Thursday, August 31, 2017

Terrible Worship Songs; Should We Sing Them?

        Age-old hymns and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) are predominantly sung in the churches. Contemporary Christian Music is also labeled as “Worship Songs” or “Praise & Worship Songs.”

            Quite undoubtedly, young people are largely attracted to churches that sing contemporary worship songs. However, the detractors of worship songs claim that some of these songs are theologically incorrect and hence they should not be sung in churches.

            This is not an endeavor to establish or suggest the supremacy of either of these genres of Christian music. But is it possible to justify Contemporary Christian Music, even if it is not theologically correct, for the simple reason that it attracts young Christians to the churches?

            Consider two key allegations against contemporary worship songs:

            (1) Some songs do not mention God or Jesus e.g. “In the Secret” & “Draw Me Close.” If the song does not mention God, it’s quite easy to misunderstand the lyrics. These songs would make sense if they were sung in churches or clubs.

            Consider the song “Draw me close,’ “Who do you want to draw you close? Could be the Lord. Could also be your middle school crush.”1

            The song ‘In the Secret’ contains the lyrics, “I want to touch you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more.” Since this song does not mention God or Jesus, “It’s tough to sing lines like these when the song never mentions who you’re singing to, and this one never does. The vague lyrics could easily suggest a plan to sneak around and make out in the bushes or a desire to encounter Jesus.”2

            (2) Some songs contain faulty theology. The song, “When I look into your Holiness” contained the lyric, “when my will becomes enthroned in your love.” Our will cannot be enthroned in God’s love; instead HIS will should be ours. Hence, a more acceptable word “enthralled” replaced the contentious word “enthroned.” Our will can certainly be enthralled by HIS love, but it cannot be enthroned in HIS love.

            Another well known song that apparently contains faulty theology is, “Blessed be your name,” “the lyrics of the bridge (“You give and take away…”) are problematic.”3 The faulty theology is explained here, “The words “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away,” from the lips of Job, are not good theology.  They’re bad theology.  According to Job 1, it was not God, but the Devil who took away Job’s children, health and wealth.  God allowed it to happen, but when Job said these words, as the rest of the story shows, he was not yet enlightened about the true nature of where his calamity came from and what God’s will actually was for his life — which was for good, and not for harm.”4

            Poor theology could be excused but what about songs devoid of theology? A well-known song, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), is a case in point, “The whole thing seems to live in this self-indulgent purgatory, without any concrete statement of faith, without any trace of the Christian story, beginning and ending in these dream-like sequences of possible drowning. And it’s simply not a congregational song. If you MUST sing it, have it be done as a prayer by a soloist.”5

            Are these allegations devoid of rationality? Should we continue to sing these contentious worship songs?

            First, should we not sing any song that does not mention God or Jesus? If we are literally bound to this rule, then we should protest against the book of Esther (in the Old Testament), for there is no mention of God in the book of Esther.

            If the worship song does not mention God or Jesus, would not the sole purpose for writing the song and/or the context in which that song is sung, provide the much needed credibility to that song?

            The contentious song, Oceans, written by Hillsong United, was written for the sole purpose of singing in the church to worship God. Isn’t this sufficient to prove that that song is a Christian song? 

            Likewise, even if the song does not mention God or Jesus would not the church in which it is sung offer clarity that that song was meant to worship and glorify God?

            Second, should a worship song that is theologically incorrect be discarded? A worship song should be discarded if it contains a heresy. A worship song should be discarded, if it denies the core tenets of Historic Christianity.

            If the worship song does not promote a heresy, it need not be discarded. If a worship song does not deny the core tenets of Historic Christianity, it could be tolerated or suitable changes could be made to that song (if possible).

            Finally, those who claim to have apostatized6 because of a theologically incorrect worship song would discover, upon sincere introspection, the underlying reason(s) that was/were the primary cause for their desertion. For instance, a deep disappointment in God or Christians could surface while hearing or singing a particular worship song.

            Therefore, it is that deep disappointment in God that motivated the apostasy, and not the worship song. A worship song, in itself, cannot be cited as the sole reason to reject Christianity.

            Satan has succeeded in making substantial splits in Christianity, let us not be his agent to divide the church anymore. Let us be channels of unity and peace in the church of Jesus Christ.

Endnotes:

1https://www.onfaith.co/discussion/lets-stop-singing-these-10-worship-songs?facebook_join=1#/_=_

2Ibid.

3http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2016/02/08/10-worship-songs-we-should-stop-singing/2/#MrvQMLLOUg7DEuEV.99

4http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/01/24/good-grief-soundings-part-one/#PYCFjAGxD8hr1rbU.99

5http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2016/02/08/10-worship-songs-we-should-stop-singing/5/#Prb0QwOLVZUIqQwy.99


6http://www.nashvillescene.com/music/article/13056969/how-a-terrible-worship-song-drove-me-from-christianity

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Exclusivity Claims of Major World Religions

You may have encountered and engaged these claims, “Christianity is intolerant!” and “Christianity is exclusive!” The other religions are allegedly tolerant and hence, inclusive. Is it so? No! Every major religion claims exclusivity.
Within the theme of “Religious Diversity,” three relevant theories should be recognized.1 The “Pluralist theory” believes that one religion is as truthful as another. The “Exclusivist theory” considers only one religion as uniquely valuable – the sole bearer of truth. The “Inclusivist theory” finds merit with both the pluralistic and exclusivistic religions by arguing that while the exclusivistic religion could hold most value, the others still have religious value, for there may be partial truth in the other religions.
A religion proclaims exclusivity if it absolutely contradicts an essential doctrine (Godhead, Sin, Salvation etc.) of another religion. Since mutually contradictory statements cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense (Law of noncontradiction), the either-or logic (not the both-and) should be applied while determining the truth. When two religions mutually contradict each other, the truth remains with eitherreligion A or religion B (both religion A and religion B cannot be true, in this instance). Therefore, only one religion could be true, but the fact remains that both religions claim exclusivity, for both these religions claim to bear the truth.
Every major religion in the world, either implicitly or explicitly, claims exclusivity. Ravi Zacharias states, “The truth is that every major religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every major religion in the world has a point of exclusion…”2 Therefore, a preliminary study of the claims of exclusivity of the major world religions is in order.

Exclusivity of Hinduism

Hinduism, one of the world’s oldest religious systems, claims to be inclusive.But it is not so.
Hinduism excludes other religions based on its core doctrines. Consider the doctrine of God in Hinduism. Brahman, the absolute God of Hinduism, is a mysterious being.4
Although Brahman is one God, he manifests in innumerable forms, “Hinduism is unique because it is essentially a monotheistic faith which acknowledges polytheism as reflective of the diversity in God’s creation. God is one, but also many. He manifests Himself in innumerable forms and shapes.”5 But the God of Christianity does not manifest Himself in innumerable forms. Hence, Hinduism should exclude Christianity or Islam on the basis of the Godhead. The same holds true for doctrines such as karma and reincarnation, which absolutely contradict Christianity and other religions.
While Hinduism claims inclusivity, it excludes the exclusivists, “Hinduism does not recognize claims of exclusivity or a clergy. Anyone who claims to by [sic] the exclusive possessor of spiritual truth or the only ‘method’ of reaching God finds no place in Hinduism; a method or a message can only be one among many…Krishna, speaking as God in the Bhagavad-Gita, says, “All paths lead to me”, and also those who worship other gods with devotion worship me….Hinduism does not force itself on others through proselytisation…”6
Existentially, Hinduism contradicts its own claims for inclusivity. If Hinduism is truly inclusive, it would not proselytize. But Hinduism, in India – the country of its origin, is actively converting people. The recent Ghar Wapsi (Home Coming) program in India is a classic case in point. Ghar Wapsi is, “a series of religious conversion activities, facilitated by Indian Hindu organizations Vishva Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, to facilitate conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism”7
Furthermore, Ravi Zacharias, who was born into a Hindu household, asserts the exclusivity of Hinduism, “Hinduism, for example, is often represented as being the most tolerant and accepting of other faiths. That is just not true. All Hindus believe in two fundamental, uncompromising doctrines—the Law of Karma, and the belief in reincarnation.”8
Therefore it is very reasonable to conclude that Hinduism is not an inclusive faith, since it claims exclusivity.

Exclusivity of Buddhism

Rejection of Hinduism led to the birth of Buddhism, says Ravi Zacharias, “Buddhism was born out of the rejection of two other very dogmatic claims of Hinduism. Buddha rejected the authority of the vedas and the caste system of Hinduism.”9
There are several irreconcilable differences between Buddhism and Historic Christianity. Two such differences are found below:
First, Buddhism rejects the notion of a personal God, which is in stark contrast to Christianity, “There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day.”10 However, Buddha is worshipped by some Buddhists.
Second, Buddhism excludes other religions that believe in sin, for there is no such thing as sin in Buddhism, “Buddhists do not regard man as sinful by nature of ‘in rebellion against god’. Every human being is a person of great worth who has within himself a vast store of good as well as evil habits…According to Buddhism, there is no such thing as sin as explained by other religions.”11
There are many such points of exclusions in Buddhism. Hence, Buddhism is also an exclusive religion.

Exclusivity of Islam

Islam, being strictly monotheistic, rejects every contradicting worldview (Trinitarian monotheism, polytheism, pantheism etc.). Moreover, Islam, by virtue of rejecting Christ’s divinity, excludes Christianity.
Islam is also a legalistic system. A Muslim must earn his salvation by holding to the “Articles of Faith” (belief in God, Angels, Scripture, Prophets, and Last Days) and following the “Pillars of Faith” (The Creed, Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting, and Hajj Pilgrimage). This is in absolute contrast to Christianity, which believes that man is not saved by his good deeds, but is saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Islam stakes claim to exclusivity by excluding the contradicting religions.

Exclusivity of Judaism

It may be an effortless task to prove Judaism’s claim to exclusivity vis-à-vis other religions that are not named Christianity. Judaism and Christianity have much in common. Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, in their work “Handbook of Today’s Religions,” state the fundamental similarity, “It is to historic Judaism, the Judaism of the Old Testament, that Christianity traces its roots. Christianity does not supplant Old Testament Judaism, it is the fruition of Old Testament Judaism. One cannot hold to the Bible, Old and New Testaments, as God’s one divine revelation without also recognizing and honoring the place God has given historic Judaism.”12
Given this relationship between Judaism and Christianity, the exclusivity of Judaism would be clearly emphasized if Judaism excludes Christianity. A couple of points of exclusion are highlighted below:
First, Judaism rejects the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, “While Christianity recognizes that the promise of a personal, spiritual savior is the core of biblical revelation, Judaism has long vacillated in the concept of messiahship. That Jesus Christ, the true Messiah predicted in God’s Word, would be rejected by the Jews of the first century shows that even at that time there was divergence of opinion on the meaning and authority of messianic passages in Scripture. In the course of Jewish history the meaning of the Messiah had undergone changes. Originally, it was believed that God would send His special messenger, delivering Israel from her oppressors and instituting peace and freedom. However, today any idea of a personal messiah has been all but abandoned by the majority of the Jews. It has been substituted with the hope of a messianic age characterized by truth and justice.”13
Second, the salvation of the Jews is predicated on sacrifices, penitence, good deeds and a little of God’s grace, since they reject the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.14 Salvation in Christianity is absolutely contingent on God’s grace, but not on the performance of good deeds.

Conclusion  

Every major religion of the world remains exclusive, for there are irreconcilable contradictions between these religions. The notion that Historic Christianity is the only religion that claims exclusivity is, therefore, incorrect.

Endnotes:

6M. G. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: National Upsurge, A.P.H Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, 2004, p61.
9Ibid.
12Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, “Handbook of Today’s Religions,” Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1983, p364.
13Ibid. p372.
14Ibid. p373.
Websites cited were last accessed on 2nd August 2017.

This article was published at www.christianapologeticsalliance.com

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yeshua or Jesus? How Do We Call HIM?

            Don’t call HIM Jesus, call HIM Yeshua! Some messianic Jews and some Christians insist that Jesus should only be called Yeshua, “Some people claim that our Lord should not be referred to as “Jesus.” Instead, we should only use the name “Yeshua.” Some even go so far as to say that calling Him “Jesus” is blasphemous. Others go into great detail about how the name “Jesus” is unbiblical because the letter J is a modern invention and there was no letter J in Greek or Hebrew.”1

            Is it a sin to call our Lord as Jesus? Should we eliminate the name Jesus, henceforth?  

The Case for Yeshua

            Those who call HIM Yeshua claim the following:

            (1) Yeshua/Yahshua (Yay-shoo-ah or Yah-shoo-ah) is the recognized Jewish name for Jesus.

            (2) The name ‘Jesus’ is a pagan invention, for it is derived from the pagan source of Isus or Zeus.

            (3) The name Jesus is not found in the Scriptures, “The Bible was not written in English. What we read in English today are translations from other languages. The "New Testament" was written in Greek. Hence, the name "Jesus" is found nowhere in the Scriptures - it is a translation of the Greek name "Iesous" (pronounced "[ee]yeh-sooce"). "Iesous" came over into the Latin "Jesu" (pronounced "yehsoo") and finally into English as "Jesus." So in the most technical sense, saying "Jesus" is saying a twice-removed translation of the name we find in the "New Testament" Scriptures…”2

The Case for Jesus: Rejecting the Hebrew Roots Movement

            The Hebrew Roots movement is probably the main cause for the Jesus / Yeshua controversy. It aims to recover the Jewishness of Christianity:3

The premise of the Hebrew Roots movement is the belief that the Church has veered far from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible…They teach that the understanding of the New Testament can only come from a Hebrew perspective and that the teachings of the Apostle Paul are not understood clearly or taught correctly by Christian pastors today. Many affirm the existence of an original Hebrew-language New Testament and, in some cases, denigrate the existing New Testament text written in Greek…they all adhere to a common emphasis on recovering the "original" Jewishness of Christianity…For the most part, those involved advocate the need for every believer to walk a Torah-observant life. This means that the ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant must be a central focus in the lifestyle of believers today as it was with the Old Testament Jews of Israel. Keeping the Torah includes keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week (Saturday), celebrating the Jewish feasts and festivals, keeping the dietary laws, avoiding the "paganism" of Christianity (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and learning to understand the Scriptures from a Hebrew mindset…they prefer to be identified as "Messianic Christians." Many have come to the conclusion that God has "called" them to be Jewish and have accepted the theological position that the Torah (Old Testament law) is equally binding on Gentiles and Jews alike. They often wear articles of traditional Jewish clothing, practice Davidic dancing, and incorporate Hebrew names and phrases into their writing and conversations. Most reject the use of the name "Jesus" in favor of Yeshua or YHWH, claiming that these are the "true" names that God desires for Himself. In most cases, they elevate the Torah as the foundational teaching for the Church, which brings about the demotion of the New Testament, causing it to become secondary in importance and only to be understood in light of the Old Testament…
            But recovering the Jewishness of Christianity is unnecessary, “God never intended Gentiles to become one in Israel, but one in Christ. The influence of this movement is working its way into our churches and seminaries. It's dangerous in its implication that keeping the Old Covenant law is walking a "higher path" and is the only way to please God and receive His blessings. Nowhere in the Bible do we find Gentile believers being instructed to follow Levitical laws or Jewish customs; in fact, the opposite is taught. Romans 7:6 says, "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."”4

The Case for Jesus: The New Testament Mentions Jesus not Yeshua

            If Yeshua is the only appropriate reference to our Lord, the authors of the New Testament (the Lord’s disciples included), who wrote the New Testament in Greek, would have used the name ‘Yeshua,’ isn’t it? But they did not! They transliterated the name of our Lord to “Iesous” (pronounced as ee-ay-sooce').5

            The fact that the New Testament does not use Christ’s Hebrew name is an adequate refutation of the Jesus / Yeshua controversy, “The entire New Testament was written in Greek, and the word Jesus is the word that is used.  It is not the Hebrew  יֵשׁוּעַ which is Yeshua.  So, it is simple.  Jesus is properly called Jesus… the New Testament uses "Jesus" as the name and not a Hebrew name.  For people to say that Jesus' real name is Yashua or Yahusha or Yahushua, etc., is Jesus' real name is just a statement of pushing an agenda and not believing the New Testament text.”6

            Some people believe that the New Testament was written in Hebrew. This is a false belief, “Some claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. However, the records of early church history do not support this assertion. Tatian, Papias, Tertullian and Irenaeus, to name but a few writers of the early church, describe the original writings and quote from them. Yet not a single quote is taken from a Hebrew text—all are taken from Greek texts. Although Papias asserts that Matthew compiled his early reports in Hebrew, no evidence is given. Early translations of the New Testament are all based on Greek texts. The Harmony of Tatian, translated in 170 AD, is based on a Greek original, as is The Muratorian Canon. The Old Latin version translated in 180 AD is based on a Greek original. Early Gothic, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Armenian and Palestinian versions are all based on Greek originals. Even the Aramaic versions of the New Testament are translations from the Greek (see The Books and the Parchments, by F. F. Bruce, p. 189). No evidence of a Hebrew original has been found in all the centuries that have followed the writing of the New Testament.”7

The Case for Jesus: Demons Tremble at the Name of Jesus

            Christians involved in the ministry of exorcism would claim that demons flee upon hearing Jesus’ name.

            If Yeshua is the only correct representation of the Lord, there is absolutely no need for the demons to respond to the name of Jesus. But the fact that the demons flee at the name of Jesus is an adequate and reasonable existential proof debunking the claim that Yeshua is the only correct reference to the Lord.

Conclusion

            Call HIM Jesus or Yeshua, it does not matter. But please do not claim that those who are calling HIM Jesus are sinning or blaspheming. 

           Let the words of these messianic Jews conclude this essay, “So now to the question…should we cease to call him Jesus?... If you relate to him by his name Jesus, then don’t let it be a burden to you to change to Yeshua if you don’t feel the need to. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know his voice...”8

            “In the words of Dr. Brown, “Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King...”9

Endnotes:

1https://www.gotquestions.org/Yeshua-Jesus.html

2https://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/yeshua.htm

3https://www.gotquestions.org/Hebrew-roots.html?fref=gc

4Ibid.

5http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/iesous.html

6https://carm.org/jesus-name-really-yeshua

7http://www.cbcg.org/franklin/SA/SA_NT_Originally_Written_in_Greek.pdf?fref=gc

8https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/jesus-vs-yeshua/

9https://www.gotquestions.org/Yeshua-Hamashiach.html


Websites cited were last accessed on 17th August 2017. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why Can’t Fallen Angels Repent?

            The notion that fallen angels cannot repent is, arguably, a common position held by many Christians. Since the Bible does not offer an explicit teaching on this theme, some Christians believe that fallen angels can repent. Since this is not an essential theme to uphold Historic Christianity, there is adequate scope for an agreement to differ.

            Understanding this theme will enable us to understand God’s expectation of man and the most appropriate response of man towards God.

Fallen Angels Cannot Repent

            Gotquestions.org states that fallen angels cannot repent:1

First, Satan (Lucifer) was one of the highest angels, perhaps the highest (Ezekiel 28:14). Lucifer—and all the angels—were continually in God’s presence and had knowledge of the glory of God. Therefore, they had no excuse for rebelling against God and turning away from Him. They were not tempted. Lucifer and the other angels rebelling against God despite what they knew was the utmost evil…Second, God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels as He did for mankind…Finally, the Bible gives us no reason to believe that angels would repent even if God gave them the chance (1 Peter 5:8). The fallen angels seem completely devoted to opposing God and attacking God's people. The Bible says that the severity of God’s judgment varies according to how much knowledge a person possesses (Luke 12:48). The fallen angels, then, with the great knowledge they possessed, are greatly deserving of God’s wrath.

            Although the reasons cited are highly persuasive, the question still remains as to why the fallen angels cannot repent.

The Intriguing Inability to Repent (The Freewill Conundrum)

            Angels were created by God as good beings. Hence the angels that rebelled against God should have had the freedom or freewill that caused them to rebel. This is affirmed by Gotquestions.org, “Satan was an angel who was cast out of heaven along with many other angels who decided to follow him and chose to sin (2 Peter 2:4). In terms of free will, the Bible reveals this was an exercise of their ability to choose (Jude 1:6).”2

            Hence, it is reasonable to believe that the angels had freewill. They would not have rebelled against God, in the first place, had they not possessed freewill. Moreover, God could not have created them as evil beings, since evil does not proceed from God.

            Since these fallen angels possess freewill, shouldn’t they be able to repent (they know God since the time of their creation, hence they have the opportunity to observe HIS goodness.)? If they cannot repent, does it mean that they have lost their freedom entirely or just the freewill to repent?

            If we believe that fallen angels cannot repent, then we need to resolve the freewill mystery. If fallen angels cannot repent, then it is quite plausible that they were deprived of their freewill after their fall. On the other hand, if their freewill is intact, why are they unable to exercise their freewill to repent?

            There could be another perspective to resolving this conundrum.

            When a pastor was exorcising a demon from a young girl, the demon apparently told him that they are under the tight control of Satan. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation between that pastor and the demon:3

Demon: I hate you. You get to go to heaven. I just hate you people. I believed Satan. He told us that we were gonna be greater. Ohh its so late…
Pastor: What happened when you were cast out of heaven?
Demon: Mmmmm….Jesus…HE just…I don’t know…I don’t know…
Pastor: You want to go back to heaven, don’t you?
Demon: Yes, if only I had a chance…if only I had a chance I’ll go back…
Pastor: God might have mercy on you. If you stop doing the things you are doing and making people sin.
Demon: I can’t do that. I can’t do that. Satan won’t let me. I can’t stop people from doing bad things; that’s what I am supposed to do. He makes me do it.

            From this conversation, an inference that the demons cannot repent since they are under Satan’s control is quite plausible. But to formulate a doctrine from an infallible source cannot be bulletproof, for the conversation between the pastor and the demon may have been fictitious.

            Gotquestions.org states that the direct knowledge of God may be the cause for the inability of the fallen angels to repent (by virtue of being in God’s presence), “Lucifer—and all the angels—were continually in God’s presence and had knowledge of the glory of God. Therefore, they had no excuse for rebelling against God and turning away from Him. They were not tempted. Lucifer and the other angels rebelling against God despite what they knew was the utmost evil.”4

            So the key to the demons’ inability to repent, it seems, is their direct knowledge of God. This is a conjecture, if not explicitly validated by the Bible. If the Bible teaches about man’s inability to repent (a man who was a believer), then as an extension of that teaching, the inability of the demons to repent can be comprehended or justified.

            The Bible teaches that a man who has truly experienced God cannot be brought back to repentance if he/she rejects God, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:4-6, RSV, Emphasis Mine). Such a person, after his rejection of God, still possesses freewill. Although this freewill precludes the ability to repent.

            Since the Bible categorically teaches that a man, who has truly experienced God, cannot repent if he rejects HIM, fallen angels who have rejected God cannot repent, for they rejected HIM while they were in HIS presence.

            The inability of the fallen angels to repent need not necessarily be construed as an unforgivable sin committed by the fallen angels. The doctrine of the unforgivable sin presupposes the ability to repent, for the process of forgiveness cannot be initiated without repentance.

            Therefore, the teaching that repentance is impossible for those who reject God after having truly experienced HIM provides clarity to the inability of the fallen angels to repent even while possessing freewill. (The metaphysics of this freewill that precludes the ability to repent would be an intriguing theme to discuss, but that’s for another day.)

God’s Expectation & Man’s Most Appropriate Response

            What does this theme (the inability of fallen angels to repent) teach us?

            God expects HIS people to love HIM and love HIM more. God has done everything for us to love HIM and not reject HIM. Our love for God would be strengthened if we [strive to] remain in HIS presence always.

            The world and its ruler – Satan, will do everything possible to distract us from loving God. If we consciously or unconsciously allow that distraction to gain strength in our Christian life, then our relationship with God would be on shaky ground.

            Therefore, our most appropriate response is to remain with God; love, obey and trust HIM at all times – be it in moments of joy or pain, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NET).

Endnotes:

1https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-repent.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

2https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-free-will.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

3http://www.deonvsearth.com/i-wish-i-could-go-back-to-heaven-demon-speaks-through-16yr-old-girl-video/, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

4https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-repent.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Modest Is Hottest…Is In The Bible

            The Christian world argues for and against modesty (in Christian women). (Oxford dictionary defines modesty as “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.”1).

            A blog entitled ““Modest is Hottest” is not in the Bible” claims that “The Bible does not breathe a word of such nonsense.”2 The nonsense obviously refers to modesty - the women who do not dress modestly. The blogger’s chief contention is two-fold:

            (1) The Bible does not directly castigate women who do not dress modestly. (In fact, as his title states, modesty as a theme is not mentioned in the Bible.)

            (2) Women are not responsible for men’s choices (If men injure women for their ‘not-so’ modest dressing.).

            Therefore, the blogger implies that women can dress as they want to, “I hope today that you my sisters feel free to dress with both charity and charm, with dignity and dazzle, to adorn yourself in a way that makes you feel beautiful and confident, in a way that allows you to experience solidarity with other women of different bank account and/or breast size, to make your clothing choices based on the values of God’s kingdom (which includes wearing clothing that is ethically manufactured), and to feel free to let men take the responsibility for their own right eyes/hands and figure out how to be respectable men who treat all women, regardless of cleavage or legs for days, with dignity and respect.”3

Modesty Is Not In The Bible

            The premise that “modesty is not in the Bible, so women can dress as they want to” is flawed. Consider the reasoning that invalidates this premise:

            The argument that “something is not present in the Bible, so that something is permissible by God” is a fallacious argument. The logical form of this argument is:

            1. What does the Bible teach about modesty?

            2. The Bible does not mention modesty.

            Therefore

            3. The Bible permits women to choose their attire (without being concerned about modesty).

           This argument is equivalent to the fallacious claims of the detractors of Christianity, “the word Trinity is not present in the Bible, so the God of the Bible is not a Trinity.”

            It is irrelevant whether a particular practice or a particular word is explicitly mentioned in the Bible or not. The Bible offers principles for a godly Christian life (as much as the Bible teaches us that God is a Trinity). These godly principles should be deduced from the various pertinent teachings found in the Bible.

Distorting Biblical Teachings

            While discussing 1 Timothy 2:9, the blogger creates a false dichotomy of sensual modesty and materialistic modesty (modesty includes both), so to disregard the biblical principle behind modest attire, “This passage, which is about proper attitude and decorum in the church, though it may have a vague implicit reference to the sensual kind of modesty, is actually very explicitly referring to a materialistic kind of modesty.”4

            Think about this. Would the Bible mandate Christ’s disciples to live a hypocritical life? No! Never! The Bible teaches that our lives should be consistent i.e. who we are in the church is who we should be outside the church. So if we are to dress modestly in the church, the Bible, by no means, would implicitly or explicitly teach that we are permitted to dress sensually outside the church. This is fundamental to a Christlike lifestyle.

            The blogger seems to forget the fact that our Christian life should be a constant (24/7) worship of God. There should be no fundamental distinction between our life inside and outside the church,

            The argument that a particular teaching is not mentioned in the Bible and hence it is valid is so fragile because, in this time and age, explicit teachings found in the Bible are either religiously rejected or diligently distorted. Atheists reject God’s presence despite the Biblical assertion to God’s presence. Then there are those Christians who endorse homosexuality or gay lifestyle despite the Biblical assertion that homosexuality is a sin against God.

            The innate sinfulness of man is so creatively subtle that an effort to distort the biblical teachings is always within man’s intellectual frontier. Therefore, when man is so creatively agile to reject the explicit teachings found in the Bible, how much more of an effort would it take for him to disregard or distort the presence of an explicit or an implicit teaching in the Bible?

Is Temptation Lost?

            The blogger quotes Matthew 5: 27-32 to solely implicate the lustful man. This is both right and wrong. The blogger says, “Whoa! Not only does Jesus say nothing about female culpability in a man’s fantasies, he absolutely destroys any excuses a man might make about his inability to control his own urges. No, Jesus says, a man’s culpability begins and ends with his own dang eyes and right hand.”5

            While it is true that the sinner is responsible for his/her sins, it is also true that we are not called to lead others to stumble, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Matthew 18: 6-7, NIV).

            Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Thus she sinned against God. So should not God punish only Eve?

            Why did God curse the serpent? The serpent tempted and caused Eve to stumble and sin. Hence sin includes both the sinner and the instigator (tempter).

            Consider this perspective on sin in our context. If a woman wears sensually provocative attire and if that woman in that attire tempts (either actively or passively) another person to sin, then the wrath of God is upon both the tempter and the doer of the sin. This is a non-negotiable tenet in Christianity.

Who Judges Modesty?

            God judges!

            The blogger contends that “No one really knows what “immodest” means….There’s no universal agreed-upon standard for what turns men on. It’s a self-defeating exercise from the outset.”

            With eternity in perspective, we are answerable to God. God in HIS infinite wisdom knows what modesty is and is not. Our knowledge of God through our prayer life and our understanding of God’s Word would lead us to dress appropriately, for our attire should glorify God always.

Why Cover?

            Why do we even cover ourselves? The Bible provides us an answer, “When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3: 6-7, NET).

            When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they realized good, evil and their nakedness. Hence they covered themselves. So covering ourselves is an appropriate response since we, the fallen beings, are in God’s presence.

            But that’s not it. God clothed Adam and Eve, “The Lord God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21, NET). There is a valuable lesson to be learnt from this deed of God.

            If covering ourselves is unnecessary, God would not have made garments for Adam and Eve. The fact that God made garments for the purpose of covering ourselves, teaches us that covering is of utmost importance.

            Consider this from another vantage point. If I have a perfect body, then I would most likely be tempted to wear clothes that would emphasize the perfection. If I have an imperfect body structure, then I would wear clothes that would mask the imperfection.

            Emphasizing the perfection God has blessed us with is in one particular sense to emphasize God’s blessings. But in another sense, our emphasis of God’s perfection endowed upon us could make a person, who does not possess that perfection, feel deprived and sad. So do we still desire to flaunt our perfection? This is up to each person and his/her relationship with God.

Is It Sinful To Wear Provocative Attire?

            Do you think that a woman who does not wear anything provocative, never sins? No! Sin originates from our heart (Matthew 15:19). Everybody is prone to sin, irrespective of our attire.

            The Bible mandates modest attire. Since the Bible is the Word of God, modesty is the way forward for Christians – both men and women included. Any deviation from this instruction is to go against the Word of God. 

Endnotes:

1https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/modest           

2https://medium.com/@joelherbert/modest-is-hottest-is-not-in-the-bible-49b58ed1fdf6

3Ibid.

4Ibid.


5Ibid.