Monday, July 27, 2015

C’mon Let A Christian Marry A Non-Christian????


            What’s wrong if a Christian marries a non-christian? If they marry, would their marriage be disastrous or would their children hate Christianity?

            A foundational verse quoted in this context is “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…” (2 Corinthians 6: 14). A common faith in Christ is at the heart of a Christian marriage, they say.

            This is the backdrop. Conventional Christian teaching mandates Christians to NOT MARRY non-christians. If a Christian marries a non-christian, by implication, their marriage would be sinful and disastrous [1].

            This is the puzzle. Should a marriage between a Christian man & woman entail a healthy marriage?

            No! A marriage between a Christian man and a woman need not necessarily entail a healthy marriage.

            Why?

            Scores of non-christian marriages are healthy and successful. If non-christian marriages are successful, the condition that Christians ought to marry Christians could be discarded.

            The reality of many healthy, successful and strong non-christian marriages should remind Christians that the nametag “Christianity” does not unconsciously render a Christian marriage healthy.

            Committed religious belief, not necessarily Christianity, enables strong and successful marriages.  

            But, atheists, who deny God, also enjoy healthy marriages. So it is reasonable to conclude that committed irreligiosity does enable healthy marriages.

            Examine this situation from the perspective of divorce in Christian marriages. Scores of divorces and separations in Christian marriages testify that a Christian marriage could be disastrous.

            There are make-believe Christian marriages (that pretend as successful marriages). The husband and wife may not love each other but would merely be married for the sake of being married or may not talk to each other inside their homes. They may not share the same bed or could lead separate lives inside their home all the while posturing perfection in their marriage.

            Au contraire, Christians have married non-christians from time immemorial. Many such marriages are successful and healthy. Healthy marriages between Christians and non-christians serve as a testimony to the fact that a marriage between a Christian and a non-christian need not be disastrous.

            Therefore, isn’t a teaching that two Christians ought to marry for a healthy marriage an unacceptable teaching that is incoherent with the existential reality?

            We are not done! Observe this situation from another perspective.

            Very few Christians read their Bible daily. A recent study in America confirms that only 9% of Americans read their Bible daily [2]. This could very well be a fact in other countries as well.

            So if two Christians, who have not read their Bible or who do not love the Lord, get married, what are the chances that their marriage would be successful? Unless a conversion occurs during the marriage, their marriage should not survive according to the conventional Christian teaching. 

            But if their marriage is successful, it is not because of their religiosity. There never was any religiosity in them. Their marital success could be for the same reasons as to why marriages between atheists are successful!

            The problem would compound if one Christian partner loves the Lord dearly but the other Christian spouse is lukewarm or cold towards Christ. This is another favorable situation for potential marriage problems.

            Based on the existential realities of non-christian (atheists included) and even certain Christian marriages, a conclusion that a marriage between two Christians need not necessarily entail a healthy and successful marriage is valid.

            Therefore, the conventional Christian teaching that a Christian should marry another Christian for a healthy marriage could be rendered null and void.

            What if a sincere Christian who longs to get married cannot locate a Christian partner? What if this Christian is attracted to an opposite-sex-non-christian with admirable qualities worthy of a perfect fit as his/her soulmate? 

            What would be a sound biblical advice to this Christian? Would you advise him/her to marry the non-christian he /she is attracted to?

            “Focus on the Family,” an acclaimed Christian ministry that strives to strengthen a Christian marriage, qualify their teaching that a marriage between two Christians is more likely to be healthy through these words, “Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith – be it Christian or other – have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practiceCouples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudesenjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers

            …Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage. But the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways – through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from scripture, being in communion with God though prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around us who challenge us to take our marriage’s seriously – the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so”[3] (Emphasis Mine).      

            Therefore, a mere marriage between two Christians is surely not a recipe for a successful marriage.

            A Christian married to a non-christian could enjoy a healthy marriage from a worldly sense, but certainly not from a spiritual sense. When a Christian marries a non-christian, it is the Christian who would love the Lord. The non-christian spouse would not love the Lord Jesus. Hence this marriage could be easily damaged or broken by the Satan (cf. Ecclesiastes 4: 12). 

            A Christian marriage ought not to achieve the ordinary worldly success other marriages achieve; it ought to achieve greater spiritual success.

            Greater spiritual success in a Christian marriage gains precedence because Satan is active against a Christian marriage. The greater spiritual success for a Christian marriage is to individually and collectively grow in the Lord so to survive storms – small and large, and significantly lead the children to continuously love the Lord. Such a Christian marriage will glorify God.  

            To achieve greater spiritual success, the Christian family should love the Lord Jesus through the assimilation of HIS Word, love and submission to their spouse as Christ loved the church and as the church submits to Christ, and communion with fellow Christians. This is a surefire recipe for a greater spiritual success in a Christian marriage.

            There is greater power in a Christian marriage when both the husband and the wife love the Lord dearly, thus obey and glorify God through the ups and downs of the marriage. When they love the Lord dearly and are in constant communion with Christ, their marriage would be unbreakable.

            Finally, the disclaimer.

            This post is not to encourage Christians to marry non-Christians. It is wise to err on the side of caution than not.

            So a Christ-loving Christian ought to marry another Christ-loving Christian to achieve the greater spiritual success.


Endnotes:

[1] Every born-again Christian is a sinner. But he/she has been saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. So a Christian married to a non-christian, although is a practicing sinner, will gain eternal life.

[2]http://www.raac.iupui.edu/files/2713/9413/8354/Bible_in_American_Life_Report_March_6_2014.pdf


[3] http://www.focusonthefamily.com/about_us/focus-findings/marriage/divorce-rate-in-the-church-as-high-as-the-world.aspx 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Believe Adam & Eve? (Defending Adam & Eve’s Existence)


            Bible reveals Adam & Eve’s existence. But did they really exist? If they did exist, how do we reason it out?

            In August 2013, Yahoo News reported the unraveling of a genetic Adam and Eve, who lived about 135,000 years ago [1]. This report was based on papers published in Science (August 2013). Genetic Adam and Eve are not to be confused with the Biblical Adam & Eve.

            Genetic Adam & Eve were supposedly two out of thousands of people with unbroken and continuing male and female lineages. On the contrary, Biblical Adam & Eve were the first ever humans created by God – our primeval ancestors.

            Minimally, Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity (because they consider the Bible as God’s infallible and inerrant word) believe in the existence of the biblical Adam & Eve [2]. Postmodern Christians consider the biblical Adam & Eve as mythological figures because they do not attribute divine inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy upon the Bible. Evolutionists and Non-Christians, with the exception of Jews and Muslims, deny the existence of Adam & Eve.

            Why is Adam & Eve’s existence germane to Christianity?

            If biblical Adam & Eve never existed, the Bible could be debunked i.e. the narrative of original sin and need for savior - the Lord Jesus Christ - could be incorrect as well. Thus a conclusion that there is no salvation from Christ, and that Christians are merely walking in the dark could be reasonable.

            Denial of Adam & Eve’s existence could entail Christianity’s falsity through the following assertions:

            1. Science proves Adam & Eve never existed.

            2. Adam & Eve did not disobey God (because they did not exist).

            3. There was no “original sin” that was passed to us - the descendants of Adam & Eve.

            4. Jesus’ death on the cross was in vain (because there was no original sin).

            5. Bible that reveals Adam, Eve, sin and Christ is thus incorrect.

            6. Therefore, Christianity is invalid.

            Scientists denying Adam & Eve’s existence, posit humanity’s origin from a small population of individuals. This nullifies biblical notion of humanity’s origin from one man and one woman - Adam and Eve. Studies of ancestral population size of humans based on mutation rates and independent of mutations are the dominant foundation for the denial of biblical Adam & Eve [3].

            Do not worry!

            Biochemist and Vice President of Research & Apologetics of “Reasons to Believe,” Dr. Fazale Rana refutes the conclusions of the studies denying Adam & Eve’s existence [4]:

            (1) These studies posit estimates and not hard and fast values. Therefore, do not consider estimates as concrete values.

            (2) Studies on “Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam” trace back the origin of humanity to single ancestral sequences, namely single man and single women a.k.a Adam & Eve [5]. (Mitochondria, which contain its own DNA, are inherited only from the mother. Mitochondrial Eve is the woman who was the most recent common female ancestor of all humans. Similarly Y chromosome Adam was the most recent common male ancestor of all humans because Y chromosome is inherited only from the father.)

            (3) Those who deny Adam & Eve’s existence assume that they were genetically identical, since Eve was created from Adam. But the Bible does not support the notion that God created Adam & Eve as genetically identical humans. God could have introduced genetic differences into Eve while creating her.

            (4) The claim for humanity’s origin from a small population of individuals, in fact, supports the existence of biblical Adam & Eve i.e. Adam & Eve procreated and had many sons and daughters. These studies could well be positing the population structure of humans some time after their creation when their numbers would have been small.

            (5) As in the case of the research done on “wild mouflon sheep,” these studies could have overestimated the original numbers for the first humans. A young male and female sheep placed in Haute Island in 1957 multiplied to 700 in 1977. When mathematical models used by studies to deny Adam & Eve’s existence were applied in the instance of wild mouflon sheep, the models underestimated the genetic diversity of the population.

            “Answers in Genesis” a Christian apologetics ministry refutes the denial of the existence of Adam & Eve through [6]:

            (A) Studies on human genetic diversity are predicated on “molecular clock dating,” which is “built on series of unverifiable assumptions and circular reasoning” [7]. (Molecular clocks estimate the duration of time taken for genetic diversity to occur.)

            Molecular Geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom states that secular evolutionary scientists agree with the fundamental uncertainty in molecular clocks. Dr. Fazale Rana claims similarly that uncertainties in molecular clock analysis are on the order of +/- 50,000 years, which is remarkably imprecise. [8]

            (B) An appeal to young earth creationism (belief in six literal 24 hour creation days and that the universe we live in was created 6000-12000 years ago) rejects a notion of large genetic variation within a very short elapsed duration of time (6000-12000 years since origin of universe).

            (In fact, if young earth creationism is correct, Darwinian evolution should be discarded because it is virtually impossible for evolution to occur in a short time frame as 6000-12000 years.)

            Therefore, scientists’ denial of Adam & Eve’s existence need not be trusted for it is a flawed conclusion.

            What do we learn from this attack against Christianity?

            Intellectual attack against Christianity is rampantly escalating. Churches should respond by equipping themselves with answers to these tough yet reasonable questions. Apologetics ministry should be developed in churches that subscribe to historic Christianity.

            To conclude, I submit the words of Dr. Fazale Rana, “Even though the genetic data traces humanity’s origin back to a single woman and man, evolutionary biologists are quick to assert that mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam were not the first humans. Rather, according to them, many “Eves” and “Adams” existed.7 Accordingly, mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam were the lucky ones whose genetic material just happened to survive. The genetic lines of the other first humans were lost over time.

            While this explanation is not out of the realm of possibility, it is highly contrived. It would work if only a few of the first humans reproduced, or were allowed to reproduce. If the data is simply taken at face value, the biblical model is the more parsimonious explanation.

            Even though evolutionary biologists offer ways to explain away the implications of the human population genetic data, these explanations—entrenched in naturalism—are not necessarily superior to an interpretation that fully squares with the biblical account. The scientific case for the biblical Adam and Eve stands firm.” [9]

Endnotes:

[1] http://news.yahoo.com/genetic-adam-eve-uncovered-180706860.html

[2] Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons etc. also believe in Adam & Eve.

[3] http://www.reasons.org/articles/were-they-real-the-scientific-case-for-adam-and-eve

[4] Ibid.

[5] Recent studies have postulated the simultaneous existence of mitochondrial eve and Y-chromosome Adam. (William Lane Craig states, “…but recently Michael Murray, who is involved in the BioLogos movement and with the Templeton Foundation, sent me an email in which he said some recent studies have just reestimated the dates of the Mitochondrial Eve and Chromosomal Adam and they’ve determined that they were roughly contemporaneous.” - http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-historical-adam-and-eve#_ftn7)

[6] https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/did-we-all-come-from-adam-and-eve/

[7] Ibid.

[8] http://www.reasons.org/articles/when-did-mitochondrial-eve-and-y-chromosomal-adam-live

[9] http://www.reasons.org/articles/were-they-real-the-scientific-case-for-adam-and-eve


Monday, July 13, 2015

Miracles Are Useless If…


            Bible is replete with miracles [1]. Sincere Christians who worship the Triune God will objectively believe every recorded miracle in the Bible. Miracles are intended to glorify God, meet human needs and establish the supernatural basis of revelation.

            Sincere Christians will also affirm miracles subjectively. Every sincere Christian will subjectively assert his existence as a product of not one or two, but many a miracle. A classic spiritual example of a miracle is the born-again experience.

            Postmodern Christians, however, will arrogantly deny miracles. Consequently, they will deny that the Bible (God’s Word) is inspired by God, is error -free and absolutely trustworthy.

            Miracle, by definition, ought to appeal to God as its ultimate source. So atheists are not expected to believe in miracles. However, their beliefs in life from non-life, order from chaos, rational from non-rational are miracles in themselves. It’s just that atheists would attribute miracles to random occurrences without scientific explanation [2].

            This report is neither intended to deny miracles nor affirm its absolute uselessness. But this report will endeavor to highlight specific instances of application where miracles could be rendered useless.

1. Miracles Sustain Unbelief

            Miracles would be rendered useless if it were solely used as an evangelistic means to bring people to Christ.

            Miracles bring people to Christ. The Jews who witnessed Lazarus’ miraculous resurrection believed in Christ (John 11: 45).

            However, the Lord Jesus performed numerous miracles. Nevertheless people abandoned HIM. So miracles were either rendered useless when people did not respond with belief in Christ or miracles were not performed with a motive for people to believe in HIM.

            The 6th chapter of the gospel of John offers a remarkable insight into people’s disbelief and abandonment of the Lord. Although they were cognizant of the Lord’s miraculous feeding of the 5000 and the miraculous walking on the water, many disbelieved and abandoned HIM (John 6: 30, 66).

            This is the problem. Without adequate biblical support, miracles are posited as a vital means to evangelism by certain Christians. But there are instances of people refusing to believe in Christ even upon witnessing miracles. (An overnight change in character from bad to good need not be construed as a miracle by those who are not predisposed to believing in miracles.)  

            On the other hand, when miracle-workers fail to perform miracles, they ascribe the failure upon the audience. They could claim that their audience did not possess adequate faith in Christ for miracles to occur.

            These Christians commonly believe that miracles cannot be performed when there is no faith in people (cf. Matthew 13: 58, Mark 6: 5). This is an invalid notion.

            The sovereign God cannot be limited by man’s belief. Christ healed a faithless man who was invalid for 38 years (John 5: 1-9).

            Since not all miracles lead people to Christ, a conclusion that miracles sustain unbelief in Christ is reasonable.     

2. Miracles Deceive People

            The notion that miracles are solely meant to draw people to Christ presupposes an argument that Christians are the one and the only group who could perform miracles. This is an invalid notion.

            The Egyptian magicians imitated the miracles of Moses and Aaron to a large extent (Exodus 7). If miracles are solely meant to draw people to Christ, then the miracles performed by those in the name of their gods would deceptively draw people to their gods. If miracles lead people away from Christ, the notion that miracles should solely lead people to Christ is self-defeating.

            The fact remains that miracles could be deceptive.   

            Satan deceives people through miracles, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing…” (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-10, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            Therefore, miracles are useless when it deceives people and draws them away from the living God.

3. Miracles Propels Evangelists

            Quite a few evangelists / miracle-workers perform miracles to propel themselves into greater fame and power. The Bible reveals this fact.

            The Bible records Simon’s unholy eagerness to perform miracles (cf. Acts 8: 21-22). Simon probably desired to perform miracles to propel him to greater fame. The depravity of man’s heart remains the same then and now. Now quite a few evangelists use miracles to glorify themselves.

            Sadly the destinies of these people are abundantly clear. They are eternally doomed (Matthew 7: 22-23). Although the miracles these people perform could bring people to Christ, these miracles, in their own eternal context, are useless.

4. Miracles Entertain People

            Miracles do possess an entertainment value.

            Herod desired entertainment from Christ, so he hoped that the Lord would perform miracles (Luke 23: 8-9). This is the situation with quite a few people today. They look upon miracles as a means of entertainment.  This is another situation where miracles would be rendered useless.

            Furthermore, could we pray for miracles in our life today? Yes! Miracles could be a means of God’s answer to our prayers.

            How do we recognize if a miracle is from God or not? Miracles from God save man from his terrible predicament. Satan, as an agent of destruction, need not always save man from his predicament, unless ordained by God for a specific reason.

            On a rather detached tangent, what about those among us who remain idle while expecting a miracle to happen?

            This is a complex question. A universal answer is not a good choice to deal with this predicament. A suitable alternative is to examine every situation as independent of another within this context.

            As a case in point, consider a Christian who refuses to eat medicines but waits on God to perform a miracle of healing. While God can accede to this request, HE could, as a just and a sovereign being, deny this prayer request. Hence, it is upon the Christian to know the will of the Lord.

            The prayer life of a Christian should determine whether he/she waits upon the Lord for a miracle or consumes medicines, all the while knowing that medicines are also an agent of God’s healing for man.  

            So to conclude, the Bible reveals that Satan (a created being and enabled by God to perform miracles) could be a secondary source for miracles. In this instance, miracles will lead people away from Christ. So miracles need not always have God as its source (although God is the ultimate source for all miracles).

            Man could also employ his [corrupt] freewill to draw people to himself rather than God. So miracles need not always be for the sake of God’s glory.

            When a believer of Christ employs miracles for his selfish agendas, God need not necessarily confiscate the spiritual gift of miracles from him / her. The believer is responsible to use every gift for the sake of God’s glory. 

           Therefore, miracles should not be blindly believed to be as from God or as approved by God. Hence miracles ought to be perceived with utmost spiritual diligence.

Endnotes:

[1] Dr. William Lane Craig defines miracles as extraordinary acts of providence which should not be conceived, properly speaking, as violations of the laws of nature, but as the production of events which are beyond the causal powers of the natural entities existing at the relevant time and place. (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/creation-providence-and-miracle)

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/24660240



Monday, July 6, 2015

Prophet Muhammad A Friend Of Christians? (Islam-Christianity Brotherhood)


            Should Christians and Muslims be archenemies?

            Christians have no reason whatsoever to persecute anyone; they are mandated to love their neighbors. However, Islamic State’s (ISIS) persecution of Christians has probably amplified the Islam-Christianity divide – the notion that Islam constantly endeavors to persecute Christians.

            During the few years I lived in the Kingdom of Bahrain, I was constantly thankful to God for the peaceful ambiance offered by the rulers of Bahrain to the Christians. My Christian friends living in the Arabian Peninsula would affirm this perception from their location.

            Sincere Muslims abide by Prophet Muhammad’s mandates. Hence, examining Prophet Muhammad’s attitude towards Christians is an appropriate vantage point to study the dynamics of relationship between Muslims and Christians.

            “Achtiname of Muhammad” is a letter written by Prophet Muhammad upon the request of a delegation from St. Catherine’s monastery - world’s oldest monastery located at the foot of Mt. Sinai. St. Catherine’s monastery is a treasure house of Christian history and a world heritage site that remained safe for 1400 years under Islamic protection.

            Prophet Muhammad’s letter to St. Catherine's monastery, affirmed for its historical authenticity and preserved in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, states his firm support to the Christians then and now, “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them…

            …No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate…

            …Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).” [1]

            This is the English translation of the “Achtiname” by Anton F. Haddad:

            “This is a letter which was issued by Mohammed, Ibn Abdullah, the Messenger, the Prophet, the Faithful, who is sent to all the people as a trust on the part of God to all His creatures, that they may have no plea against God hereafter. Verily God is the Mighty, the Wise. This letter is directed to the embracers of Islam, as a covenant given to the followers of Nazarene in the East and West, the far and near, the Arabs and foreigners, the known and the unknown.

            This letter contains the oath given unto them, and he who disobeys that which is therein will be considered a disobeyer and a transgressor to that whereunto he is commanded. He will be regarded as one who has corrupted the oath of God, disbelieved His Testament, rejected His Authority, despised His Religion, and made himself deserving of His Curse, whether he is a Sultan or any other believer of Islam. Whenever monks, devotees and pilgrims gather together, whether in a mountain or valley, or den, or frequented place, or plain, or church, or in houses of worship, verily we are [at the] back of them and shall protect them, and their properties and their morals, by Myself, by My Friends and by My Assistants, for they are of My Subjects and under My Protection.

            I shall exempt them from that which may disturb them…nor the monks disturbed in exercising their religious order, or the people of seclusion be stopped from dwelling in their cells.

            No one is allowed to plunder the pilgrims, or destroy or spoil any of their churches, or houses of worship, or take any of the things contained within these houses and bring it to the houses of Islam. And he who takes away anything therefrom, will be one who has corrupted the oath of God, and, in truth, disobeyed His Messenger…for they are under My Protection and the testament of My Safety, against all things which they abhor.

            No taxes or tithes should be received from those who devote themselves to the worship of God in the mountains, or from those who cultivate the Holy Lands. No one has the right to interfere with their affairs, or bring any action against them. Verily this is for aught else and not for them; rather, in the seasons of crops, they should be given a Kadah for each Ardab of wheat (about five bushels and a half) as provision for them, and no one has the right to say to them this is too much, or ask them to pay any tax.

            As to those who possess properties, the wealthy and merchants, the poll-tax to be taken from them must not exceed twelve Dirhams a head per year (i.e. about 45 cents).

            They shall not be imposed upon by anyone to undertake a journey, or to be forced to go to wars or to carry arms; for the Muslims have to fight for them. Do no dispute or argue with them, but deal according to the verse recorded in the Koran, to wit: ‘Do not dispute or argue with the People of the Book but in that which is best’ [29:46]. Thus they will live favored and protected from everything which may offend them by the Callers to religion (Islam), wherever they may be and in any place they may dwell.

            Should any Christian woman be married to a Musulman, such marriage must not take place except after her consent, and she must not be prevented from going to her church for prayer. Their churches must be honored and they must not be withheld from building churches or repairing convents.

            They must not be forced to carry arms or stones; but the Muslims must protect them and defend them against others. It is positively incumbent upon every one of the Islam nation not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.” [2]

            Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delaware, and founding director of Islamic Studies program, asserts the implications of Prophet Muhammad’s letter, “The first and the final sentence of the charter are critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. Muhammed asserts that Muslims are with Christians near and far, straight away rejecting any future attempts to limit the promise to St. Catherine alone.

            By ordering Muslims to obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future attempts to revoke the privileges. These rights are inalienable.

            Muhammed declared Christians, all of them, as his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating God’s covenant.

            A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties!” [3]

            Sincere Muslims revere Prophet Muhammad and abide by his teachings. Therefore, Muslims, namely the ISIS and the likes, who persecute Christians despite the “Achtiname” are disobeying their Prophet.

            Another significant implication of the “Achtiname” is upon the existence of Christian churches in Islamic nations. Islamic nations should not prevent the existence of the Christian church.

            In other words, Christians should be allowed to worship their God in public and in the community of fellow Christians in Islamic nations. Islamic nations should allow Christians to worship without inhibition.

            If Prophet Muhammad had indeed affirmed his support to Christians, there should be an indestructible brotherly relationship between Muslims and Christians, despite the irreconcilable differences in theology.

Endnotes:

[1] http://newsrescue.com/letter-to-all-christians-from-prophet-muhammad-sa/  

[2] Ibid.


[3] http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2009/12/30/prophet-muhammads-promise-to-christians/125

Monday, June 29, 2015

Same Sex Marriages Legitimized; Why The Hoopla? (A Christian’s Response)


            In a historic ruling, the SCOTUS legitimized same sex marriages in the USA.

            On one end of the response spectrum was a threat from 10,000 pastors from the ‘Black Robe Regiment’ – preachers wearing black robes – to die if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriages. On the other end, the liberal and postmodern Christians would welcome the legitimization of same sex marriages because they favor the practice of homosexuality within Christianity.

            In general, many genuine Christians continue to express surprise and disappointment at this ruling. Surprise and disappointment is legitimate if we are living in a world free of evil. But we live in an evil world.

            Evil will continue to rule our world until the Lord returns to annihilate the Satan. So instead of expending energy into surprise and disappointment, should we not focus on facing reality in the presence of the Lord Jesus?

            The evil practices of this world will continue to flourish. Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity should be aware of this fact.

            Anti-Christian disposition will continue to flourish. The rejection of God will gain further momentum and will permeate into all facets of our life. 

            Liberals who demand tolerance from Historic Christianity will hypocritically not tolerate Historic Christianity. More and more liberals will gain control over all facets of life and will make life extremely difficult for Christians.

            Now that homosexual marriages are at par with heterosexual marriages in the U.S, it’s only a matter of time when this trend captures the whole world. Do not ever think that your country is immune to legitimization of homosexual marriages and that this abomination of a marriage will never plant its feet in your soil.

            Do not be surprised if the world rules that homosexual marriages are more preferred than the heterosexual marriages.

            Do not be surprised if polygamy (more than one spouse) and polyamory (group relationships) are legitimized next [1].

            If polygamy and polyamory are considered taboo now, it could no longer be taboo in a decade or so. Such will be the way of this world, so prepare for it now.

            Legitimization of homosexual marriages is similar to legitimizing polygamy or polyamory or marriage between humans and animals. LGBT community preaches love through slogans such as, "Marriage is About Love," "All We Need Is Love," "All Love Is Equal," "Love Wins" etc. Since LGBT community exalts love over gender, they could support polygamy or polyamory or even a marriage between humans and animals.

            Host of other sinful practices could be legitimized next e.g. pedophilia. Pedophiles have already demanded same rights as homosexuals [2], since American Psychiatric Association termed pedophilia as a sexual orientation. (Subsequently APA recanted and termed pedophilia as a disorder. [3])

            If the pedophilia group lobbies powerfully as the LGBT, it’s a mere matter of time for pedophilia to be legitimized. In fact, child porn could be legitimized before pedophilia [4].  

            The principle that governs the liberal mind is “nothing is taboo.” A world that loves evil will indulge greater evil. Be prepared and do not be surprised.

            How are we to prepare?

            First, realize the genuine concern.

            Why are sincere Christians against legitimization of homosexual marriages? Is it because we hate homosexuals? No! We hate no one. But we are against the practice of homosexuality because it is against God and nature.

            The only marriage that’s pure in God’s sight is the marriage between a man and a woman. All other relationships and marriages are an abomination in God’s sight.

            Government’s legitimization of homosexual marriages would entail the following:

            A. Homosexuality will no longer be a sin / disorder / immoral act according to the law of the land.

            B. Homosexual marriages would be equal to heterosexual marriages.

            C. Host of other immoral and sinful acts such as pedophilia, incest, bestiality, pansexuality, object sexuality etc could be legitimized based on the legitimization of homosexuality. 

            D. Frighten / imprison those who speak and act against homosexuality.

            Second, where is God when such evil is on the rise?

            William Lane Craig said it beautifully in his facebook page, “God has chosen once again to allow people to freely choose their own undoing rather than intervene to preserve righteousness. “Therefore God gave them up” (Rom. 1.24). I fear that with this Supreme Court decision re-defining marriage, America has passed a watershed in its cultural and moral degradation. It beggars the imagination that our society allows states to prohibit marriage between first cousins (despite their love for one another, etc.) and yet will not allow states to prohibit marriage between two men or two women. Churches and religious institutions who refuse to re-define marriage in order to accommodate cultural pressures will now find themselves increasingly under duress”

            God will allow man to exercise his freewill to his own eternal doom. God will not intervene to preserve righteousness every day. Today the west leads the world in moral degradation. The east and the rest will follow suit.

            Do not get disappointed or disoriented with God. Until the Lord returns, evil will flourish. Then the Lord will return to finally eliminate evil once and for all.

            Third, do not be discouraged by the powers-that-are. The powers-that-are will endorse evil.

            President Obama (@POTUS) tweeted this after SCOTUS’ decision, “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins.” That the POTUS endorsed the SCOTUS [5] does not alter the truth of God’s Word.

            Do not allow our faith in Christ & the Bible to be swayed by the powers-that-are. Let not the powers-that-are dictate our opinions.

            Let us not allow the world to move us away from the Lord or HIS Word – the Bible. Let us not allow those in power to determine our faith in Christ. Let us allow the Lord to rule over us and speak to us through HIS Word – the Bible. Let us be mindful of the Lord and not the world. Let us be students of the Bible.  

            Finally, how should the Church respond to the government decrees that contradict the Bible?

            The Christian church is responsible to disciple Christians to live through these difficult times because many Christians attend church regularly than read their Bibles diligently.

            If the church does not disciple the believers, Christians would endorse homosexuality based on the command “to love our neighbor.” Naïve Christians may not be aware of the Bible’s stand that homosexuality is a sin - affirmed in both the Old and the New Testaments. Hence the church should teach that homosexuals are to be loved but their sin of homosexuality should be rebuked, so that they may repent and live a life that would glorify Christ. 

            Pray for the pastors who preach against homosexuality. They will be scrutinized and persecuted. If they refuse to marry homosexuals, they could be sued and/or imprisoned. These are difficult times for those who desire to live according to the Bible. Pray for those who desire to glorify the Lord Jesus while being in this situation. May our faith in Christ be strengthened. Amen.   



Endnotes:

[1] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/gay-marriage-decision-polygamy-119469.html#ixzz3eDKLPeVn

[2] http://www.greeleygazette.com/press/?p=11517

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/pedophilia-sexual-orientation_n_4183482.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in

[4] http://www.greeleygazette.com/press/?p=11517


[5] http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/White-House-Lit-Up-With-Rainbow-After-Same-Sex-Marriage-Ruling-310199591.html          

Monday, June 22, 2015

What If Jesus Is NOT GOD?


            Some Christians do not believe in Christ’s deity (i.e. Jesus Christ is God). They may subscribe to a position that denies Christ’s true divinity (e.g. Adoptionism or Eutychianism) and could belong to groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism.

            An average Christian who believes in Christ’s deity cannot expound or defend his belief when confronted by a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism, who would passionately deny Christ’s deity. Why?

            Broadly, Christians, having been continuously indoctrinated of Christ’s deity, blindly believe this to be a fact. They are vague, since they have not adequately considered this subject.

            Instead of examining reasons for Christ’s deity (i.e. why Christ is God), we could consider the implications of denying Christ’s deity (i.e. what if Christ is not God?). Those who deny Jesus’ deity should confront a few challenges that are highlighted here:

            First and foremost, the Bible reveals that man is saved ONLY if he believes in Christ (Galatians 2: 16; Romans 10: 9-10, John 3:16). The Bible also reveals Christ as God in human form (Mark 14: 61-62; John 20: 28; Colossians 1: 16-17; Philippians 2: 5-11; Titus 2: 13; Hebrews 1: 8). Those who deny Christ’s deity force their bias into these texts. A proper exegesis of these texts asserts Christ’s deity.

            So a believer of Christ should believe in Christ, and that belief includes Christ’s deity.  The classical understanding is that the second person of Godhead took upon the human nature in addition to HIS divine nature.   

            The disciples of Christ who believed in HIM were called Christians (Acts 11: 26c). If a person does not believe in Christ’s deity, he / she surely cannot qualify to be a Christian so to be on par with other Christ-believing Christians.

How Would People Be Saved If Christ Is Not God?

            Christ ought to be God to save mankind of sins through HIS sacrificial death [resurrection and ascension]. Christ’s virgin birth that precludes transmission of sin and HIS sinless perfection in life – an attribute of HIS divinity – are essential for man’s salvation.

            If Christ is not God, HE cannot be eternal, so HIS sacrifice cannot posit an eternal value i.e. HIS onetime sacrificial death cannot be appropriated to the believers in the past, present and the future.

            Salvation by grace through faith is a non-negotiable tenet of Historic Christianity. The Bible states that the believers are saved by the grace of God through their faith in Christ. Consequentially, our good works cannot get us to heaven.

            If Christ is not God, good works should get us to heaven. But the Bible categorically asserts that good works cannot save anyone (Romans 3: 20; Ephesians 2: 8-9; Titus 3: 5).

            An imperfect (sinful) man cannot perform good works to perfection. So he cannot go to heaven. If God still hauls this imperfect man into heaven, then by implication, good works is unnecessary, since God, in any case, will haul all degrees of imperfections into heaven. So salvation by good works is a self destructing position.  

            Significantly, those who do not believe in Christ as God remain in an appalling predicament. If good works cannot save people and if the man Jesus cannot save people, how would they be saved (if Christ is not God)?

Could The Man Jesus Save Humanity?

            Why was Jesus’ narrative included in the Bible if HE was not considered as God by the authors? If Jesus is not God, HE is a meaningless component in the Bible.

            Some may argue that God saves people through the man Jesus. Why would God sacrifice a man to save mankind of their sins when HE could have sacrificed a goat or an unclean pig?

            Why did God intend horrendous suffering and crucifixion for the man Jesus when suffering was totally unnecessary? Is God a cosmic sadist?  

            If Christ was a man, he was a sinner. An imperfect sacrifice cannot save mankind from their sins. A sinner cannot save another sinner. Or on what merits could a sinner save another sinner?

            God-ordained animal sacrifices (performed in the Old Testament) provided a temporary covering of sins. The animal sacrifices did not save man, but God saved man through the animal sacrifices.

            So Christ’s sacrifice, if HE were not God, would be non-salvific or could only save  himself – albeit temporarily, not permanently.  

            Hence C.S Lewis in his classic work Mere Christianity said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

            In addition, if Christ is not God…

Bible Is Erroneous

            Bible is the primary source that reveals Christ’s deity. The Bible would be fallible if Christ is not God. A fallible Bible is not trustworthy.

Christianity & Other Theistic Religions Are Alike

            The deity of Jesus Christ is a significantly unique facet of Christianity. Nothing separates Christianity from other religions if Christ is not God.

            In fact, Hinduism believes in the deity of Christ. Hindus believe that Christ is one among the many gods they believe in. If Christians do not believe in Christ as God, it seems that Hindus are more Christians than the non-Christ-believing Christians.

Christ Need Not Be Believed Or Worshipped

            Belief and worship of Christ is immaterial if Christ is not God. But the Bible mandates everyone to believe in Christ for salvation and worship HIM alone [W].

            If Christ is not God, people merely ought to believe in God. So which flavor of God should they believe in? Obviously not the God of the Bible, since the Bible would be erroneous if Christ is not God. So would they believe in the God of Quran or Vedas….?

            In order to conclude, let us consider the following:

Necessity of Christ

            The apostle Paul, after establishing Christ’s divinity, asserts Christ’s necessity, “…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied…” (1 Corinthians 15: 17-19, NASB).

            Resurrection of Christ makes profound salvific sense only because Christ is God. Had Christ not been God, HIS resurrection would have been a mere miracle without salvific significance, similar to the resurrections of the widow’s son, Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter.

How Did Christ Respond To Those Who Did Not Believe HIM?

            The Pharisees denied Christ’s deity. So Christ doomed them to hell (cf. Matthew 5: 20). HE also humiliated them by labeling them blind guides, fools, snakes, brood of vipers, hypocrites, and whitewashed tombs.

            So Christ is God. There’s no denying this fact. But there are consequences to denying Christ. I pray that everyone believes in Christ and be saved. Amen.  


Endnotes:


[W] The Bible mandates worship of Jesus (Matthew 2:2, 2: 11, 4: 10, 8: 2, 14: 33, 28: 9; Luke 24: 52; John 9: 38; Hebrews 1: 6), thus affirming Christ’s deity. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jesus Drank Wine, So Could Christians Drink Alcohol?



            Christ drank wine from the Passover cup (Mark 14: 23) and possibly otherwise (Luke 7: 33-34). Christ’s first miracle – to turn water into wine – implied that HE did not object to drinking of wine. Then the Bible mandates Christians to be Christlike [1].

            Some Christians attribute their habit of drinking to Christ. They argue that since Christ drank wine, they could drink too. Some extend this argument when they ask, isn’t it Christlikeness that Christians are to focus on, if so, why not drink? Thus the Christian who seeks to consume alcoholic beverages justifies his temptation (or his desire) through Christ.

            Within this context, there are two groups in Christianity. One group argues that Christ did not drink wine except from the Passover cup. This group believes in total abstinence, which is that the believers should not drink. Others think that since Christ drank wine, they could adopt a more tolerant or a rather validating attitude towards moderate drinking.

            Dr. Norman Geisler, an advocate of total abstinence, emphasized that during biblical times, beer and wine were consumed in moderation. More importantly, they were diluted (3 parts water and 1 part wine), and hence did not cause intoxication while consumed in moderation. In comparison, today’s beer and wine are categorized as strong drinks that are condemned by the Bible. [2]

            This article is not about whether Christ drank wine or not or whether moderate drinking is a sin or not, but it’s about whether a Christian could use Christ as a means to drink alcohol. Hence, let’s concede that Christ may have consumed wine although HE certainly would not have been drunk with wine. Drunkenness is a sin whereas Christ was sinless.   

            When a Christian justifies his drinking, even in moderation, through Christ’s consumption of wine, two problems emerge to the forefront:

            Problem #1: Is this Christian more in love with alcohol than Christ?

            Evidently, those who consume alcohol love alcohol. Why would they drink alcohol, if they do not like / love it?

            Anyone who maintains that they do not love alcohol but nevertheless consume it are either addicted to alcohol or compelled to drink because of social or business obligation. Bible denounces addiction. Those who detest alcohol would not drink it or could find gazillion ways and means to evade drinking alcohol, if they so want to.

            Significantly, a Christian is to love Christ and hence follow HIM all through his life. In other words, because he loves the Lord Jesus, the Christian would ardently desire to obey and follow Christ.

            But a Christian who justifies his desire to drink alcohol through Christ could be more in love with alcohol than Christ. His desperation for alcohol alludes to this fact. If this is true, then anyone who loves Christ less, sins against God, for he / she violates the greatest commandment, which is to love the Lord our God with all our life.

            Importantly, a Christian who justifies his drinking through Christ is treading dangerous waters. Anyone who uses the Lord as a means to fulfill his / her carnal desire is playing losing games with God, the supreme judge, who by virtue of knowing man’s heart, will judge him / her for every perverted desire (cf. Matthew 12: 36).

               Problem #2: If a Christian justifies his drinking through Christ, then would he / she do all that Christ did (i.e. the physical activities) or are they merely looking to be preferential in their obedience to Christ? 

            Bear with me now; some of the questions that I am going to raise may appear to be as retarded. But such is the state of justification of drinking through Christ.

            For instance, Christ did not have a place of his own (cf. Luke 9: 58), so are we not called to own a home or to live in a particular location but keep moving from one location to another all through our lifetime?

            Christ died [resurrected and ascended into heaven] at a fairly young age of 33, so are we to die young?

            Christ fasted 40 days and 40 nights, so are we to fast similarly?

            Christ drove out business people from the temple, so are we to wield that authority to weed out unholy business from the church of Jesus Christ today?

            Similarly, Christ died for the sake of our sins, so are we to die for the sake of other’s sins?

            Or are we to remain single and advocate singleness just because Christ was not married; albeit by contradicting the Bible that endorses a heterosexual marriage?

            We cannot literally do all that Christ did or did not do.

            Christ is God. HE came for a specific purpose, which was to die for the sake of man to save him of his sins, so whatever HE did was towards the purpose of redemption. 

            Christlikeness is not to perform the identical physical activities that Christ performed. Christlikeness is to possess an attitude similar to that of Christ in loving, forgiving, sacrificing our carnal desires for the sake of the kingdom etc.

            Significantly, Christlikeness is achieved by the inhabitation of the Lord Jesus in each believer – Christ in us, the hope of glory (cf. Colossians 1: 27). A believer who is Christlike will never contradict Christ; rather perfectly synchronize with HIM.

            Therefore, the man who strives to justify his drinking to Christ will only find himself contradicting with the Lord, for HE cannot do everything the Lord did or did not do. So he would find himself in a deeper dungeon. The man who uses Christ as a means to justify his drinking, sins against the Lord and will have only himself to blame and not anyone else.

            We are not done yet.

            Does moderate drinking benefit us?

            Some may argue that moderate drinking does not interfere with their life or their spirituality, and hence could be continued. Unfortunately recent scientific discoveries seem to disprove this notion.

            National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2004 specified that moderate drinking leads to short term health damages [3]. If moderate drinking damages health - be it short or long term - should it not be avoided?

            A paper published in Neuroscience in 2012 indicated the harmful effects of moderate drinking. These scientists concluded that moderate drinking could have profound effects on the structural plasticity of the adult brain because the number of cells produced in the brain was reduced by 40% [4].

            Another paper published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 discovered that moderate drinking (equivalent to less than 500 ml of beer or 2 small glasses of wine a day) is detrimental to health [5]. These scientists concluded that the lesser our alcohol consumption, the better would be our cardiovascular health.

            Hence, we could enjoy the best of cardiovascular health if we totally abstain from drinking.

            So whether Christ drank or not is a moot point; utterly irrelevant to whether we should drink or not. If we agree that our motive in life is to remain safe and secure, then the safest bet for us then is to abstain from drinking. 

Endnotes:

[1] 1 John 2: 6; Romans 8: 29; Ephesians 4: 13; 1 Corinthians 1: 11; Philippians 2: 5, 3:10 etc.

[2] https://criswell.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/ctrgeislerformatted.pdf

[3] http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm

[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452212008457

&


http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/10/study-even-moderate-drinking-impairs-brain-cell-formation/264129/

[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2688161/Moderate-drinking-IS-bad-health-Just-
two-glasses-wine-day-cause-problems.html

&

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20140711/a-little-alcohol-may-not-be-good-for-your-heart-after-all