Monday, January 26, 2015

Does God Speak To Us Today?


            The question, “does God speak to us today?” is rather simple but the answer may be not quite simple. Consider three practical instances:

            (a) A sincere Christian man seeking marriage has to choose between two or more girls and he desires to know the girl according to God’s will.

            (b) A job-seeking sincere Christian has to choose the job that’s according to God’s will.  

            (c) A sincere Christian seeking to invest his money has to choose the investment option according to God’s will.  

            As you well know, the difficulty in these situations is this. The Bible does not personally or specifically tell us whether we are to marry ‘A’ or ‘B’ or choose this job over that or whether to invest here or there. 

God Will Speak When We Seek

            On the contrary, the Bible mandates us to seek God’s will in all matters, “…your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 10, NASB). We are aware that the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus always sought to do the will of God the Father, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42, NIV, emphasis mine). That we ought to always seek God’s will is further amplified in the Lord’s own words, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3: 35, NIV).

            This then is our existential dilemma:

            A. We have choices to make; often these are difficult choices.

            B. The Bible mandates a sincere disciple of Christ to seek God’s will in all matters.

            C. The Bible does not offer answers to our personal instances.

            D. Should not God speak to us when we seek HIS will? (God will speak to us when we seek HIS will)

            God has already broadly spoken to us, although not specifically and personally. For instance, God has mandated Christians to marry Christians (2 Corinthians 6: 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15: 33), to serve in a job that glorifies God (1 Corinthians 10: 31; Colossians 3: 17; not being a smuggler, contract killer etc.) and to invest money in a business that does not propagate evil in any form or manner (Cf. Psalms 1: 1, Proverbs 4: 14).

            Since these mandates are from the Bible, it is important to know the Bible. To know the Bible is to interpret it accurately. Therefore, since God has revealed HIS will through the Bible, the Bible offers answers to all broad aspects of life.

            God’s audible speech to man would never contradict the Bible, for God will never contradict HIMSELF.

            The Bible reveals that God has spoken audibly to people (Genesis 8: 15, 12:1; Exodus 3:14, 24: 12; Joshua 1:1; Judges 6:18; Isaiah 38: 4; Acts 8:26; 9:15 et al.). Moreover, the Bible reveals that God will reveal HIS will to us when we seek HIM (Cf. Matthew 7: 7-8). Hence there is no rhyme or reason to doubt God’s audible intervention in our lives today.

            We are now concerned about knowing God’s will for the specific aspects of our life i.e. which doctor do I consult or which person do I marry or which job do I consider etc. When we endeavor to seek God’s will, we should surrender our lives to HIS leading and guidance.  

            When we seek and surrender our lives to God’s will and leading, HE would most surely lead us. One such leading of God is by speaking to us. So God will speak to us (Job 33: 14a; John 10: 27; Luke 6: 46). This is an undeniable fact.

Should God Always Speak To Us?

            There are approximately 2 billion Christians in the world. If a few million Christians are seeking God, then God should be speaking to one or the other at any given point in time. Therefore, God should be speaking always (Cf. John 16: 13; 1 John 2: 27).

            However, God is not always mandated to speak to us audibly. As we know, there are various other means of God’s guidance in our life. God speaks through the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16-17), lots (Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:21-26), dreams (Genesis 20:3), visions (Isaiah 6:1), angels (Daniel 9:20-21), events (Micah 6:5), prophets, and of course, the Lord Jesus (John 14: 26 et al.).

            Patience should be our chief virtue while seeking God. Expecting God to audibly speak to us always is an unwise expectation. For reasons best known to God, and without violating HIS love, grace and justice, God can choose to remain silent when man seeks HIM earnestly. In this instance, the seeker ought to exhibit patience – sometimes even for months or years together. 

            God’s audible silence could imply HIS desire to speak to us through the Bible or through events (Cf. James 1: 5; 1 Corinthians 16: 8-9) or through people (1 Samuel 13:13-14, 15:23; 2 Samuel 12:7-15; Acts 9:10-18, 10:1-33). Hence, our goal should not be particularly limited to hearing God audibly.

            God’s audible silence does not imply HIS universal silence. If we do not hear God audibly, then it does not imply God is silent with everyone. To say that God does not speak to me and hence God does not speak to anyone is a case of ‘genetic fallacy.’1

            There could be moments when God would not explicitly reveal HIS will to us. In such instances, we should continue doing what is right and pray that God would prevent that which is not according to HIS will from happening in our lives.

Listening To God Through Fellow Christians

            Then there are some who may approach us saying that they have heard God and that HE wants us to do this or that – marry this person or that, take up this job or that etc. In such a situation, the big question is the depth of our godliness.

            If our relationship with God is not mature and deep (if we are unable to hear God by ourselves), then we are almost left with no option but to listen to them.

            In this instance, the credibility of the source matters. If the source of God’s word is credible / godly then it would be wise to sincerely consider their counsel. If the source of God’s word lacks credibility then it would be wise to reject their counsel.

            There’s another difficulty here. If our relationship with God is immature and shallow, we may not be able to identify a godly person.

            Here are a few tips to identify godly people. They will…

            1. …fear God and not man.

            2. …seek God and never the material benefits.

            3. …be a diligent student of the Bible.

            4. …be pure in heart, lover of the Lord, with good character and clean conscience.

            5. …be courageous against evil, will stand for the truth, and will never give up.

            6. …be loving, gracious and humble.

            When we are confounded with a dilemma of choice in marriage or job search etc. we may as well consult godly people.

            Some may argue that God speaks through donkeys so why not sincerely consider the words of a not-so-godly-person.

            First, it was a miracle that the donkey spoke i.e. God opened the mouth of the donkey (Numbers 22: 28). Second, God did not speak through the donkey per se. The donkey did not bring the word of the Lord to Balaam instead the donkey merely justified its disobedience to Balaam.

            (Those skeptics who deride the Bible for the miracle of talking donkey would gladly accept a talking parrot or a talking dog but would conveniently deny a miraculous instance of a talking donkey. If a parrot can talk, then why not a donkey? Some evolutionists argue that they cannot sight a talking donkey now. Really? Neither can I sight men evolving from apes now. So much for their skepticism!)  

            Coming back to our point, if the source of God’s word lacks credibility then it would be wise to reject their counsel. But if the person approaching us with God’s word is credible or godly then it would be wise to sincerely consider their counsel.

Learning To Listen To God

            We should learn to master the art of listening to God, which is an art acquired by virtue of surrendering our lives and remaining in Christ always. There is no excuse to not listening to God.

            God is not an answering machine. While we strive to listen to God, we should not reduce God to an answering machine.

            In other words, God could be speaking to us even when we not actively seeking God. So do not expect God to speak only when we speak with HIM.

            In the days of Eli and Samuel, the word of the Lord was rare (1 Samuel 3:1), so one would surely not expect God to talk. But it was precisely then God spoke to Samuel. Hence, we should expect God to speak to us anytime, especially when we least expect it.

            The greatest task of a Christian is to live a surrendered life to God. The greater the surrender of a Christian life the greater will be the communication between God and him.


            In other words, the Christian’s will (and his conscience) should constantly be lost in God’s will. Thus God’s thoughts should become our thoughts. This should be the endeavor of every Christian. The hymn (I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice) should be the anthem of every Christian.


             May the good Lord enable us to hear HIM, love HIM and obey HIM all through the days of our life. Amen.

Endnotes:

1 A Genetic Fallacy is a line of "reasoning" in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing. (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/genetic-fallacy.html)

Lyrics of the hymn “I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice” (Draw me Nearer)
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
and it told thy love to me;
but I long to rise in the arms of faith
and be closer drawn to thee.
                                                 
Refrain:
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord,
by the power of grace divine;
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
and my will be lost in thine.
(Refrain)

O the pure delight of a single hour
that before thy throne I spend,
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
(Refrain)

There are depths of love that I cannot know
till I cross the narrow sea;
there are heights of joy that I may not reach
till I rest in peace with thee.
(Refrain)                                   

Monday, January 19, 2015

Je Suis Charlie; How Would Christians Respond & Was Charlie Hebdo Justified?


            The phrase ‘Je suis Charlie’ (I am Charlie) is used to support freedom of expression. Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly magazine, angered the Islamic community when they published offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. Charlie Hebdo’s action was predicated on ‘freedom of expression.’ The Islamic response, predicated on their version of ‘freedom of expression,’ was to launch a deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. 1

            Within the context of the Islamic assault against Charlie Hebdo and from the perspective of Christianity, we could ask two questions:

            1. How would have Christians responded had Charlie Hebdo employed its freedom of expression to publish offensive material against Christianity?

            2. What’s the motivating factor for the Christian response?  

Christianity Compels Love & Respect For The Unbeliever

            Christianity considers two vital theological dynamics while examining man’s tirade against God. First, Christian theology espouses God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill. A possible entailment of God-given freewill to man is man’s rejection and abuse of God. Second, God loves man even if he rejects HIM [although God’s love offers a rejecting man an eternal abode in hell].

            God loves the unbeliever. Hence, HE creates and sustains him by providing the basic necessities, and, in numerous instances, the superfluous luxuries of this life.

            Provision of basic necessities and superfluous luxuries of this life displays not only God’s love for the unbeliever, but it also reveals God’s respect for the unbeliever. God does not insult the unbeliever, for the Bible does not reveal God’s insult of the unbeliever for his unbelief. God thus respects the unbeliever during his life on earth by graciously sustaining and not insulting him.

            In fact, God out of HIS love and respect for the unbelieving man offers the unbeliever an option in eternal abode via hell. Hell is essentially the choice of the unbelieving person. The unbeliever chooses to live in hell by rejecting God during his lifetime on earth. Thus he could live outside God’s presence unto all eternity. This is the manifestation of God’s love and respect for the unbeliever, for God does not force the unbeliever to believe and love HIM.

            On one hand, God graciously sustains, and does not insult the unbeliever. On the other hand, the unbeliever, by virtue of his freewill, could reject and abuse/insult God. This is the harsh theological contrast between God and the unbeliever as revealed in the Bible.   

            Given that God loves and respects the unbelieving man, the believer is required to love and respect his unbelieving brother/sister. This love and respect should transcend unbelief and abuse. (The unbeliever’s abuse being considered in this discussion is an abuse directed against God. This abuse does not harm or kill a fellow man.) This then is the primary motivation for the Christian to love the unbeliever and be tolerant of his abuses against God and HIS Word. 

Christians Would Not Harm The Unbeliever

            Historic Christianity has always been under the radar of the unbelievers, so much so history reveals an assortment of exotic and mundane criticisms against the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Bible. In fact one can anticipate a tirade against historic Christianity around the dates of Christian holy occasions such as Christmas and Easter; the most recent being Newsweek’s assault against the Bible and the ad nauseam nonsensical allegation that Christ had married Mary Magdalene.

            The most recent denigrations of Christ and the Bible are similar to the denigration of Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. To the best of my knowledge, Christians professing to historic Christianity did not respond violently against the sources of denigration of the Bible and the Lord Jesus.

            Hence it would be reasonable to conclude that Christians would not have responded in a violent manner against Charlie Hebdo had the satirical magazine published offensive material against historic Christianity.

            (The unbelievers’ attack in the context of this essay is not a physically violent aggression but an intellectual attack at the most. Therefore, when the attack is intellectual, the response ought to be intellectual as well. The intellectual response does not physically harm anyone.)

Was Charlie Hebdo Justified? Scope of Freedom of Expression

            Was Charlie Hebdo justified in publishing offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammed? Did Charlie Hebdo act within the scope of freedom of expression?

            On one hand is an opinion that defends Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression that permits a rather limitless scope to offend anyone. Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, ostensibly defended Charlie Hebdo and spoke against the terrorist attack since it was against freedom of expression, ““It wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people. This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want,” said Zuckerberg.” 2

            On the other hand, Pope Francis advocated for a freedom of expression within a limit, ““There is a limit,” he said, speaking in Italian. “Every religion has its dignity. I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person.”” 3

            Freedom within a limit could work well within a theistic worldview. Those subscribing to a theistic framework are expected to respect life and the contradictory religious worldview of a fellow human being. For instance, the love-your-neighbor mandate of Christianity prohibits murder or abuse of a fellow human being.

            But Charlie Hebdo brands itself as a satirical anti-religious publication. 4 Hence, one should expect tirades against religious views.

            What then is the scope of freedom of expression? A cursory look at God’s relationship with an unbeliever could pave way for a conducive human response against unreasonable anti-religious diatribes that offend religious sensitivities.

            Here is a classic case in point. The bulldog of atheism, Richard Dawkins, in his work The God Delusion, considers the God of the Bible as, “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Significantly, Dawkins attacks God. But how does God respond to Dawkins?

            Although Dawkins’ assault of God is exceptional, God graciously allows him to live and live well. Thereby God offers Dawkins a chance to repent and believe in the one true and living God.

            God allows man to abuse HIM rather endlessly. So the scope of freedom of expression seems limitless from God’s perspective but within one’s mortal existence. When God allows man to abuse HIM endlessly and mindlessly, could man introduce boundaries against religious diatribes?  

            From the perspective of respect of fellow humans and peace, I would not justify Charlie Hebdo’s attack on Islam. Having said this, we should recognize an apparently limitless freedom offered by God to an unbeliever.

            Although Pope’s idea of limited freedom of expression is wise, one cannot expect every anti-religious Tom, Dick and Harry to respect religious sensitivities. Therefore, those subscribing to a theistic framework should love and respect even those who abuse religious sensitivities.

Advocating Reasonable Response Against Attack On Religion

            When the assault against religion is in the form of a cartoon, shouldn’t the response also be on the same lines? A violent response that kills and harms lives cannot be justified under any condition.

            Thus we agree with Pope Francis that ““One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, that is, in the name of God,” Francis said. “To kill in the name of God is an aberration.”” 5

            Let us continue praying for a reasonable response – a response that does not maim or murder anyone - even when our religious sensitivities are mutilated. Amen.



Endnotes:
1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/14/charlie-hebdo-attack_n_6468498.html?ir=India
2 http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/15/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-charlie-hebdo
3 http://time.com/3668875/pope-francis-charlie-hebdo/
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Hebdo#2015_attack

5 http://time.com/3668875/pope-francis-charlie-hebdo/ 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Can Christians Wish RIP (Rest in peace)?


            This is a very sensitive theme. I mean no disrespect to the dead or the relatives or friends of the dead. But this is the fact; each of us live within the precincts of our worldviews. Therefore our thoughts, words and deeds are either profoundly predicated upon our worldviews or will reflect our position concerning our worldview. Please bear this in mind as you navigate through this short essay.

            RIP (Latin: Requiescat in pace) refers to “rest in peace,” which is customarily expressed to wish peace upon the souls of the departed. Although RIP is wished upon the departed, it is conveyed to the relatives and friends of the dead to comfort them.

            It is mandatory to comfort the relatives and friends of the dead. But why is RIP also used as a means of comforting?

            RIP implies soul’s survival after death. If the dead do not exist (post-death), peace or peacelessness of the soul is meaningless. Since it is believed that soul exists post-death, peace is wished upon the soul of the departed. Positing wellness upon the departed soul soothes the grieving person. Therefore, RIP that posits soul’s existence is a wellness phrase solely intended to comfort the living.

            Although RIP could comfort the grieving living associate of the dead, it does not impact the state of the departed. The state of the departed is determined by God and not man.

            Therefore, wishing peace upon the departed soul need not bring forth peace upon the departed soul. The departed soul is at the mercy of God and not man. Peace or peacelessness of the departed soul is a consequence of God’s judgment and is beyond man’s scope. Man cannot wish or offer peace to the departed soul.

            Historic Christianity believes in the existential reality of heaven and hell. Heaven offers peace to the departed soul, whereas hell offers peacelessness. Therefore, when a believer of Christ passes away, he/she would be in an eternal state of peace. Consequently, an unbeliever who passes away is believed to be in an eternal state of peacelessness.

            Because a departed believer of Christ would be in heaven, wishing RIP upon the believer would be factual. However, wishing RIP upon an unbeliever of Christ would not be factual, since that soul would not be in a state of eternal peace.

            Christians espousing historic Christianity (by this I exclude Christians professing to liberal, universalistic and postmodern theology) should not wish RIP. Wishing RIP in spite of believing in heaven and hell contradicts the core tenets of historic Christianity.

            A Christian who wishes RIP upon an unbeliever judges the unbeliever to be in heaven (a state of peace). But only God can judge mankind.

RIP-Wishing-Christian Is In Conflict With God

            When a Christian judges an unbeliever by wishing RIP, he strives to unseat God from the throne of judgment. In this context, the Christian commits himself to a conflict with God. Hence he who wishes RIP upon an unbeliever sins against God because of his conflict with God. This is the first problem.

RIP-Wishing-Christian Disobeys God

            The second problem for a Christian wishing RIP upon an unbeliever is his disobedience to God. If God deems an unbeliever to hell, then by virtue of wishing RIP, the Christian pronounces heaven upon the unbeliever. It is by disobeying God the Christian wishes RIP that implies heaven for an unbeliever.

RIP-Wishing-Christian Offers False Hope

            The Christian who wishes RIP upon an unbeliever deceives the recipients of the RIP wish with false hope. Pronouncing heaven upon the unbeliever is to comfort the associates of the unbeliever with false hope when in reality the unbeliever would exist in a peaceless hell. This is the third problem for the Christian.

            Significantly, offering false hope negates or diminishes the possibility of the living associates of the departed unbeliever seeking to believe and follow Christ. Why seek Christ while you are living when you would be in peace after death?

RIP-Wishing-Christian Denies Christ

            The fourth significant problem for the Christian who wishes RIP upon an unbeliever is his implied denial of Christ. According to the erring Christian (RIP wishing), the unbeliever is to go to heaven. This then denies the gospel of Christ – HIS virgin birth, sinless life, perfect sacrifice, crucifixion and ascension.

            Alternately, if an unbeliever is to go to heaven, then Christ and HIS sacrifice is totally unnecessary and absurd. Thus the RIP wishing Christian clandestinely denies Christ by pronouncing eternal peace upon the unbeliever.

State Of RIP-Wishing-Christian

            How much of a Christian is the RIP pronouncing Christian? Does he not know his own faith or would he possibly be a liberal or a postmodern Christian?

            The RIP pronouncing Christian may not have thought about his faith or the implication of his RIP pronouncement from the vantage point of Christianity or the Historic Christian stand on RIP. This probably is the state of most Christians who wish RIP. This short essay is intended to help them.

            Then there are the deviant Christians. I am referring to the liberal, universalistic and postmodern Christians. These Christians misinterpret the Bible to posit hell’s non-existence to espouse either universal salvation (heaven for all – the believers and the unbelievers of Jesus Christ) or annihilationism (annihilation / non-existence of the unbelievers after death).

            When these deviant Christians wish RIP, they do so for belief permits them to do so, even though the Bible univocally affirms the existence of hell as the eternal state of the unbelievers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Appropriate Comfort

            Having said these, we ought to know that our pronouncement of RIP does not or cannot impact the eternal state of the departed soul. But a motive behind the utterance of RIP is to comfort the associates of the departed, and most surely it is our bounden responsibility to comfort those in grief.

            When a loved one departs from this world, the friends and relatives would indeed grieve and grieve rather irreparably. This is undeniable.

            During such grief, man could comfort his fellow man, although such a comfort can only be partial. Despite receiving comfort from fellow man, the grieving person would continue to yearn and grieve over a period of time. The only source of perfect comfort is God, who alone has the power to perfectly comfort the grieving.

            Instead of saying RIP, we could effectually state, “may the comfort of God be upon you and your family” or something similar.  We should also earnestly pray for the grieving that God would comfort them. This is valid.

            To conclude, we need to think through our statements especially if we are serious about our faith in God. Our yes should be yes and no should be no. We should diligently not commit to anything that conflict with God. May God help us to live a life that glorifies HIM and not conflict with HIM. Amen.



Endnotes:
"Is it biblical to say ‘rest in peace’ (RIP) in regards to someone who has died?"
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/rest-in-peace-RIP.html



Monday, January 5, 2015

Newsweek Assaults the Bible – Understanding The Assault, God & Church’s Response


            If there are no tirades against Christianity during the days surrounding the Christian holy events – Christmas and Easter, we may as well wonder what’s happening in the opposite camp. However, these melodramatic rants against Christianity will gradually lose its impact, because it is old wine in a new bottle.

            So we have a similar tirade against Christianity. This in the form of an 8,487 word article discrediting the Bible, ‘The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin’ by Kurt Eichenwald and published by Newsweek, on December 23rd 2014.1 

Realizing God’s Beauty During Assaults against Christianity

            When Newsweek’s article was published, a specific group of our non-Christian friends joyfully propagated the article in social media. Consider this please, why do they seize the liberty to joyfully discredit the Bible, while they, by the same token, do not allow the world to criticize their holy book?

            Isn’t this an interesting hypocrisy? This is akin to maligning our reputation at their will and pleasure but preventing others to examine their credentials despite it being in a questionable state altogether.

            Whatever the case may be, this is a wonderful opportunity to realize the beauty of the God of the Bible.

            If God has offered freewill to man, then by the same token, man could abuse God using that very freewill. In this context, it’s valid that God be at the receiving end of man’s disbelief and criticisms. Disbelief and abuse of the Creator God are the ramifications of man’s freewill especially in the context of a world inundated in evil and sin.

            God by virtue of granting freewill to man would necessarily invite abuses upon HIMSELF and would graciously understand the abuse. If God is loving and just, then HE would not prohibit the unbelieving man use his freewill to abuse HIM. (Prohibiting man to employ his freewill is a negation of freewill.)

            This is how God’s beauty is revealed. God would not obstruct man’s freewill, since salvation is predicated on man’s freewill. While man employs his freewill to abuse God, it is by the same freewill man could repent of his sins and believe in God.

            Therefore, if God silences man from abusing HIM, HE cannot be loving, just and salvific in this context. God, who prevents man from abusing HIM, albeit for a finite period of time, cannot be God. Instead, that god could only be a mere illusory figure concocted by man.

Motive Behind Assaults Against Christianity

            Newsweek’s allegations against Christianity are unscrupulously the same old. These so-called allegations have been adequately and reasonably answered a jillion times over and again by eminent Christian scholars.


            However, there is no scarcity of Christian response to Newsweek’s tirade against Christianity. Eichenwald’s allegations have been systematically debunked.2 Although the most appropriate response would be that of Billy Madison’s:


            The motive of these assaults against Christianity is to rattle the faith of an immature Christian.

            The antagonist desires to prove the Bible as a fairytale. If the Bible is proven as corrupt and inherently false, then the Christian has nothing to anchor his faith on.

            If there is no Bible, then there is no triune God or the Lord Jesus, whom the Bible reveals. If there is no Jesus, there is no salvation through HIS sacrifice. Hence those who lose faith in Christ remain clueless; clueless as to their origin, purpose and destiny.

            Any Christian who has studied the Bible and the other theistic worldviews would conclusively assert the utmost coherency of the Christian worldview. In comparison, the other monotheistic and pantheistic worldviews remain largely incoherent, especially from within the realms of God & salvation, man’s origin, purpose and destiny. 

            So if one were to depart from faith in Christ, he would wallow under the weight of the incoherency of the other worldviews that he would be artificially incubated in an apparently peaceful situation that even a feeble impairment to his wellness would destroy his inner peace completely and thus his soul (Cf. Isaiah 48: 22).

            If one were to disbelieve the Bible, do we really think we can earn or work our way to our salvation? Do we think that chanting [sacred texts] and/or charity would fetch us heaven? No.

            Our sins in thoughts, words, and deeds far outweigh our potential and maximal goodness. Thus no amount of good works would fetch us heaven. That good works would fetch us salvation is an untenable state or a mere illusion.

            So if it’s not Jesus then its despair. Despair / hopelessness or illusion would be the mainstay of a person without Christ. This is precisely where the adverse propagandas against Christianity intend to drive the faltering Christians to.

            But the fact remains that outside of Christianity there is no truth, especially a coherent one at that.

Target Audience Behind The Assaults Against Christianity

            Who’s more likely to be rattled by such adverse propagandas against Christianity?

            Newsweek provides us the answer, “…Their lack of knowledge about the Bible is well established. A Pew Research poll in 2010 found that evangelicals ranked only a smidgen higher than atheists in familiarity with the New Testament and Jesus’s teachings. “Americans revere the Bible—but, by and large, they don’t read it,’’ wrote George Gallup Jr. and Jim Castelli, pollsters and researchers whose work focused on religion in the United States.”C

            We should be aware of the aesthetic Christians. These Christians do not expend time or energy to wrestle with the biblical text to unravel and assimilate the timeless truths of the Bible. Their prayer is but a selfish rant meticulously devoid of listening to God. Instead they love to attend the church regularly in their best attire, so much so their focus is more on the regularity of attendance and in beautifying themselves for a mass acceptance than attending the church to increase their love for God by worshipping HIM in spirit and in truth.

            This group would indeed be rattled.

            But then there is a quantum of solace for this group. That quantum of solace is predicated on the age of the Christian belonging to this group. 

            Are these adverse propagandas aimed against the older Christians (e.g. in the age group of 50++ years)? I don’t think so. Majority of these older Christians wouldn’t possibly read these articles.

            Even if they read, they would discard these articles because their faith in historic Christianity is predicated upon fear and reverence for God. In other words, they would dare not question the Bible.

            These assaults then are aimed against the younger Christians. This group thinks through their heart and not their head. This is the feeling culture and not the thinking culture per se.

            The younger Christian is more likely to be impacted by the adverse propagandas against Christianity unless the contemporary Christian leadership offers reasonable answers to the questions of this age-group.

            Answers refuting these so-called allegations are available in the public domain, but the younger Christians either don’t believe in extensive reading and understanding or they read and strive to understand, but have questions for which they desire personal answers.

Is The Local Church Ready To Engage Objections Against Christianity?

            A few germane questions should be asked:

            A. Is [the leadership of] the local church able to answer the questions disputing Christianity?

            B. Is [the leadership of] the local church aware of the sources that debunk such adverse propagandas so to refer them to the seeking / questioning Christian? (It’s not to shoo away the questioning Christian to these public domains as if to release themselves from the responsibility or burden of answering these questions. But [the leadership of] the local church should handhold the seeking or questioning Christian through the process of solidifying his belief in Christ and in the Bible.)

            C. Would [the leadership of] the local church encourage questions about Christianity / Bible from their worshippers?   

            It’s OK to question the Bible albeit honestly so to earnestly seek God. In fact, Christians should utilize these assaults against Christianity to help motivate the younger generation Christians to be deeply rooted in Christ and the Bible.

            Perfect peace is only possible when a person is in Christ. Each day will have its troubles, and often these troubles appear in the guise of these assaults against Christianity.

            These attacks, as emphasized before, should motivate Christians to rely more on Christ, for it is only in Christ there is salvation and accompanying that salvation is the true, unhindered and everlasting peace. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus said, “…so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            It’s only in Christ we have salvation and true peace. So allow these assaults against Christianity to get you closer to the Lord Jesus and to God’s words in the Bible. The Spirit of Jesus will draw you closer to HIM, but only if you believe, love and follow HIM. I pray that Jesus would have HIS way in you. Amen.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html

2 Debunking Newsweek’s article: 

Please read these Christian responses that debunk Newsweek’s article:

http://danielbwallace.com/2014/12/28/predictable-christmas-fare-newsweeks-tirade-against-the-bible/

http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/12/29/newsweek-on-the-bible-so-misrepresented-its-a-sin/

http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-present-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-1/

http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-gift-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-2/

26 Mistakes in Newsweek's Article About the Bible: http://onyxkylix.blogspot.in/2015/01/the-bible-so-mispresented-its-sin-26.html

Monday, December 29, 2014

We Can Become Angels In 2015 (A Thought for the New Year)


            Angels carry out some of God’s plans.  There are guardian angels – angels who serve the believers (Cf. Psalms 91: 11, Matthew 18: 10, Hebrews 1: 14). It is a fact that people ought to be cared for.

            An identical message is conveyed through “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12: 31). When Christ was asked to define the term ‘neighbor,’ HE elaborated through what has become to be a very familiar parable to us, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 30-37, NIV).

            An intriguing aspect of the Good Samaritan parable is the utter discredit that Christ renders to the Jews (in this parable, priest & Levite) - God’s chosen people.  On the other hand, Christ speaks favorably of the Samaritans – as those inclined to help those in need.

            As background information, Jews did not associate with the Samaritans (John 4: 9). Moreover, Christ HIMSELF associated Samaritans to the gentiles (non-Jews; Matthew 10: 5).

            So Christ, through the Good Samaritan parable, does seem to elucidate that the Jews, although being God’s chosen people, were less inclined to help those in need. If we draw an application from this parable, then we safely presume that Christians could be less inclined to help the needy.

            As surely as there are Christians, there are those who are in need. Their need could be financial and/or non-financial.

            The non-financial needs could be fulfilling spiritual needs (helping in Bible study, praying for and together, Christian counseling, offering a ride to the church etc.) or rendering emotional support (offering our shoulder to cry on, encouragement, good Christian advice, periodical brotherly visits etc.) etc.

            So we could ask ourselves two pertinent questions:

            1. Can we prayerfully decide our tangible service (what we could offer) to the needy in 2015?

            2. Can we identify the needs of people around us? If we earnestly ask God whom we could serve, God will surely lead us to those individuals.

            People are in need. Angels are the need of the hour.

            As surely as there are angels in the spiritual realm, God in HIS wisdom and mercy has ordained HIS people to love and serve those in need. Human-angels are the need of the hour.

            Are we ready for this task? Are we ready to be the human-angels to serve the needy?

            So this is my challenge to you; can we adopt at the least one person or one family and serve to alleviate their physical and emotional needs in 2015?


            The good Lord will always guide, guard and bless us all in 2015. Enjoy a Spirit-filled, and an anointed 2015. Amen. 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Day as “Good Governance Day” Controversy In India


            This December, the Indian academia was notified by the Indian government to organize several activities (essay, quiz competitions and documentary screenings)1 on December 25th to observe ‘Good Governance Day.’ These activities, according to the government mandate, should be photographed and recorded as a proof of compliance. 2

            This implied that schools and colleges should work on Christmas day. Thereby a Christian child (and of course the parents too) would be denied an opportunity to worship and enjoy reminiscing the Lord’s birth as a family.

            Any ardent Christian would ponder the reason behind the sudden choice of December 25th by the government of India to observe ‘Good Governance.’ The government’s choice of December 25th was to honor the birthday of Mr. A.B Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India, who was born on the same day. He belongs to the party that presently governs India.

            Justifiably the National Council for Churches in India (NCCI), the apex body of Protestant and Orthodox churches in India representing 14 million Indian citizens, registered their protest against the government action through a letter to the Indian Prime Minister. Their letter read, “Your government has been telling the people that good days are going to come. However, we are alarmed at the way the good days are sought to be introduced. They appeared to be ushered in at the cost of social, economic and religious minorities and vulnerable sections of the society… It is asserted that that your government wants to celebrate it as Good Governance Day. The implication of such a celebration is that government offices, educational institutions etc would have to function that day showing scant respect to the holy day of the Christians, Christmas…” 3

            Evidently, neither the NCCI nor the average Christian dislikes the concept of ‘good governance.’ But the contention of every Christian is the choice of the day on which that noble concept was preferred to be observed. Why did the government of India choose the Christmas day to observe good governance?

            Since then, the Indian government has issued revised notifications to the Indian academia to wrap up Good Governance Day events before December 25th and that the compliance report is not mandatory. 4

            However, this question remains intact; was the initial notification of the Indian government aimed against the Christians? Instead of deliberating over the government’s intent, we may as well ask, how should Christians respond if they are denied holiday on Christmas day?

Communicate the Disappointment Peacefully

            A formal and a peaceful communication, such as the one lodged by NCCI, is valuable. This is apt, for the ruling government in a democracy should not deny any religious community, especially the minority, of its religious privileges.  

Disappointment as Legitimate Response

            How would the other religious communities respond if their holy days are made working days by the ruling government? How would the Muslim community respond if ‘Prophet’s birthday’ was ruled a working day on account of a noble governance concept? How would the Hindu community respond if ‘Diwali’ or another more important holy day was ruled a working day on account of a noble governance concept?

            One could reasonably infer that these communities would be disappointed as well. Disappointment is a default human response upon curtailment of a privilege. Therefore, it’s indeed reasonable for a Christian to be disappointed when our privileges are curtailed in a democracy.

Why Celebrate Only On December 25th?

            In the event of such disruptions, we may as well think of alternate options.

            Why not celebrate Christmas on another day, maybe December 24th or December 26th or the Sunday that’s before or after December 25th?  The Bible’s silence on the precise date of Christ’s birth indicates that the event of Christ’s birth is more important than the date of the Lord’s birth. 

            If a Christian family is keen on celebrating Christmas together, then this is a viable option. If any action is aimed at disturbing the peace of a Christian mind, then the Christian mind should find ways to remain at peace without compromising its religious position.

We Can Remain Without Celebrating on December 25th

            Consider Indians living in the Middle East as a case in point.

            Many travel to the Middle East to make a living – a wealthier and a comfortable one at that. In the Middle East (or in a similar scenario), Christians are expected to work on any day other than the stipulated weekly and national holidays. Therefore, working on Christmas or Easter is a normal routine for the Christian who lives in the Middle East.

            The Christian family in the Middle East makes do with a family dinner on Christmas day or celebrates Christmas on another day. The Christian in this situation refrains from protesting against the Islamic government for not declaring Christmas as a national holiday, for the Islamic nation is not his native country. He simply trudges along, for sustaining his wealth and comfort seems more appropriate than demanding a mere holiday albeit for religious reasons.

            Or consider a country that curbs the existence of a Christian church. In this scenario, the Christian should not celebrate Christmas outside the precincts of his home. But the core religious factors of not celebrating Christmas or worshipping the Lord in the local church does not prevent the Christian from taking up employment in that country.

            Therefore, it is indeed possible to not celebrate Christmas on 25th.

Christmas Is Celebrated In Our Hearts

            The Lord Jesus Christ reigns in the heart and mind of every Christian. While celebrating these important occasions in the company of the family or the church community is indeed significant, it is of paramount importance to celebrate the Lord’s presence – HIS birth, death and resurrection in our hearts and minds.

            Christmas is the celebration of our Savior’s first-coming into the world to save us from our sins. We are eternally saved when we believe in Jesus. This is a matter of great joy. This joy should occupy our hearts until our last breath.  

            If Christ reigns in our hearts and if our hearts are filled with joy then none can or should take that joy away. This joy remains irrespective of our ability to celebrate Christmas.

            Although we remain joyous, we ought to grieve. We grieve for those who do not believe in Jesus. While we grieve, we pray that those who do not believe in Christ would believe the Lord Jesus Christ. None should take this prayer away from us.

            Since Christianity is primarily an inward disposition of a heart to the Lord Jesus, a Christian should be able to work or study on any given day, thereby denying trials and tribulations the chance to destroy his peace.

            Nothing can separate the believer from HIS Lord. Nothing should destroy the peace that Christ offers to us.

            That Christians should submit to the governing authorities is mandated in the Bible (Romans 13: 1). In the very same verse, the Bible says that governing authorities have been established by God.

            The Bible asserts that the governing authorities should hold no terror to those who are doing right (Romans 13: 3, NIV). Even if governing authorities fail to do the right, we should do the right albeit without compromising our religious position.

            If Christians are denied the privilege of worshipping and reminiscing the Lord’s birth on Christmas day, we should continue doing the right. And in doing the right, we will be blessed by God for the Bible teaches that we should bless those who curse us (Luke 6: 28).

            So may the joy of the Lord’s birth increase in our hearts as we seek to serve HIM alone during this Christmas season and always. May the incomparable power of God rest and abide upon every Christian who genuinely seeks and serves Christ so that we will remain peaceful and joyous even during trials and tribulations. May this world know and believe in the Lord Jesus as their God and savior.

            A blessed Christmas to you and yours! Amen.



Endnotes:
1 http://www.firstpost.com/india/good-governance-day-angry-leaders-say-communal-design-to-target-minority-holidays-1853529.html

2 http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-uproar-in-lok-sabha-over-schools-being-told-to-remain-open-on-christmas-2044700

3 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/good-governance-day-ncci-seeks-pm-narendra-modis-intervention/articleshow/45568276.cms


4 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/good-governance-day-circulars-revised/article6701900.ece