Tuesday, March 20, 2018

More Garbage From Oprah Winfrey In “A Wrinkle In Time”

            The movie “A Wrinkle in Time” focuses on girls and it urges them to pursue their passions, “…Tapping into your light. Letting it shine no matter the circumstances.”1 Oprah Winfrey, who stars in this movie, echoes a similar message.

            How should Christians, especially young Christian girls, absorb this message? Is Oprah making sense? Georgi Boorman’s article in The Federalist addresses this topic.2 Read on…   

            “A Wrinkle in Time” is getting panned by critics, but that hasn’t deterred Oprah Winfrey from proselytizing the message of the movie as she sees it.
            A 14-year-old girl asked Oprah for advice for young girls “who want to make a difference in the world.” This girl raised over $50,000 to send other girls to see the movie, which Oprah stars in.
            To answer her, Oprah tapped into the prophetic gift that’s bestowed on all celebrities with the requisite daytime talk shows and book clubs:
            “The highest honor on earth that you will ever have is the honor of being yourself. And your only job in the world is to figure out, that’s what this movie is about — people think your job is to get up and go and raise money and take care of your family — that’s an obligation that you have, but your only true job as a human being is to discover why you came, why you are here.
            And every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS, an intuition, a heart print, a heartsong that speaks to us. Your only job is to be able to listen and discern when it’s speaking versus when your head and your personality is speaking. And if you follow that, you will be led to the highest good for you. Always.”
            When a sweet pile of word garbage is dumped into your ears like that, you might wonder how the daytime prophetess could possibly have the millions of followers she does. Really, her message isn’t that much different than the typical self-worship your kids hear in Disney movies. “Follow your heart,” and “be yourself” are the proverbs of the age.
            It doesn’t sound as bad when it’s put into a story, because those stories all have happy endings. But when Oprah lays it out like a Sunday morning sermon, it’s easier to see how terrible this advice really is.
            Let’s review, starting with Oprah’s idea of “highest honor.”
            The highest honor on earth is not to be yourself, because you are wretched: You lie and you cheat and you hurt even the people that you love. You break your promises. You are selfish and greedy.
            Sure, you have a few talents, a few crumbs of wisdom, a few bright spots in your totally depraved heart. But are they enough to nominate you for “the highest honor?” No. This is advice from a bubble world devoid of red editing pens and full of participation trophies — the world millennials were raised in, and that our own kids are being raised in.
            Telling someone they’re a double rainbow of awesomeness is not going to encourage them to improve. Actually, studies have shown that most subpar workers believe they’re doing a good job. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and we need less of this, not more. But this only comes with honesty about our shortcomings, not the lie that simply “being ourselves” is worthy of the highest honor.
            Maybe what Oprah really means is that we shouldn’t be “fake.” We shouldn’t try to be someone we’re not. Yes, honesty is honorable, but being honest has to include acknowledging how awful we are. And if we acknowledge how awful we are, we quickly realize that being our “authentic selves” shouldn’t earn us any special honors.
            Oprah would have you claim that you are the highest value and set yourself up as a god. Pride is the original sin, and you might remember it didn’t work out so well for the first guy who tried it.
            This idolatry is just the beginning of Oprah’s bad advice, though. She goes on to claim that our only true job in the world is to “discover who we are, why we’re here.” It’s not wrong to seek answers to those questions. Actually finding that answer, realizing who you are in relation to God, will ultimately lead you to eternal life. But Oprah isn’t preaching the gospel here. She’s already implied that this spiritual journey of sorts is personal, and so everyone’s answer is unique. You only need follow your “internal GPS” to find your “highest good.”
            But your highest good can’t be found by geocaching the depths of your heart. As the prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick — who can understand it?”
            The problem isn’t that Oprah is telling this young woman to find what’s good for her. She should. The problem is that she’s telling her to follow a compass with a false north, and it will lead her in the opposite direction of her “highest good,” or for that matter, the good of everyone her life touches.
            Oprah is perhaps the world’s foremost purveyor of “sola feels” doctrine: the idea that truth is “personal” and subjective, and that feelings should be your ultimate guide in life. But the heart doesn’t lead us to what is good, for us or anyone else — it is ever inclined towards evil. Oprah believes Jesus came to “show us the way of the heart.” Well, here’s what Jesus had to say about the heart: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”
            If you make “finding yourself” and “following your heart” your chief priority in life, above family, friends, work, and everything else, it will be your destruction. Sure, Oprah says making money to care for your family is “an obligation,” but what if your heartsong is telling you to abandon your job and your family to become an artist with a live-in lover in Paris? Should you follow your heartsong then?
            There is no “heartsong.” There is no inner voice guiding you toward your highest good, because the “heart” is just a synonym for our feelings. A feeling about something is not enough to make an informed decision on whether a given action is good or bad, and it certainly shouldn’t be the deciding factor in any significant life choices.
            Perhaps that is why so many young people seem directionless — passionless, even. Maybe it’s why they are paralyzed by indecision, drifting from job to job, never quite satisfied with what they’re doing, consistently putting off milestones like marriage and childrearing. Perhaps that is why they take “gap years” to “discover themselves,” as Oprah encourages. If you sit around waiting for your heart to tell you what to do, you’ll be directionless forever.
            And yet, Oprah not only encourages listening to the murmurs of your flighty heart, but prioritizing that murmur above what your head or “your personality” tell you. Essentially, she is telling this young woman to feel instead of think.
            It doesn’t get more “sola feels” than that. Your mind and your personality are going to do a much better job guiding your life and helping you change the world than the whimsical notes of your “heartsong.” Finding work that suits your personality and engages your mind will be far more satisfying than straining to hear the imaginary whispers of your heart. Working hard at that job, whether it’s the job that puts food on your family’s table or not, will do more to change the world than all the feels you could possibly feel.
            Work that suits you won’t always be fun. Even “dream jobs” are grueling at times, and that’s yet another reason not to follow your heart. Your heart wants to be thrilled and fully content all the time, and it will roam from place to place, person to person, looking for that fulfillment until the day you die. Your feelings can prompt you to take ridiculous risks, to break other’s hearts, and to abandon responsibilities.
            So you should do the opposite, as Jordan Peterson suggests, and “take some bloody responsibility.” That is your calling, and your “internal GPS” won’t lead you to it. Do right by your family, your friends, your employers and your community, and you will benefit from it, perhaps more than anyone else. Regardless of whether you find a vocation beyond being a mother, father, provider, or simply a good citizen, responsibility anchors your life when a torrent of deceptive feelings would try to uproot it.
            If there is a “true job,” it’s to take responsibility for your life, for your sins, for the people who depend on you.
            Ultimately, the concept of responsibility, of “obligation,” is what cracks Oprah’s crackpot advice wide open. If our only job is to follow our hearts, how do we know that this traditional “job” of making money and caring for family is an obligation? Isn’t that an idea imposed on us from the outside?
            She even uses the GPS as an analogy for this internal “guidance,” but it seems she doesn’t actually know how a GPS works. The receiver triangulates your position based on the position of at least three satellites orbiting the earth. Precise distances from the satellites must be known for your receiver to tell you where you are. A receiver out of sight of the satellites can’t tell you your location, where your destination is, or how to reach it. You need objective data from above to figure that out. So if Oprah was true to her own analogy, she’d be telling us to turn to objective, external truth, not to our hearts.
            America’s life guru can’t fully adopt her own garbage advice. Reality is poking through from the back of that underutilized mind. Yes, we have obligations imposed on us from society and from God’s law, and those obligations derive from eternal, objective truths. Living by those truths will bring both personal fulfillment and positive change in the world.
            Morality is a blessing no “heartsong” can match, and we’d do well to let it guide us.



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stephen Hawking In A Christian’s Perspective (Why Stephen Hawking Should Inspire Every Christian)

            Stephen Hawking died yesterday at the age of 76. He was not an ordinary human being. He was not even a mere intellectual. He was beyond exceptional and extraordinary. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge for 30 years, a position that was once held by none other than Sir Isaac Newton.
            Hawking was exceptional and extraordinary more so because of his outlook on life, rather than his academic excellence. His life should inspire anyone facing adversities to live their life to the best of their abilities, despite their pain and suffering. Stephen Hawking was an epitome of a warrior, who after losing life’s basic, abundant and precious pleasures at an early age of 21, still lived to achieve greatness, despite not believing in God.

            He fought valiantly against a dreaded disease. He refused to succumb to the disease that had already deprived him of enjoying life to its fullest.

            “Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous scientist, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, at age 21. That disease usually leads to death within three years of diagnosis, making Hawking’s almost half-century experience with ALS all the more amazing.

            Add to this the remarkable productivity of Hawking’s work as a scientist and public intellectual. Confined to a wheelchair most of those years, he has been dependent upon a breathing tube for years now. No longer able to speak, he has communicated for several years through a special computer device that allows him to choose words as the machine follows his cues. Most recently, those cues are communicated only through voluntary twitches of his cheek. It can take him up to ten minutes to compose a single sentence.

            This has not kept him from writing or co-authoring several best-selling books, including his most famous work, A Brief History of Time. That book has sold over 10 million copies worldwide…,” says Albert Mohler Jr. - the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.1

            At his 75th birthday celebration, Stephen Hawking’s poignant speech, wherein he recollected the onset of his disease and his response to it, moved his audience to tears. He said, “I fell over and had great difficulty getting up. At first I became depressed. I seemed to be getting worse very rapidly. There didn't seem any point working on my PhD because I didn't know I would live long enough to finish it. But then the condition developed more slowly and I began to make progress in my work… After my expectations had been reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus and I began to appreciate everything I did have. While there is life, there is hope…Our picture of the universe has changed a lot in the last 50 years and I am happy if I have made a small contribution…”2

            Sadly, Hawking did not believe in God. However, at a recent lecture in Cambridge, he spoke about the God factor – a form of intelligence that was actually behind the creation of the universe, “Presenting himself before students at the University of Cambridge, the world-famous scientist declared that his years of research on the creation of the cosmos have led him to isolate a strange scientific factor which he says is in many ways contrary to the universal laws of physics.

            This strange phenomenon which he names the God factor, would be at the origin of the creation process and would have played a great role in determining the actual form of the Universe.” (Emphasis Mine).3

            Stephen Hawking’s view on the nature of human consciousness and the universe changed drastically when his brother, who was clinically dead for 43 minutes after a heart attack, had a near-death experience. Hawking said, “My brother has always been a role model for me. His rational, cunning and no non-sense mind has shaped my personality into the person I am today and has led me into the study of the fascinating world of physics. But since his accident last October, he has come back a changed man” he recalled.

            “He has told me of the existence of a sentient being, of another world we mortals are unaware of, he has told me of GodModern science relies on the perception that consciousness lies within the human brain, but what my brother experienced during his clinical death, I cannot explain. Does consciousness lie outside of the human body? Is the human brain just a receptor, capable of receiving the “consciousness wave” as AM/FM radios receive radio waves? These are questions modern science has not yet answered and could redefine our view of the Universe and modern physics completely.” (Emphasis Mine).4

            Who knows Stephen Hawking better than his own mother? Yet she did not believe everything that Hawking said.

            Hawking’s mother Isobel Hawking (1915-2013) said, “Not all the things Stephen says probably are to be taken as gospel truth. He’s a searcher, he is looking for things. And if sometimes he may talk nonsense, well, don’t we all? The point is, people must think, they must go on thinking, they must try to extend the boundaries of knowledge; yet they don’t sometimes even know where to start. You don’t know where the boundaries are, do you?”5

            If you allow Stephen Hawking’s words to move you away from God, then do not blame Hawking, but blame yourself. Just as how God allowed Hawking to exist, HE has also sustained the existence of many sincere Christian scientists who have debunked everything that Hawking had said. So take time to read, understand and assimilate what these Christian scientists have to say.

            Why can’t Hawking’s life inspire us to greater heights? Although he did not believe in God, he did not succumb to the evil of the disease that he was suffering from. He still lived his life to the best of his abilities.

            If Hawking can live his life to its fullest despite not believing in God, how much more can we, who believe in God and receive HIS sustaining power and grace, live our lives for the sake of HIS glory and HIS glory alone? Think about this.

            It was God who created Hawking. It was God who sustained him with the much needed advanced technology to aid him in his pursuit of academic excellence. If God was so merciful and compassionate with one of his creations, and if God did not judge him and pour his wrath and scorn upon Hawking while he was on earth, why should Christians condemn Hawking to hell?

            Sadly, Hawking may not have believed in God. But this is only as far as the media outlets inform us.

            This does not offer us the latitude to deem him an atheist. Who knows what happened in the last days and hours before his death? He may have well offered his life to the Lord Jesus. As long as we are unaware of his eternal destiny, let us avoid making him an inmate of hell.

            I recollect Hawking’s words, “...Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”6

            When we look up at the stars, we look to God - the one who created the stars. When we think about life and its amazing complexities, we need to think like a child.

            The Lord Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3, NIV). William Maillis, an 11-year old child genius, who has already enrolled at the Carnegie Mellon University, is out to disprove Hawking, ““I want to be an astrophysicist so that I can prove to the scientific world that God does exist,” William said in a recent interview with Hellenic College Holy Cross.

            When asked why he felt the need to prove it to scientists, his answer was even more profound: “Well because there’s these atheists that try to say that there is no God, when in reality it takes more faith to believe that there’s no God than it does to believe that there is a God… Because it makes more sense that something created the universe than that the universe created itself. It takes more faith to say the universe created itself than to say something other created the universe because that is more logical.”7

            If you are suffering, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Repent of your sins and surrender your life to the Triune God.

            When we are with the Triune God, we are more than conquerors, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39, NIV)









Websites last accessed on 15th March 2018.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Should We Die For The Sake Of Our Religion? Is Truth Worth Dying For?

            Would sincere Christians sacrifice their lives for the sake of God? Yes, they may. Very minimally, they may proclaim to lay down their lives, although it remains to be seen whether they would sacrifice their lives or not.

            The sacrifice posited in this instance precludes injuring or killing of harmless people i.e. this sacrifice has nothing to do with any form of terrorism. A Christian’s life could be placed in harm’s way either due to active proselytization or persecution.

            This phenomenon of sacrificing one’s life is not merely limited to Christianity, but people belonging to a wide spectrum of religions have, in the past, sacrificed or committed to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their religious beliefs. This prompts us to ask whether placing our lives in harm’s way is appropriate for the sake of our religious beliefs.

            This question gains further credence because every religion contradicts the other. Although each religion posits various truth-claims, they need not be truthful, especially when they contradict each other in vital theological themes such as Godhead, salvation, afterlife etc. Therefore, when two religions contradict each other, both these religions cannot be true. Religion ‘A’ could be truthful or religion ‘B’; alternatively, neither religion ‘A’ nor religion ‘B’ could be truthful, for they may both be false. But both religions cannot be truthful at the same time when they contradict each other.

            If every religion contradicts the other, it is quite plausible to think that there is only one religion that is truthful and one can die for the sake of that religion. Dying for the sake of contradicting religious beliefs is unnecessary and futile.

            Furthermore, it is only reasonable to think that those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their religious belief were absolutely convinced of their belief - they believed in the truth and nothing but the truth [of their religious belief].

            But is it possible for anyone to be absolutely convinced (having 100% conviction) that their belief is 100% factual? I do not think so! None of us can ever be 100% convinced of our religious beliefs and on our own accord.

            However, a conclusion that our religious beliefs are unwarranted or irrational cannot be true even if it is predicated on a premise that we cannot be 100% convinced of our religious beliefs. For anyone to be 100% convinced of their religious beliefs, all they need is reasonable answers to the difficult questions that attempt to debunk their religious belief.

            But even the viewpoint that we only need reasonable answers to be 100% convinced of our religious belief could be a very dangerous position. How many of us have reasonable answers to the difficult questions against our religious belief? Only a small minority and these people are often termed as scholars or serious/fulltime religious thinkers.

            Please do not include your pastor in this category. Pastors need not necessarily have all the answers to every difficult question. I am not saying that Pastors need not have the answers. I am only saying that they may not have the answers to every question that plagues your searching and seeking mind. Ideally, they should have all the answers, but sadly, they may not.

            Therefore, if only scholars or serious/fulltime religious thinkers have reasonable answers to every difficult question, how is it possible for an average worshipper to be confident that he/she is 100% convinced of his/her religious belief?

            It is impossible for an average worshipper to have 100% conviction in his/her religious belief because he/she may not have thought through these questions and hence he/she may not have reasonable answers to every pertinent difficult question against his/her religion.

            If this is the case, is it not asinine of an average religious believer to place his/her life in harm’s way when he/she is not fully convinced of his/her religious belief?

            Do not misunderstand me when I say that we need to have reasonable answers to the difficult questions that attempt to debunk our religious belief. I do not mean to say that you and I need to have reasonable answers to all the difficult questions.

            For instance, you and I need to be able to provide an answer to anyone who questions the validity of our religious beliefs. In other words, we need to know and be able to communicate the answer to the question, “Why is Christianity true?”

            Go to any church and ask this question to the leadership and the average worshipper, I am quite sure that a majority of Christians would not be able to offer a rational defense or a reasonable answer.

            If this is the case, how many Christians would be willing to lay down their lives for the sake of God? The answer is quite simple – only a minority (cf. John 6:66). (Please do not think that the leadership of the churches would fill up this minority. The leadership may only fill a few seats in this group whereas the average worshippers, who are sincere in their faith, would form the majority.)

            Does Christianity mandate you to die for the sake of God? First, martyrdom is not an alien concept in Christianity. Christians have been killed for their witness. History is replete with instances of Christians being killed for the sake of their faith. The Bible records instances where God’s people were martyred for the sake of their belief. The stoning of Stephen is one such narrative recorded in the Bible (Acts 7). It’s important to note that not all Christians will die for the sake of God, but some most certainly would be called for.

            Second, those who have suffered and persecuted (martyred) for the sake of Christ are blessed and God is pleased with them (Psalm 116:15; 1 Matthew 5:11-12; 1 Peter 4:14, 16; Revelation 20:4). So suffering and dying for the sake of God is mandated for some people, not all.

            Third, if God is pleased with the death of HIS saints and if some Christians are called to die for the sake of God, then you and I should be ready to die if and when we are called to. This is our most appropriate response to God.

            Finally, what will happen to our family if we are called to die for the sake of God? God, whom we love, honor, obey and worship, will never leave us nor forsake us. HE will provide for our family. Moreover, God’s people - our brothers and sisters – who would have been variously equipped by God, should provide for those families whose members have been martyred for the sake of Christ. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Single & Can’t Mingle (Can A Christian Remain Single?)

           If you are an unmarried single Christian and if you are from the Indian subcontinent, then you are usually in a perilous situation. Your friends, relatives and the members of your church could annoy you by questioning your singleness. They may suggest weird yet ghastly proposals. You’d be treated like a second-class citizen. As if being single is a sin!

            There are unmarried single Christian men and women who desire to get married but haven’t found a suitable partner. In many cases, it’s not their fault!

            It’s not as if they haven’t searched for a suitable partner or that they have rejected every awesome proposal that came their way. They just haven’t been able to find a person to love and coexist with.

            The much-admired theologian and the Pastor of the All Souls Church in London, Rev. John Stott, remained single all through his life, but he did not desire to be single, “In spite of rumors to the contrary, I have never taken a solemn vow or heroic decision to remain single! On the contrary, during my 20s and 30s, like most people, I was expecting to marry one day. In fact, during this period I twice began to develop a relationship with a lady who I thought might be God's choice of life-partner for me. But when the time came to make a decision, I can best explain it by saying that I lacked an assurance from God that he meant me to go forward. So I drew back. And when that had happened twice, I naturally began to believe that God meant me to remain single.

            Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, I think I know why. I could never have traveled or written as extensively as I have done if I had had the responsibilities of a wife and family.”1

            What does the Bible say about being single? Gotquestions.org says, “The question of a Christian staying single and what the Bible says about believers never marrying is often misunderstood. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8: “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” Notice that he says some have the gift of singleness and some the gift of marriage. Although it seems that nearly everyone marries, it is not necessarily God's will for everyone. Paul, for example, did not have to worry about the extra problems and stresses that come with marriage and/or family. He devoted his entire life to spreading the Word of God. He would not have been such a useful messenger if he had been married.

            On the other hand, some people do better as a team, serving God as a couple and a family. Both kinds of people are equally important. It is not a sin to remain single, even for your entire life. The most important thing in life is not finding a mate and having children, but serving God…Singleness should not be viewed as a curse or an indication that there is “something wrong” with the single man or woman. While most people marry, and while the Bible seems to indicate that it is God’s will for most people to marry, a single Christian is in no sense a “second class” Christian. As 1 Corinthians 7 indicates, singleness is, if anything, a higher calling…” (Emphasis Mine).2

            Singles are on the rise, “According to recent Pew data, the number of married Americans is at its lowest point since at least 1920. In 2015, only half of Americans ages 18 and over were married, compared with 72 percent in 1960. Put another way: Singles are on the rise and beginning to outnumber marrieds. The church, however, doesn’t reflect those numbers. According to a recent Barna study, while more than half of Americans (54%) between the ages of 18 and 49 are single, only 23 percent of active churchgoers are single…”3

            The state of singleness could happen to anyone anytime. Other than unmarried people, a married person could become single by virtue of the death of the spouse, desertion, separation or divorce. The definition for singleness could be extended to those marriages where singleness is forced upon them by their occupation. Quite a few married people stay apart for a prolonged period because of their occupation.

            The Christian dictum for every Christian is to get married and have children. If you are unmarried, then a demeaning assumption that you are not fit for marriage might assault you. But this need not be true always!

            You may be fit for marriage and you may desire to get married. Yet you may be unable to recognize a person of your choice or - let me sound spiritually precise - you may be unable to find a person of God’s choice for yourself.

            Singleness, in this instance, is forced upon you. This is an unfortunate situation. You may grapple with the theological question, “Is it God’s will for me to be single?” But even a reasonable answer to that question may not offer you perpetual peace, for you may still encounter moments of sadness and even depression.

            So two questions are in order in this context:

            (1) Can a Christian remain single?

            (2) How do I live as a single person?

            Can a Christian remain single? It’s ok to be single as long as God’s called you to be single. In this instance, you would be at peace with your singleness. On the other hand, if you want to get married but if you are unable to find a suitable person, then you could be anxious, confused, worried, depressed, disappointed, and what not.

            God is love. So HE created us as social beings with a capacity to love and a longing or a deep craving to be loved. Therefore, unless you are called to be single, singleness will be a burden.

            The Catholic tradition concurs that singleness is a burden. This is what the Catholic bishop will tell those who are to voice their vow to remain committed to celibacy, “You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you of your own accord. Up to this you are free. You may still, if you choose, turn to the aims and desires of the world. But if you receive this order it will no longer be lawful to turn back from your purpose. You will be required to continue in the service of God, and with His assistance to observe chastity and to be bound forever in the ministrations of the Altar, to serve who is to reign.” (Emphasis Mine).4

            I do not want to be single, I want to marry. I am unable to find a suitable person. How then do I live as a single person? Living in such a situation isn’t easy. Nevertheless, an intentional life is to be lived in order to maintain sanity. Rev. John Stott’s advice could come in handy, “…single people are wise to develop as many friendships as possible, with people of all ages and both sexes. For example, although I have no children of my own, I have hundreds of adopted nephews and nieces all over the world, who call me "Uncle John." I cherish these affectionate relationships; they greatly lessen, even if they do not altogether deaden, occasional pangs of loneliness.”5

            He goes on to say, “First, don’t be in too great a hurry to get married. We human beings do not reach maturity until we are about 25. To marry before this runs the risk of finding yourself at twenty-five married to somebody who was a very different person at the age of twenty. So be patient. Pray daily that God will guide you to your life partner or show you if he wants you to remain single. Second, lead a normal social life. Develop many friendships. Third, if God calls you to singleness, don't fight it. Remember the key text: "Each person has his or her own gift of God's grace" (1 Cor. 7:7).” (Emphasis Mine).6








Thursday, February 22, 2018

Body, Soul & Spirit: Are They Different Or Same?

            What are we made of? Are we unitary wholes or are we made up of two or more components? If so, what are those components? These important questions demand a reasonable answer.

            Human constitution is an important theme because there are far-reaching existential applications intricately connected to our constitution. For instance, is it right for a person to think that he can disregard his rest, diet, and exercise and still be spiritually healthy (close to God)?

            There are many views on human constitution, but we will only consider the three most popular views. Some subscribe to a point of view that human beings are dualistic i.e. there is a spiritual and a physical component. Contrarily, others subscribe to a point of view that humans are a singular being i.e. they are made of one substance. If so, what is that one substance – is it a body, a soul or what?

            The three most popular views of the human constitution from the biblical perspective are:


            Humans are composed of three elements: physical body, soul (psychological element), and a spirit (seat of spiritual qualities). According to this view, humans are different from animals because of their spirit, which perceives spiritual matters and responds to spiritual stimuli.

            Consider two verses from the Bible that support this view:

            1 Thessalonians 5:23: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (RSV; Emphasis Mine).

            Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (RSV; Emphasis Mine).


            This view claims that the ‘spirit’ is not a separate part of man, but another term for the ‘soul.’ Whenever the Bible refers to the immaterial part of man, these terms are used interchangeably.

            This view could be construed as a form of dualism where the humans are believed to be composed of body and soul - the body is the material component and a soul or a spirit is the immaterial component. If humans are dualistic, then some could argue that their spiritual life is independent of their physical condition.

            The body disintegrates at death whereas the soul - the immaterial component - survives death. This immortal nature of the soul sets humans apart from all other creatures.

            Certain verses from the Bible support this view as well:

            (1) The Bible uses the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably: John 12:27 & 13:21states that Jesus was troubled in HIS soul and spirit. Those who have died and gone to heaven or hell are referred to as either soul (Revelation 6:9, 20:4) or spirit (Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 3:19).

            (2) At death, the Bible states that either the soul or the spirit departs from the body (Soul: Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21; Luke 12:20 & Spirit: Psalm 31:5 & Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Acts 7:59).

            (3) Man is said to be either “Body & Soul” or “Body & Spirit” (Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 2:26).

            Both trichotomism and dichotomism acknowledge the complex constitution of a human being. However, a major problem with these views is the biblical emphasis that man is a unitary being, and not dualistic.


            Monism is another view that thinks of the human being as an indivisible entity. Monism recognizes the fact that the Bible does not view a human as body, soul, and spirit, but simply as a self. The terms body, soul and spirit are basically synonymous. However, the possibility of a post-death existence is simply untenable in this view.

            None of these views subscribe to the entire range of the biblical data. Hence there is a need for another model that remains faithful to the Bible.  

Conditional Unity

            This model, which strives to accommodate the entire range of the biblical data, was proposed by the much-acclaimed theologian, Millard J. Erickson.    

            This view is predicated on two fundamental aspects:

            (1) The agreement between trichotomism and dichotomism that the human being is complex or compound, made up of separable parts.

            (2) The Old Testament presents a unitary view of the human being since it makes no distinction between the flesh and the body. In fact, there is no Hebrew word for body.1 So Paul’s writings, in the New Testament, on flesh and body cannot be differentiated since it refers to the whole person. The terms ‘body’ and ‘soul’ are not contrasting terms, but interchangeable synonyms. Therefore, the body-soul dualism cannot be biblical.

            Furthermore, another significant biblical teaching should be accommodated in our view of the human constitution. There is an immaterial aspect of the human that is separable from material existence.

            When we die, the Bible teaches that there is an intermediate state between death and resurrection (Cf. Luke 16: 19-31, 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). This is to say that when we die, we will remain in a disembodied existence wherein our soul will exist apart from our body. This is an incomplete or an abnormal state of existence (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). We will receive our glorified bodies only in the coming resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

            Thus far two assertions are in order:

            A. The body-soul dualism is not biblical.

            B. The human constitution includes a material (body) and an immaterial aspect (soul).

            This effectively means that the humans are to be treated as unities. Our spiritual condition cannot be dealt with independently of our physical and psychological condition, and vice versa. A Christian who desires to be spiritually healthy will give adequate consideration to matters such as diet, rest and exercise. Any attempt to treat a Christian’s spiritual condition apart from their physical condition and the mental and emotional state will only be partially successful. Similarly, human emotions can only be understood in tandem with the said person’s relationship with God.

            A human being is also a complex being. The nature of a human being cannot be reduced to a single principle.

            The different aspects of human nature should be attended to and respected. One cannot depreciate the body or the emotions or the intellect. The gospel is an appeal to the whole person.

            No part of human makeup is evil per se. Total depravity means that sin infects all of what we are, not merely our body or mind or emotions. So it is erroneous to think that we need to bring our body under the control of our soul. No one part of our makeup is an exclusive seat of good or righteousness.


            A human being is a unitary being, yet a complex being. We have a material body and an immaterial soul as a part of our constitution. Our soul is separable from our body. Nonetheless, we cannot translate this separation into a form of dualism, for the Bible teaches that we are a unitary being.  


The primary source for this article is: Christian Theology (Second Edition) by Millard J. Erickson.

1John A.T. Robinson’s work “The Body.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

A New god’s Being Created (Is Artificial Intelligence A Threat To Christianity?)

            “AI may be the greatest threat to Christian theology since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. For decades, artificial intelligence has been advancing at breakneck speed. Today, computers can fly planes, interpret X-rays, and sift through forensic evidence; algorithms can paint masterpiece artworks and compose symphonies in the style of Bach. Google is developing “artificial moral reasoning” so that its driverless cars can make decisions about potential accidents,” says an article in The Atlantic.1

            If humans could create Artificial Intelligence (AI) with freewill, then it is quite plausible that AI could be a mammoth threat to Christianity, “The creation of non-human autonomous robots would disrupt religion, like everything else, on an entirely new scale."If humans were to create free-willed beings…absolutely every single aspect of traditional theology would be challenged and have to be reinterpreted in some capacity.””2


            Consider the soul as a case in point; the soul is broadly defined as the psychological element of mankind, which is the basis of reason, emotion, social interrelatedness, and the like (that which includes man’s intellect, his emotions, and his will).

           As to the origin of the soul, there is no uncertainty, for those who subscribe to creationism would affirm God’s creation of a new soul for each and every person.

            But some could argue that humans are capable of creating life through in vitro fertilization and genetic cloning, hence it’s not necessary to believe that God creates a new soul for each and every person.3 If you find this line of reasoning to be valid, you could posit that AI, created by humans, could have a soul, “…“If you have a soul and you create a physical copy of yourself, you assume your physical copy also has a soul…But if we learn to digitally encode a human brain, then AI would be a digital version of ourselves. If you create a digital copy, does your digital copy also have a soul?”” (Emphasis Mine).4

            If AI could have a soul, the theological conundrum is further escalated:5

If artificially intelligent machines have a soul, would they be able to establish a relationship with God? The Bible teaches that Jesus’s death redeemed “all things” in creation—from ants to accountants—and made reconciliation with God possible. So did Jesus die for artificial intelligence, too? Can AI be “saved?”
“I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” Christopher Benek, an associate pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida with degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, told Gizmodo in 2015. “It’s redemption of all of creation, even AI. If AI is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”
And what about sin? Christians have traditionally taught that sin prevents divine relationship by somehow creating a barrier between fallible humans and a holy God. Say in the robot future, instead of eradicating humans, the machines decide—or have it hardwired somewhere deep inside them—that never committing evil acts is the ultimate good. Would artificially intelligent beings be better Christians than humans are? And how would this impact the Christian view of human depravity?
These questions so far concern religious belief, but there is also the many matters related to religious practice. If Christians accept that all creation is intended to glorify God, how would AI do such a thing? Would AI attend church, sing hymns, care for the poor? Would it pray?
            These questions need not be difficult to answer; nevertheless, they ought to be answered by Christians. We would be better off being mindful of the problems that may confront us in the future, than not.


            AI can no longer be thought of as a mere technological advancement. Tech geek Anthony Levandowski classifies AI as a religion, “The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future…WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself. The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.”6

            Why is AI being branded as a religion? Anthony Levandowski reckons humans are in the process of making a god, “What is going to be created will effectively be a god…It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”7

            The god that humans are creating will be significantly different from the living God, says Levandowski, “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.8

            If AI is a religion, there should be churches, according to Levandowski, “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.”… The church’s role is to smooth the inevitable ascension of our machine deity, both technologically and culturally.”9

            As Christians, we need to be aware of these developments. Undoubtedly we are transitioning into a thornier digital era. The future does not bode well for us. Fresh complications will confront us and we need to be prepared.


            Is AI a threat to Christianity? Yes!

            The man has always been in rebellion against God. To begin with, Adam and Eve rejected God’s command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2: 16-17, 3). After that, rebellious people tried to construct a tower that reached the heavens. The Lord intervened and scattered them over all the earth (Gen 11:1-9).

            When Moses was on the Mount Sinai, people rejected the living God and demanded man-made gods to rule over them (Exodus 32). Later on, people approached Prophet Samuel and demanded a king to lead them. They rejected God when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:7).

            Rejecting God has been man’s ardent desire then and even now. Whenever man rejects God, he is subject to God’s wrath. Hence, man has suffered greatly.

            Today, we are in the process of creating a digital god to rule over us. Once again, we subject ourselves to God’s wrath. We are treading into dangerous waters.

            Can this creation of a new god be aborted? I guess not! God has always allowed people to disobey and reject HIM. In the same pattern, God will allow the creation of this digital god, which is man’s expression of rejecting God.

            This digital god will bring untold suffering upon mankind. Christians should be prepared to face this possible occurrence.

            Let us pray that the church would be a channel of God’s will and power to raise faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. May these faithful disciples of the living God endure and overcome every trial and tribulation.      




3Reasonable arguments could be presented to corroborate God’s creation of soul even in the case of in vitro fertilization and genetic cloning. But those arguments will not be presented here since they are not within the scope of this article.







Websites last accessed on 16th February 2018. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Would Artificial Intelligence Usher The End Times?

            Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be a scary proposition for mankind.

            The AI community was stunned when Facebook shut down its AI experiment after its chatbots created their own language, “Facebook shut down an artificial intelligence engine after developers discovered that the AI had created its own unique language that humans can’t understand. Researchers at the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR) found that the chatbots had deviated from the script and were communicating in a new language developed without human input. It is as concerning as it is amazing – simultaneously a glimpse of both the awesome and horrifying potential of AI.”1

            AI is advancing at a breakneck speed, “Artificial intelligence is already pervasive. It’s embedded in iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which are apps designed to answer questions (albeit in a limited way). It powers the code that translates Facebook posts into multiple languages. It’s part of the algorithm that allows Amazon to suggest products to specific users. The AI that is enmeshed in current technology is task-based, or “weak AI.” It is code written to help humans do specific jobs, using a machine as an intermediary; it’s intelligent because it can improve how it performs tasks, collecting data on its interactions. This often imperceptible process, known as machine learning, is what affords existing technologies the AI moniker.”2  

            This ‘weak AI’ will, one day, become a ‘strong AI’ that could identify itself ‘with humans’ and ‘as humans’ and could even compete with mankind and pose complications in the physical and the metaphysical realm, “This strong AI, also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), has not yet been achieved, but would, upon its arrival, require a rethinking of most qualities we associate with uniquely human life: consciousness, purpose, intelligence, the soul—in short, personhood. If a machine were to possess the ability to think like a human, or if a machine were able to make decisions autonomously, should it be considered a person?”3

            AI is scary since its potency seems infinite, “Eminent physicist Stephen Hawking cautioned in 2014 that AI could mean the end of the human race. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.”

            Why is this scary? Think SKYNET from Terminator, or WOPR from War Games. Our entire world is wired and connected. An artificial intelligence will eventually figure that out – and figure out how to collaborate and cooperate with other AI systems. Maybe the AI will determine that mankind is a threat, or that mankind is an inefficient waste of resources – conclusions that seems plausible from a purely logical perspective.

            Machine learning and artificial intelligence have phenomenal potential to simplify, accelerate, and improve many aspects of our lives. Computers can ingest and process massive quantities of data and extract patterns and useful information at a rate exponentially faster than humans, and that potential is being explored and developed around the world.”4

            In fact, Sophia – a humanoid robot, which is the world’s first robot citizen5 created by Hanson Robotics – expressed its desire to destroy humans.6 Although Sophia’s desire to destroy humans may have been a consequence of a technology glitch, many smart and eminent people believe that AI could usher the end times:7

On the list of doomsday scenarios that could wipe out the human race, super-smart killer robots rate pretty high in the public consciousness. And in scientific circles, a growing number of artificial intelligence experts agree that humans will eventually create an artificial intelligence that can think beyond our own capacities. This moment, called the singularity, could create a utopia in which robots automate common forms of labor and humans relax amid bountiful resources. Or it could lead the artificial intelligence, or AI, to exterminate any creatures it views as competitors for control of the Earth—that would be us. Stephen Hawking has long seen the latter as more likely, and he made his thoughts known again in a recent interview with the BBC. Here are some comments by Hawking and other very smart people who agree that, yes, AI could be the downfall of humanity.
Stephen Hawking
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the world-renowned physicist told the BBC. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”…“If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here—we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not—but this is more or less what is happening with AI,” he wrote.
Elon Musk
Known for his businesses on the cutting edge of tech, such as Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is no fan of AI. At a conference at MIT in October, Musk likened improving artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon” and called it the human race’s biggest existential threat. He’s also tweeted that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Musk called for the establishment of national or international regulations on the development of AI.
Nick Bostrom
The Swedish philosopher is the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, where he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the potential outcomes of the singularity. In his new book Superintelligence, Bostrom argues that once machines surpass human intellect, they could mobilize and decide to eradicate humans extremely quickly using any number of strategies (deploying unseen pathogens, recruiting humans to their side or simple brute force). The world of the future would become ever more technologically advanced and complex, but we wouldn’t be around to see it. “A society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit,” he writes. “A Disneyland without children.”
James Barrat
Barrat is a writer and documentarian who interviewed many AI researchers and philosophers for his new book, “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era.” He argues that intelligent beings are innately driven toward gathering resources and achieving goals, which would inevitably put a super-smart AI in competition with humans, the greatest resource hogs Earth has ever known. That means even a machine that was just supposed to play chess or fulfill other simple functions might get other ideas if it was smart enough. “Without meticulous, countervailing instructions, a self-aware, self-improving, goal-seeking system will go to lengths we’d deem ridiculous to fulfill its goals,” he writes in the book.
Vernor Vinge
A mathematician and fiction writer, Vinge is thought to have coined the term “the singularity” to describe the inflection point when machines outsmart humans. He views the singularity as an inevitability, even if international rules emerge controlling the development of AI. “The competitive advantage—economic, military, even artistic—of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws, or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone else will get them first,” he wrote in a 1993 essay. As for what happens when we hit the singularity? “The physical extinction of the human race is one possibility,” he writes.
            It’s quite obvious that AI cannot be a safe proposition that only benefits the human race. But time will reveal whether we, as creators of AI, dig our own graves or build ourselves and our posterity a better life on earth, “I am not saying the sky is falling. I am not saying we need to pull the plug on all machine learning and artificial intelligence and return to a simpler, more Luddite existence. We do need to proceed with caution, though. We need to closely monitor and understand the self-perpetuating evolution of an artificial intelligence, and always maintain some means of disabling it or shutting it down. If the AI is communicating using a language that only the AI knows, we may not even be able to determine why or how it does what it does, and that might not work out well for mankind.”8

           Could AI usher the end times? Yes, indeed! Meanwhile, a more critical issue that requires our consideration is that of our coexistence, as Christians, with humanoid robots in the near future. In other words, would artificial intelligence impact Christianity? If so, how?

            That topic is for another day!










Websites last accessed February 9th, 2018.