‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Israel Folau.jpg

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The debate over Israel Folau’s statement about sinners, including homosexuals, has led to a prostitution of the English language. I use prostitution in the sense of ‘the act or process of misusing and wasting’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2019. s.v. prostitution).

Read the words of …

1. Rugby League & Union officials who violate the meaning of inclusive

Peter Beattie, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) told Fox Sports (5 June 2019):

“Our position on Israel Folau remains the same,” Beattie told AAP.

“We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.

“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him”.

Two days after he was announced as the new ARLC chairman, Mr Peter V’landys AM, violated the meaning of inclusiveness with this statement:

The inclusivity of rugby league changed his life as an immigrant child and he has zero tolerance for Folau’s anti-gay messaging.

Former chairman Peter Beattie had previously shut down an attempt by the sacked rugby union star to resume his NRL career, and V’landys has supported the move.

“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said (news.com.au, 1 November 2019).

V’landys was adamant: ‘I think we need to be more inclusive and I think the greatest asset our game has is it is very inclusive’.

Beattie and V’landys repeated the assessment of Rachel Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, ‘”Inclusion means inclusion for everybody, and we’ve got portions of our community who were very hurt and upset by Israel’s comments, hence why we are in this situation’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2019).

‘Inclusion means inclusion for everybody’. Really? That’s with the exception of being a Christian sportsman who posts on external social media with a warning from the Christian Scriptures:

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(Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau), courtesy abc.net.au, 11 May 2019)

Here are three sports’ leaders trumpeting inclusiveness but who have adopted a view of adding an exclusion to the meaning of inclusion. How do we know?

2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’

The Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) defines the adjective ‘inclusive’ as: ‘If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person’.

Lexico.com (Oxford dictionary) (2019. s.v. inclusive) provides the meaning as: ‘Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something’.

The MacMillan Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) describes inclusive as ‘deliberately aiming to involve all types of people’.

Therefore, to have an inclusive policy for Rugby League and Rugby Union teams means ‘all kinds of people’ should belong to them and not ‘just one kind of person’. It involves all types of people, including the secular, various religions (including Christianity), and those with no religion.

To require that a certain religion not express itself in activities outside of the sporting club – especially external to practice and playing games – is to violate the definition of ‘inclusive’. It is another issue if this anti-religious activity is written into the sports’ person’s contract.

Making an exclusion as part of the understanding of inclusion seems to be part of the definition for Peter Beattie, Peter V’landys and Rachel Castle.

3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity

If ‘inclusion’ is ‘for everybody’, why is it not for Folau’s Christianity? Castle, Beattie and V’landys have thus caused ‘inclusion’ to incorporate an exclusion. If Castle agreed with the Collins Dictionary, she would not be in the challenge of the Folau contract. That’s because Christianity must be a part of an inclusive rugby union code.

Grand Slam tennis champion of 1970, Margaret Smith (Court), is another example. For the male champion, Rod Laver, for the Australian Open tennis grand slam he was flown from the USA, where he now lives, to celebrate his 50th anniversary since his grand slam win.

What has happened to Margaret Court? She is a Pentecostal preacher in Perth who has made clear statements about God’s view of heterosexuality and opposition to homosexuality. The Newcastle Herald reported Court’s statements:

“I just said what the Bible said and I think a lot of people didn’t like it,” Court said.

“Really that’s all I was saying and you got blasted because of it and bullied because of it.

“In my heart, I have nothing against the person, we have them in our own church, but that’s how I think it was portrayed.

“I think I had broad shoulders in tennis and you can carry it through.

“I’d still say the same thing again today.

We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“I think we really need to protect freedom of speech because that’s the start of something.

“We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“It wasn’t that I was saying what I thought, I was saying it from what God thought in the Scriptures.”

Court admitted she stands up and speaks her mind for the next generation.

“I think a lot of people did (get upset) because I think they lead that lifestyle and that’s their choice,” she said (Greenway 2019).

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(photo, Margaret Court, courtesy Victory Life International, Perth, WA)

Tennis Australia’s (TA) response was swift. It “respects Margaret’s unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open, particularly in this milestone anniversary year,” the TA statement read.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.

“In 2017 the Australian Open launched #Open4All, a major diversity and inclusion initiative, designed to showcase the many inclusive opportunities in tennis” (Matthey 2019).

This is a farcical statement. It states ‘we will continue to actively promote inclusion’, but what does it do with Margaret Court? It practises exclusion because TA does not support Margaret Court’s freedom to practise her Christian beliefs. When ‘inclusion’ incorporates ‘exclusion’ words have lost their meaning. See my article: Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language.

Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’. I consider that TA’s support for inclusion while practising exclusion to be in the category of ‘sincere ignorance’. I wait for the day when TA wakes up to Margaret Court’s view of homosexuals:

“I love them, I have them in the church here [Victory Life Centre, Perth]. ” she said (Christmass 2019)

4. Conclusion

With the NRL, ARU, and TA, it seems to me that we have leaders of the organisations that have written a new, idiosyncratic definition of ‘inclusion’ to exclude those whose beliefs (expressed externally) are those with which they disagree.

I’m of the view, based on the definition of ‘inclusive’, that the NRL, ARU and TA should have this policy with regard to all players: ‘We welcome players of all religious and non-religious perspectives. What you do off the field is your business, even if it is in public. You will never be excluded from our sports because of your religion’.

The prostitution of the English language by these sporting leaders has required that inclusive incorporate an exclusion – the message of Christianity.

They exclude those whose world views differ from theirs. It’s time for them to get back to the common explanation of ‘inclusive’ that excludes nobody.

5. Works consulted

Christmass, P 2019. Margaret Court defends views on gay marriage amid renewed Tennis Australia drama. 7News (online), 7 November. Available at: https://7news.com.au/sport/tennis/i-have-nothing-against-homosexuals-margaret-court-defends-views-on-gay-marriage-c-545514 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Greenway, B 2019. Aussie tennis legend Margaret Court stands her ground on same-sex marriage. Newcastle Herald, 2 January. Available at: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/5834029/margaret-court-stands-her-ground-id-say-it-again/?cs=7597 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Matthey, J 2019. Tennis Australia invites Margaret Court to Melbourne Park but distances itself from her views. News.com.au (online), 2 December. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-australia-invites-margaret-court-to-melbourne-park-but-distances-itself-from-her-views/news-story/a1e119362cbecee6edc7f8eaa4c21585 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.

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Image result for clipart word Inclusion

God, the Bible and Prime Minister Scott Morrison

The Honourable Scott Morrison MP

Scott Morrison 2014.jpg

30th Prime Minister of Australia

Incumbent

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and his family attend Horizon Church, Sutherland Shire, NSW, Australia. This is a Pentecostal congregation associated with the Australian Christian Churches, affiliated with the Assemblies of God worldwide.[1]

He allowed the mass media into the worship service to see him in worship.

clip_image002(Photo: Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny sing during an Easter Sunday service at his Horizon Church at Sutherland in Sydney, Sunday, April 21, 2019. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas. Courtesy Eternity News, 23 April 2019).[2]

Morrison is Australia’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister.

This article will examine how Morrison’s theology integrates with his politics.

1. Biblical views before he became Prime Minister

When he was treasurer in 2016, he did not support change from traditional to include same-sex marriage (Dziedzic & Norman 2016).

2. What about abortion?

clip_image004(Advocates hold placards during a rally outside the New South Wales Parliament. Source AAP, photo courtesy SBS News)[3]

Even though these comments are by ScoMo as PM, they are in the context of the debate to decriminalise abortion in 2019 in the State of NSW. Channel 7 News reported:

Mr Morrison, who is a Pentecostal Christian, said it was a matter of conscience for state MPs ahead of a delayed vote in the upper house next month.

“It’s not a matter before the commonwealth parliament nor is it one I’m seeking to have brought before the commonwealth parliament,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald….

“I have what I would describe as conservative views on this issue as people know I have on other issues. That’s really all I think I need to say”.[4]

3. Morrison’s view when it becomes law

Now that homosexual marriage has been legalised in Australia, what is Morrison’s view? Notice how he dodges the journalist’s questions:

Scott Morrison says he supports the law of the country but wouldn’t say if his personal opposition to same-sex marriage has changed since it was legalised….

Mr Morrison abstained from voting for marriage equality when it passed the House of Representatives in 2018, and he voted “no” in the national survey.

When asked if he is still personally opposed to same-sex marriage, the prime minister replied: “It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about.”

When pressed on whether his opinions have changed, he told reporters in Perth: “I always support the law of the country” (SBS News 2019).[5]

So, he supports Australian law but won’t own up to his current personal beliefs about homosexuality. I wonder, as a Pentecostal Christian, whether he accepts the Bible’s view on the topic. See Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

God’s view is different from Morrison’s. Those who practise homosexuality (male & female) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Whether ScoMo is a PM or an ordinary Christian, he should support the Bible’s view.

4. His views about God

Leigh Sales of ABC’s 7.30 grilled him on his view of God:

“I’m not running for Pope,” Mr Morrison shot back. “I’m running for Prime Minister.

“And the theological questions are not ones that are actually, I think, germane to the political debate in this country.”

“My faith teaches me to love others and God loves everybody and we should be agents for his love in this world which is what I’ve always believed.

“And that’s what my church community does and every church community I’ve been part of, including my parents who served in their local youth organisations for 45 years, every Thursday and Friday school night, my parents were there, running boys and girls brigade for young people in our community.

“They taught me a life of faith and service and that’s what my faith means to me. It means service and caring for others” (news.com.au 2019).[6]

He avoided a splendid opportunity given by Leigh Sales for him to nail his colours to the mast and declare his worship of the Trinitarian Lord God Almighty, no matter the political consequences.

OUTinPerth, an LGBTIQ+ news source, made this observation of ScoMo’s views on homosexuality when a journalist interviewed him in Perth:

Scott Morrison said he was now supportive of same-sex couples being allowed to marry because it had allowed people to “get on with their lives” and because he “always supports the law of the country.”

The PM would not be drawn on whether or not he believed gay people would be sent to hell, an apparent reference to the Israel Folau controversy, saying he keeps his personal religious views private….

The majority of voters in Morrison’s NSW seat of Cook voted in favour of marriage equality, but Scott Morrison abstained from voting when the legislation was before parliament.[7]

5. Religion does not mix with politics

Morrison told a journalist, ‘he doesn’t “mix [his] religion with politics”’ (Karp 2019).

Regarding homosexuals and hell, this was his view:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been forced to clarify that he does not believe gay people go to Hell after he earlier did not answer a question about his religious beliefs on gay people.

“No, I do not believe that. It was a desperate, cheap shot from Bill Shorten who is looking to distract attention from his housing tax that will undermine the value of people’s homes,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Tuesday (SBS News 2019).[8]

However, only a year ago Morrison took a different line in supporting stance on sinners (including homosexuals) going to hell: ‘I think he’s shown a lot of strength of character in just standing up for what he believes in and I think that’s what this country is all about’ (AAP 2018).[9]

Now he denies the Bible’s teaching of what will happen to wrongdoers, including those who commit homosexual acts. Scripture teaches: ‘Those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God’ (1 Cor 6:9). If they don’t go into God’s kingdom at death, where do they go?

We know this from the Scriptures of the New Testament that after death, unbelievers are:

  • Conscious and in torment (Luke 16:23);
  • ‘Under punishment until the day of judgment’ (2 Peter 2:9);
  • Matt. 25:41, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”.
  • Mark 9:43-44, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell [gehenna], to the unquenchable fire”.
  • Rev. 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”.

I urge Morrison to tell the truth about what happens at death for sinful homosexuals who have not repented. See my article: Where will unbelievers go at death?

6. Morrison and the Bible

When compares Morrison’s views on morality and a Christian world view, how does his philosophy match up with biblical teaching? From what I’ve written above, alarm bells should be ringing.

Morrison declares his faith in Jesus Christ, invited the TV cameras into his church to see him in worship, but when push comes to shove – in my view – he has failed the test of a Christian worldview that is consistent with Scripture on issues of morality.

Judith Brett (2019) wrote in The Monthly:

Could it be that the heart of Morrison’s Christian faith is not dogma but the desire to be part of a community and the chance for an enthusiastic sing-along? Perhaps, too, he values its detachment from politics. Morrison talks a lot about the “Canberra bubble”. We all need places to go to re-centre ourselves, perhaps politicians more than most.

That could be it for Morrison. He’s happy to be in the sing-along, Pentecostal happy-clapper believers whose faith is not too embedded in Christian doctrine.

From the evidence before us so far in Morrison’s Prime Ministership, he seems to be more interested in appeasing the journalists and not being overt in the content of his Christian faith.

7. Works consulted

Brett, J 2019. Howard’s Heir: On Scott Morrison and his suburban aspirations. The Monthly (online), September. Available at: https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/september/1567260000/judith-brett/howard-s-heir-scott-morrison-and-his-suburban (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Dziedzic, S & Norman, J 2016. Election 2016: Scott Morrison weighs in on gay marriage after Penny Wong comments. ABC News Brisbane, Qld, 22 June. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-22/election-scott-morrison-responds-to-penny-wong-same-sex-marriage/7532372 (Accessed 2 October 2019).

Karp, P 2019. Scott Morrison claims he now backs same-sex marriage – but dodges question on hell. The Guardian Australia (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/13/scott-morrison-claims-he-now-backs-same-sex-marriage-but-dodges-question-on-hell (Accessed 2 October 2019).

Payne, K 2019. Inviting the cameras into church. Eternity News (online), 23 April. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/inviting-the-cameras-into-church/ (Accessed 2 October 2019).

8. Notes


[1] Wikipedia 2019. Horizon Church (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizon_Church (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[2] Payne (2019).

[3] SBS News 2019. Scott Morrison a ‘conservative’ on abortion (online), 28 August. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/scott-morrison-a-conservative-on-abortion (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[4] Ibid.

[5] AAP 2019. Gay marriage is the law: PM Morrison (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/gay-marriage-is-the-law-pm-morrison (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[6] Leigh Sales grills Scott Morrison over his faith and plebiscite views in final interview before election (online), 16 May. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/national/federal-election/leigh-sales-grills-scott-morrison-over-his-faith-and-plebiscite-views-in-final-interview-before-election/news-story/0ffb8040eaee81c2b8094e61656cb3db (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[7] PM Scott Morrison says he now backs same-sex marriage (online), 14 May. Available at: https://www.outinperth.com/pm-scott-morrison-says-he-now-backs-same-sex-marriage/ (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[8] ‘No, I do not believe that’: PM clarifies that he does not think gay people go to hell (online), 14 May. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/no-i-do-not-believe-that-pm-clarifies-that-he-does-not-think-gay-people-go-to-hell (Accessed 2 October 2019).

[9] AAP 2018. Scott Morrison praises Israel Folau’s ‘strong character’ after anti-gay remarks. The Guardian Australia, 12 April. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/18/scott-morrison-praises-israel-folaus-strong-character-after-anti-gay-remarks (Accessed 2 October 2019).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.

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The Hindu worldview clashes with reality

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Hindu Murti idol: Sri Parvati Devi (image courtesy Wikipedia)[1]

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. Introduction

When I personally visited India in 1964 I was shocked by the widespread poverty:

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(India: image courtesy qrius.com)[2]

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(India: image courtesy pixabay)[3]

The Brookings’ Institute concluded in 2019:

According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot (Kharas et al 2018).

1.1 Underlying causes of India’s poverty

K B Napier’s assessment was

just 5% of the castes are of this highest group, the Brahmins. The remaining 95%, the ‘untouchables’ or Dalit, are the lowest of the low… they are considered to be unclean or worthless. The others in this evil system of the lowest caste, are the OBC’s (Other Backward Castes). Though slightly higher than the Dalits, they are still separate from the Brahmins, and are just as poor as the Dalits.

Hinduism strictly keeps this cruelty going and so 95% of the population are poor because of this godless religion. And even when Brahmins emigrate to the West their mind-set is the same.

Even if they receive extra food, clothes and even a basic education, they will never be accepted by the foul Brahmins, who see them as no more valuable than dirt (Napier 2014).

A pilot study conducted by Melinda Johnson (2015) of the University of North Georgia in Goa, India, explored ‘the relationship between religious beliefs and causal attributions of poverty’ in Hinduism and Islam. She tested the hypothesis:

Based on these different religious beliefs regarding poverty, it is my hypothesis that the perceptions of poverty and of the poor will be vastly different in individuals from different religious backgrounds. I believe that individuals of Hindu backgrounds will have more internal causal attributions and descriptors of guilt or shame associated with poverty whereas those from Islamic backgrounds will have more external causal attributions and less negative views associated with poverty (Johnson 2015:4).

Her summary conclusion was that substantial differences between Muslim and Hindu views of the hypothesis were confirmed. The Hindu community reported an internal-individualistic cause, which probable relates to the version given in the Hindu Scriptures.

By contrast the Muslim community reported an external-structuralistic[4] cause for poverty. Therefore, the Hindu view sees the wealthy in a positive way, compared with the negative for the poor. By contrast, the Muslim community identified the wealthy with a person’s access to education, opportunities afforded them within society, and status (Johnson 2015:10)

Johnson found in Goa, India that the cause of poverty described by the Hindus related to internal views, i.e. to the teaching of the Hindu Scriptures. By contrast, the Muslims blamed human factors in the culture.

1.2 Hindu idolatry

Idolatry is a core Hindu practice. Leading Hindu Yogi and mystic, Sadhguru, wrote:

You can worship a man-god and be a Hindu. You can worship a woman-god and be a Hindu. You can worship a cow and be a Hindu. You can worship a tree and be a Hindu. Or you don’t worship anything and you can be a Hindu.[5]

Thus, idol worship is central to Hindu devotion. Why worship someone of something that isn’t God? ‘In the Hindu way of life, the only important thing in human life is his liberation. Mukti is the only goal’.[6] What is ‘Mukti’? It is spiritual enlightenment that comes through Hindu reincarnation and rebirth. Mukti may be achieved by yoga.[7]

2. All religions are exclusivistic.

You might find that to be an extreme statement. Exclusivism is ‘The action or policy of excluding a person or group from a place, group, or privilege’ (lexico.com 2020. s.v. exclusivism).

We know that Christianity is exclusivistic. Jesus said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6 NIV).

By the statement that all religions are exclusivistic, I mean that all religions have essential, exclusive values for that religion and to deny them would deny the core of the religion.

Let’s seek a few examples outside of Christianity:

clip_image008Could you imagine the atheistic system without the belief that there is no God? Atheism is exclusivistic. See my article: Does atheism have a creed or a system of beliefs?

clip_image008[1]The core teachings of Buddhism are:

• The Three Universal Truths;

• The Four Noble Truths; and

•The Noble Eightfold Path.[8]

clip_image008[3]The five pillars of Islam are its core values and practices:

  •  Profession of Faith (shahada). The belief that “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” is central to Islam.
  •  Prayer (salat). Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and after dark.
  •  Alms (zakat). In accordance with Islamic law, Muslims donate a fixed portion of their income to community members in need.
  •  Fasting (sawm). During the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy adult Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink.
  •  Pilgrimage (hajj). Every Muslim whose health and finances permit it must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia.[9]

I encourage you to listen to the 1-minute podcast by Ravi Zacharias: All Religions Are Exclusivistic.

2. What are the core Hindu beliefs?

Dr Amrutur V. Srinivasan, founder of the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society, USA stated that Hinduism is not an organised religion with a systematic approach to teaching its value system. Instead, there are ‘local, regional, caste, and community-driven practices [that] influence the interpretation and practice of beliefs throughout the Hindu world’ (Srinivasan n.d.).[10]

He teaches these as the common beliefs among Hindus:

2.1 Truth is eternal.

‘Hindus pursue knowledge and understanding of the Truth: the very essence of the universe and the only Reality. According to the Vedas, Truth is One, but the wise express it in a variety of ways’.[11]

Concerning truth, the Bhagavadgita states:

‘The non-existent has no existence; the existent does not not-exist. (Thus) the seers who have seen the essence of That reached the conclusion about the two’ (The Bhagavadgita 2:16).

‘It is neither born nor dies. At no time it did not non-exist in the past; will not non-exist in future; or will not become existence again. Unborn, eternal, permanent, and the most ancient, this is not killed when the body is killed’ (The Bhagavadgita 2:20).

Jayaram V, a Hindu, maintains

our world, our lives and our very existence do not qualify as truth. There is nothing here or on other planets or the entire universe, which fits perfectly in the concept of truth as envisaged in Hindu scriptures…. Our minds cannot grasp absolute truths because they are not conditioned or created to grasp them’ so the Hindu Scriptures do not promote (Jayaram V 2000-2019).

2.2 Brahman is Truth and Reality.

‘Hindus believe in Brahman as the one true God who is formless, limitless, all-inclusive, and eternal. Brahman is not an abstract concept; it is a real entity that encompasses everything (seen and unseen) in the universe’.[12]

Notice Srinivasan does not refer to Brahman, the Hindu one true God, by a personal pronoun but by the neuter, ‘it’. So, everything is in God, Brahman.

2.3 The Vedas are the ultimate authority.

‘The Vedas are Hindu scriptures that contain revelations received by ancient saints and sages. Hindus believe that the Vedas are without beginning and without end; when everything else in the universe is destroyed (at the end of a cycle of time), the Vedas remain’.[13]

The Vedas (pron. Vay-dez) are available online at: Hinduism – Sacred-Texts

Michael Gleghorn of Probe Ministries (2010) summarised the ‘ultimate authority’ difference between Hinduism and Christianity:

The Bible is a book of history and there is a huge wealth of evidence from archaeology and extra-biblical historical sources to commend it to us as such. What’s more, it claims to be a revelation from the one true God, who created all things. This claim is either true or false. While I believe that there are good reasons for embracing the claim as true, I cannot prove this with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, we must do our best to examine the various claims of the different religions, compare these claims with all the evidence we can find, and attempt to decide which (if any) are actually true.

But here’s my point. Suppose that Hinduism is true. What follows from that for me as a Christian? If the material world is ultimately maya, and its reason for being is simply lila, and if all is one, and Atman is Brahman, then (sooner or later) I will realize this and get off the wheel of rebirth. It may take many lifetimes, but I will eventually realize that all is one, that I am Brahman. Nothing (of eternal consequence) follows from my temporary ignorance.

But now suppose Christianity is true. What follows for those who do not come to Jesus alone for salvation from the holy wrath of God against our sin? Eternal punishment away from the presence of God, the only true and ultimate Source of all that is true, beautiful and good. In light of all the evidence that Christianity is really true (here I must simply refer you to our website), and since we must make some sort of choice regarding these issues, and since absolute certainty may not ultimately be possible, it seems to me that the safest bet is on the God of the Bible. Of course, in the long run, we must each be willing to take personal responsibility for the choice that we make – and be willing to accept the consequences that follow from it (Gleghorn 2010).

The reason why any ancient history publication, including the Bible, Qu’ran and the Vedas cannot conclude with ‘absolute certainty’ is because, at an historical distance it is so difficult to describe with 100% accuracy what happened.

See my article: Evidence for the afterlife to confirm a method for checking the historical reliability of the Bible.

2.4 Everyone should strive to achieve dharma.

‘Understanding the concept of dharma helps you understand the Hindu faith. Unfortunately, no single English word adequately covers its meaning. Dharma can be described as right conduct, righteousness, moral law, and duty. Anyone who makes dharma central to one’s life strives to do the right thing, according to one’s duty and abilities, at all times’.[14]

2.5 Individual souls are immortal.

‘A Hindu believes that the individual soul (atman) is neither created nor destroyed; it has been, it is, and it will be. Actions of the soul while residing in a body require that it reap the consequences of those actions in the next life — the same soul in a different body.

‘The process of movement of the atman from one body to another is known as transmigration. The kind of body the soul inhabits next is determined by karma (actions accumulated in previous lives). Learn more about Hindu funeral customs’.[15]

2.6 The goal of the individual soul is moksha.

Moksha is liberation: the soul’s release from the cycle of death and rebirth. It occurs when the soul unites with Brahman by realizing its true nature. Several paths can lead to this realization and unity: the path of duty, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion (unconditional surrender to God)’.[16]

3. Christian challenges to these Hindu beliefs

How do the above Hindu teachings conform with or contradict Christian theology?

3.1 Is the eternity of Hindu truth the same as Jesus’ truth

Within Hinduism there are contradictory teachings of the eternal. For example,

Many followers of Hinduism believe that Hinduism is an eternal religion (Sanatana Dharma). Now for many writers, scholars and historians of Hinduism, who prefer to follow the historical timeline to discuss the origin and growth of Hinduism, this poses many problems.

For example when someone writes that Hinduism evolved over a period of time through a complex historical process, those who faithfully adhere to the Puranic timeline and view every modern interpretation with doubt and derision raise their eye brows and accuse one of diluting the meaning and value of Hinduism. They wonder how a religion can be eternal and evolve at the same time. According to them either the religion is eternal and permanent or it is evolutionary and ephemeral. Both cannot possibly be in the same space, they argue….

For example when someone writes that Hinduism evolved over a period of time through a complex historical process, those who faithfully adhere to the Puranic timeline and view every modern interpretation with doubt and derision raise their eye brows and accuse one of diluting the meaning and value of Hinduism. They wonder how a religion can be eternal and evolve at the same time. According to them either the religion is eternal and permanent or it is evolutionary and ephemeral. Both cannot possibly be in the same space, they argue….

Then there are some aspects of Hinduism, especially the rituals, some practices and divinities, the ethics and the laws governing our social and religious conduct, which undergo change from time to time. If this is not so, Hindu women would be still committing sati and young girls would be still getting married as a matter of rule. We have come a long way from the time of human sacrifices to the present day of sacrificing our egos and energies in the service of God (Hinduwebsite.com. 2000-2019).[17]

clip_image010What is the teaching of the eternity of God in Christianity?

We know that:

  1. There is no time in God’s being. He is timeless. See Psalm 90:2, ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (ESV). Also refer to Rev 1:8.
  2. God sees all of time simultaneously or vividly. See Psalm 90:4, ‘For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night’ (ESV).
  3. Yet, God takes action in time. Jesus came ‘when the time had fully come’, born of a woman, under the law, to redeem those under the law (Gal 4:4-5) [with help from Grudem 1999:76-78].

Therefore, I find Wayne Grudem’s definition of God’s eternity to be affirmed by Scripture: ‘God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time’ (Grudem 1999:76).

So, the information about God loving Jacob and hating Esau does not have a ‘centuries after the fact’ dynamic when we understand God’s attribute of eternity or infinity because God is timeless in his being. This kind of understanding is seen in verses such as Eph 1:4 where God states of Christians that he chose us in Christ ‘BEFORE the foundation of the world’.

Systematic theologian, Henry Thiessen, wrote that

by the eternity of God we mean His infinity in relation to time; we mean that He is without beginning or end; that He is free from all succession of time; and that He is the cause of time.… That God is eternal is abundantly taught in Scripture…. Eternity for God is one Now’ (Thiessen 1949:122, emphasis in original).

Thiessen refers to Gen 21:33 (‘the Everlasting God’); Ps 90:2 (‘from everlasting to everlasting you are God’); Ps 102:27 (‘You are the same, and your years have no end’); Isa 57:15 where God is ‘high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity’, and 1 Tim 6:16 where the Sovereign, King of kings and Lord of Lords is the one ‘who alone has immortality’ (all citations are from the ESV).

3.2 How do Brahman truth and reality compare with Jesus’ truth and reality?

I agree that Christianity claims to be the truth and reality (John 14:6). How do truth and reality compare with other religions? The fact is that every major religion in the world claims an exclusive core.

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. These will not be surrendered. In fact, 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. The issue here is not who was right or wrong. The truth is that they were systemically different—both claiming rightness (Zacharias n.d.).

You will see this Hindu Brahman truth and reality played out in the discussion which follows, ‘Discussions with a Hindu’. Brahman ‘truth’ includes the doctrines of the Law of Karma and reincarnation. These are opposed to the biblical teaching of what happens at death. See my articles:

Image result for color image cemetery" What happens at death for believer and unbeliever?

Image result for color image cemetery Those who live and believe in Jesus Christ shall never die,

 

Image result for color image cemetery Will you be ready when your death comes?

‘What is truth?’ This was Pilate’s great question to Jesus Christ (John 18:38).

One dictionary definition is: Truth is ‘genuineness or veracity’; ‘that which is true; a fact; a reality; that which conforms to fact or reality; the real or true state of things”.[18] Another dictionary adds that truth is ‘The quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality’ (Lexico.com 2020. s.v. truth).

This is confirmed by my Greek word studies of aletheia which state: ‘John uses aletheia regularly in the sense of reality in contrast to falsehood or mere appearance… The revealed reality of God’[19] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says of aletheia: ‘The word has an absolute force … not merely ethical truth, but truth in all its fulness and scope, as embodied in Him’ (Vine 1940:159).

When we apply this to Jesus, this is an amazing statement. Jesus is saying, ‘I am ultimate reality. I am the root of what was, what is, what will come, I am the foundation of all that is genuine, factual and real in the world. Everything flows from Me’.

Jesus is the truth. However, Jesus is one Person in the divine Trinity. Of the Lord God it is written: ‘The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures for ever.’ (Psalm 119:160 ESV).

God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). To the unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58) and they wanted to stone Jesus. No wonder. He was not claiming to be like God, or sent by God, but he was claiming to be Yahweh — the “I AM.”

When I speak out against abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality; make a stand for justice for oppressed people; when I proclaim the atonement and salvation through Jesus Christ alone; when I practise biblical ethics on the job; when I write letters or articles for newspapers or magazines, my aim is never to promote my own opinion. My sole desire is to proclaim Jesus Christ as the ultimate reality of all that exists and has existed and will exist.

We do the greatest disservice to you, and especially our young people, when we ask them to experience Jesus without an understanding that we are talking about truth.

3.3 Do the Vedas have ultimate authority?

clip_image012 How can the Vedas proclaim ultimate authority when there is so much in them that is contradictory and conflicts with reality?

Flower17 Gandhi promoted non-violence as synonymous with Hinduism.

Flower17 However, the Hindu tradition for a long time recognised the use of violence to protect one’s state and people from external attacks.

Flower17 Another tradition renounced violence at the time the Upanishads were being promoted. This tradition claimed violent actions, by the law of karma, would produce more violent actions (Hinduism on peace and violence).[20]

Flower17 So, which is it? Violence to protect Hinduism or Ghandi’s non-violence?

Flower17 My ‘discussions with a Hindu’ (see below) demonstrate that Hinduism does not have its feet firmly planted in reality.

Consider these Hindu examples of contradiction regarding the origin of creation:

Veda mentions different gods as the creator of the universe, Rig Veda 2.20.1; 2.13.5 says Indra created the earth, Rig Veda 10.82.1 and Yajur Veda 17.25 says Vishwakarma created the heaven and earth, Rig Veda 10.190.3 says Dhatar created the heaven, earth, sun and the moon. Atharva Veda 9.5.20 says that the breast of the God Aja became the earth, we read in Purusha Sukta that the feet of the lord became the earth, all these Vedic verses contradict each other. Atharva Veda 13.1.6 states that Rohita created the heaven and earth. A verse states that Prajapati created the universe, another verse in Yajur Veda 14.30 states that Prajapati prayed to a Divine Speech and thence earth and heaven were produced. Some also say the creation took place after the association of father and daughter mentioned in Rig Veda 10.61 (Razvi 2014).

Read more of Sulaiman Razvi’s website for further examples of contradictions in the Vedas.

There have been apparent contradictions in the Bible, but they have been addressed in these publications:

Flower23Craig Blomberg 1987. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Leicester, England/Downers Grove, Illinois. Inter-Varsity Press.

Flower23 Craig Blomberg 2016. The Historical Reliability of the New Testament. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic.

Flower23 Bruce, F F 1943/1959 (rev). The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing.

Flower23Kitchen, K A 2006. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Flower23 Kaiser Jr., W C 2001. The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois/Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

3.4 What is dharma and should everyone strive to achieve it?

As explained in 2.4 above, dharma means to pursue good works and righteousness. This is good works’ religion and is contrary to a Christian understanding of salvation that is by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) and is demonstrated by doing good deeds (James 2).

There is no dharma in the Christian faith because dharma means ‘right conduct, righteousness, moral law, and duty’ practised at all times. That is not Christianity that is associated with the Holy Spirit enablement in the true believer. Yes, the Christian believer is expected to grow in his/her faith through sanctification but it is not a human beings righteousness that makes him/her righteous with God

The difference between dharma in Hinduism and Christianity revolves around an understanding of Christian salvation. How does a person become a Christian? These are some biblical understandings:

1. God is the author of salvation, ‘You have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. You are not saved by the things you have done, so there is nothing to boast about’ (Eph 2:8-9 ERV).[21]

2. To receive this salvation you need to hear it proclaimed publicly in person, by radio, TV, on the Internet, or by reading: ‘So faith comes from hearing the Good News. And people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ’ (Rom 10:17 ERV).

3. What will be the content of this proclamation?

(a) ‘All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness’ (Rom 3:23 ERV). Our being sinners keeps us out of God’s kingdom, so this needs to happen:

(b) ‘When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death [spiritual and physical]. But God gives his people a free gift—eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 6:23 ERV).

(c) How do you receive this gift? ‘If you openly say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved. Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in him, and so we are saved. (Rom 10:9-10 ERV). Belief from within you of Jesus’ resurrection is needed to become a Christian. This is faith without doubting who Jesus is. He’s the one who died, was buried and rose again for salvation (see also 1 Cor 15:3-4).

(d) This Good News of Jesus Christ is available to all people: ‘Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 ERV).

(e) Believers must continue trusting Christ to receive ultimate salvation: ‘But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved’ (Matt 24:13 ERV).

(f) What has God done for the person who has received salvation? ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom 5:1 NIV). What does it mean to be ‘justified’ by faith in God? We are ‘brought into right relationship with God, a condition he describes as “peace with God”’ (Brauch 1996:646).

Explained in more technical Greek terms, ‘justification by faith’ means, ‘The participle is causal: “since we have been declared righteous,” causal as introducing the effect. The cause is objective and outside of us, for God in heaven on his judgment seat made this declaration in regard to us; the effect is subjective, within us, the reaction that should follow in our hearts: “peace let us go on having, and let us go on boasting,” etc. (Lenski 1936:332).

Justification by faith means more: Since believers have been declared righteous by God, there will follow peace in their hearts. It is the Almighty God on his judgment seat who makes a judicial decision for all genuine believers in justifying them. He will not declare you unrighteous again, but you will demonstrate your faith by action:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:14-17 ERV).

Therefore, the Hindu understanding of dharma is radically different to the Christian teaching on salvation as a gift of God, belief in Christ, justification by faith, and good works that follow and demonstrate salvation.

3.5 Are individual souls immortal?

The Christian teaching is: ‘God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might for ever’ (1 Tim 6:15-16 NIV).

So there is only One, God Himself, who is immortal, never having a beginning or end.

However, what happens to believers and unbelievers at death? My response is in the article: Immortality of the Soul

My conclusion is that described by Robert Morey:

The immortality of the soul for all people is the teaching of orthodox Christianity and has been throughout its existence. Of course there have been a few exceptions, but these have been infinitesimal compared with the millions of orthodox teachers and followers in the history of the church. This led Robert Morey to state correctly: “From the classic Greek philosophers to the present time, the immortality of the soul has been accepted as immediately reasonable and virtually self-evident. . . For nearly two thousand years, with rare exceptions, Christians have generally believed in the immortality of the soul” (Morey 1984:68-69).

Immortality of the soul means that eternal salvation is the experience of the Christian from the moment he/she is committed to Christ as Saviour and Lord. Death means immediate translation into the presence of the Lord in Paradise for believers. For unbelievers, the immortality of the soul means continuous existence in the place of eternal punishment – Hades/hell – at the point of death. Denying the immortality of the soul is denial of orthodox biblical teaching.

To the question, “Are human beings immortal?” the answer is, “Yes, in the sense that their existence never ends.”

This is a teaching that in no way resembles the Hindu immortality of the soul.

3.6 What does it mean that the goal of the individual soul is moksha?

This is ‘a belief in the possibility of liberation and release (moksha) by which the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara) can be resolved’ (Kahn Academy, Beliefs of Hinduism 2020). [22]

Since moksha and samsara are involved in rebirth of those who have died and returned to the physical earth, it directly contradicts the Christian version of the soul. What happens at death according to Scripture?

gold foward button ‘Just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment’ (Heb 9:27 NLT). There is no moksha and samsara here. Kama and reincarnation are inventions of Hinduism.

gold foward button Where will the unbeliever in Christ go at death?

gold foward button What is the destiny of the believer in Jesus? He said: ‘I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life’ (John 5:24).

gold foward button What is the future for the person who is not a Christian at death?

But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done….

But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile (Rom 2:5-6, 8-9).

The Christian understanding of the afterlife is radically different to that of Hinduism. See: The Intermediate State for believers and unbelievers: Where do they go at death?

4. Discussions with a Hindu[23]

Here I share a lengthy online discussion I had online in an Australian, secular e-journal, On Line Opinion. The conversation began as comments to the article, Do we have free will? but the discussion moved to other subjects where he shared dimensions of his Hindu beliefs and worldview.

Kewal[24] the Hindu:

‘This article [Do we have free will?] demonstrates the kind of absurd conclusions reached by those who glorify the objective and deny the subjective’.[25]

Kewal:[26]

‘Nothing in the objective world, INCLUDING INTELLIGENCE, can disprove determinism, so those who worship the physical and deny the reality of themselves and God, can never be convinced. You are looking for evidence in the wrong direction – look inside instead and find all answers within!
‘Yes, determinism is not real, but only because the world around us itself is not the ultimate reality.

Spencer:[27]

How can the ‘objective world’ of ‘determinism’ be proven if it depends on the evidence ‘inside’ each individual?
That appeals to existential experiences that vary from person to person.

Do you suggest my answer may be different to yours, but that is the ‘answer’ for you and me? What if my internal evidence encourages me to hate and kill those who are violently angry with me?
How can that work itself out in an Australian culture that is plagued by existential meaninglessness. I was a counsellor and counselling manager for 34 years and these people came in droves.
The experience within has led many a person to commit suicide and heinous crimes.

Kewal:

His come back was:

I did not understand your question: “How can the ‘objective world’ of ‘determinism’ be proven if…”, because it cannot, because the theory of determinism is false. But as I told JP, it cannot be disproved either except by oneself, for oneself. So those who rather believe in determinism have the free will to do so!

The truth is the truth, regardless whether knowing it is liable to produce crime and suicide. You may however prefer for some people not to be aware of it – and this is already the case.
The ultimate truth is God, that there is nothing but God, that you are God and the world is your playground and you can do with it as you please, but others are also God and what appears to you to be different persons, your person and other persons, are actually all one and the same.

When you know this truth, you understand that you cannot truly kill others or yourself.

With the exception of the most heinous psychopaths, there is a natural mechanism by which those who feel guilty and liable to do harmful things would, in order to limit their violence, never allow themselves to expand and know or even understand this highest truth. In fact they would not even allow themselves to believe that they have any free will – they consider themselves victims and blame their circumstances, so they find determinism a convenient excuse. You could explain to them otherwise, but they just won’t get it, they won’t believe, they won’t understand – not until they are willing to review their crimes, confess and repent.[28]

Spencer:[29]

You stated:

The ultimate truth is God, that there is nothing but God, that you are God and the world is your playground and you can do with it as you please, but others are also God and what appears to you to be different persons, your person and other persons, are actually all one and the same.

So, can I as God, create rain to end the drought for outback Australia? If the world is my playground, why can’t you and I cause paedophilia, crime and violence to stop?
Or is your definition of ‘God’ different to my understanding?

Kewal:[30]

He responded to my statement, ‘Or is your definition of ‘God’ different to my understanding?’

You understand God?

Then whatever you understand is incorrect because God cannot be understood. To understand means to grasp by one’s mind, but no mind can grasp God.
The reason you cannot do all those things that you listed is that, for the time-being, you have taken upon yourself the roll/costume of a human and these are beyond a human’s capacity.
Yes the world is your playground and this is one of the games you play there (and games without a villain or two can be quite boring). You seem to take this role very seriously, but once you had enough, you may withdraw from the game and cast off that costume, just as you can always wake up from a dream (just on a grander scale), unscathed.

Spencer:[31]

To a certain extent I agree with you. God is incomprehensible (Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33-34), and yet He can be known at the same time (2 Peter 1:2-3).
I understand the Almighty God to the extent he has revealed Himself to us. This is part of that revelation:

“They [sinful, wicked people] know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. SO THEY HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING GOD.
“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:19-23).

Throughout Scripture God has provided details to understand Him better.
We won’t ever understand God comprehensively, However, He can be known genuinely, personally and adequately. He is the personal God who has definite attributes (characteristics) and He has personally revealed them to us.
See, “What are the most important things to understand about the nature of God? (Got Questions Ministries)

Kewal:

Exactly, God can be known but not understood![32]

Spencer:[33]

It is not exactly like that in my understanding. Why?
Job 36:26 asks: ‘How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out’.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t pursue an understanding of God as He has revealed many of his attributes to us. See: Understanding God.

Kewal:

In response to another person’s statement, ‘I suspect that all forms of life have some degree of free will – even plants and earthworms’,[34] Yuyutsu replied:

A precondition for free will is to have a subjective sense of will.
Otherwise, it is just physics in action.[35]

Another asked: ‘At what point of their development does a human gain free will’?[36]

Kewal’s reply was:[37]

Never.
A human is just a body, so are mice and frogs and plants and earthworms.
YOU have free will, or at least a subjective sense of will, but your human does not.

Kewal:

To another person he wrote:

A person is a physical object, so are animals, so are computers, so you can even speak about air and water “deciding” to flow in this or that direction, in fact every sub-atomic particle or wave constantly “decides” what to do – they might not have a FREE will, but they still have a WILL.
If that’s all there is to “will”, if we are only discussing physical mechanisms, then obviously there is no free will. Also, if that’s the case, then all that is left is a technical study of those mechanisms and frankly, I wouldn’t find this interesting.
However, the OED definition is quite different from the broader intuitive sense of WILL, including as presented by this article’s author. According to the broader sense, I may, for example, have the will to fly, yet my body doesn’t comply so it “decides” to stay on the ground and obey the law of gravity.
While there can be faculties of OED-style will, There cannot be a “faculty of free will”. Free will means that it is YOURS alone and independent of external factors. You may claim that free-will doesn’t exist – OK, many do, including the author, it’s called “determinism”.[38]

Spencer:[39]

You stated that ‘A person is a physical object, so are animals, so are computers, so you can even speak about air and water “deciding” to flow in this or that direction’.
Are you affirming that a person is only a physical object? Are we body/physical and there’s no more to us?

Kewal:[40]

How would a Hindu respond to my question asked immediately above?

We CAN pursue an understanding of God and it is an excellent practice which prepares and purifies us to become better recipients of divine grace. Yet what we end up with instead, is direct knowledge of God rather than mere intellectual understanding of words and formulas.
A person is only a physical object. YOU, however, are not a person nor a physical object.
The word ‘person’ comes from Latin ‘persona’, an actor’s mask. While we are wearing this mask, this costume of a human person, we are not it!
This mask has no will, how less so a free will, but by God’s gift, we do.

Spencer:[41]

You stated:

A person is only a physical object. YOU, however, are not a person nor a physical object.
The word ‘person’ comes from Latin ‘persona’, an actor’s mask. While we are wearing this mask, this costume of a human person, we are not it!

To the contrary, ‘person’ was used before the Latin:
1. ‘Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “In truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). ‘Respecter of persons’ = Greek, proswpolempetes. It is a compound word, of ‘proswpon‘ = face or person, and ‘lambanw‘, I take or take up.
2. Also, in Romans 2:11 it states, ‘There is no respect of persons with God’.
A person or a human being consists of the physical body and the unseen part which the Scriptures variously describe as soul, spirit, heart and mind.
Jesus taught other people and his disciples: ‘For what will it profit a man [human being] if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul’ (Mark 8:36)?
Thus, human beings as persons are more than physical matter.

Kewal:[42]

Of course he would have a comeback and it was this:

Yes, if you wish to go into subtleties, then a person also includes a mind which is not normally considered physical, but is a subtler body of ours which does not completely dissolve when our gross human body dies.
Neither body nor mind have free will, so it would be more accurate (though it would confuse everyday language) to describe them both as physical. The mental body, however, being more subtle, is more directly illumined by God’s light than the physical body, thus free will seems to emanate from the mind more than from the physical body – but even this is still an illusion as the source of free will is God alone.
P.S. The first two verses you quoted are about God’s lack of discrimination between Jews and “gentiles”. As for the third verse, no one can lose his soul – but one can corrupt their mind, thus lose contact between body and soul, which is what the verse refers to.

Uke:

He replied to Yuyutsu:[43]

You wrote: ‘A person is a physical object …’
That’s Nazi language, Yuyutsu. The German Nazis of Adolf Hitler dehumanized their victims, negating their personal identity as human beings, and tattooed them with numbers. They did this to demonstrate that they were nothing more than objects.
I do not know why you persist in declaring that “a person is a physical object” but, whatever the reason, it reveals a complete lack of sensitivity (and humanity) to the horrors of the Holocaust (or Shoah) and the suffering and humiliation of the families and friends of the six million innocent, civilian, Jewish victims.
An object, in its philosophical sense, is “a thing external to the thinking mind or subject” (OED).
In the case in hand, Yuyutsu, you are the “thinking mind or subject” and you designate “a person” (any person) as the “external thing”. I find that particularly degrading, demeaning and insulting. Is that how you consider your wife and children, your friends, acquaintances and fellow human beings? Are they all just “physical objects” or things ?
You who are so religious, claiming in previous threads on this forum, that you, yourself, are God, that I am God and that other people are God – and now, that as persons, we are all just “physical objects (or things)”. Logically, that makes your God just a “physical object” or thing as well.
I am ready to accept the elusive games you often play on this OLO forum, Yuyutsu, and the outlandish statements you also adore making. They do not bother me. But I do not accept your indifference to Nazi genocide and crimes against humanity.
Violent words engender violent action.
Adolf Hitler wrote in his book, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”):

The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous … effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand [Mein Kampf, chapter 6].[44]

Kewal’s response to Uke was:[45]

Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.
Hitler was correct in claiming that we are not humans, but he believed that some (like Jews) are lower than humans, while I claim that we all are far higher than humans. In fact, calling us “human” is a degrading insult to who we really are – God!

Cogno jumped it:[46]

So Yuyutsu, according to your view point I have a physical human body but which is detached from me.
Indeed what you’re saying is that this body of mine really has nothing to do with the “real me” or in other words this body and me cannot interact in anyway (eg, it cannot be controlled by the me).
Thus if my body was to murder someone than I’m in no way responsible.
Have I got this view-point of your’s right?

Kewal:

Cogno responded to Allap: ‘Thus if my body was to murder someone than I’m in no way responsible’.

Kewal’s reply was:[47]

Your body cannot murder.
Your body can kill just as a gun or a hammer can, but no sane judge would prosecute a gun or a hammer.
Now your body is not completely detached from you because your mind has attached itself to your body while you identify yourself as your mind. Your mind interacts with your body and can influence it to a certain degree, while you can freely choose to control and train your mind to follow the straight and narrow.
The mind is like a wild horse that needs to be broken. If you fail to control your mind and your mind then causes your body to murder, then you are responsible.
The mind has no free will and is set on its long-acquired habits. If you do not intervene and leave it in automatic-mode, then it will pursue its preset goals, most often to acquire, through your body, immediate sensual pleasures, and it would do so blindly at any cost. Training the mind to change its habits, is a long and arduous project – sometimes it seems impossible, but it actually is possible.

Uke to Kewal:

You wrote : ‘Hitler was correct in claiming that we are not humans, but he believed that some (like Jews) are lower than humans.…’
So do you, Yuyutsu. Like Hitler, you claim that “a person is a physical object” – which is why I protested so vigorously in my previous post. In fact, my whole post was entirely devoted to this single declaration of yours that I found particularly shocking and totally unacceptable.
But you obviously preferred to ignore it. You did not offer the slightest explanation, let alone justification.
As I already pointed out in my previous post, the only logical conclusion that one can draw from the fact that you also declare that you consider yourself, myself and other people to be God is that you consider your God to be a “physical object” (or thing) according to your own definition of us all as “persons”.
You have a double – perhaps even a triple – conflicting discourse, all versions of which are totally irreconcilable. I say “perhaps triple conflicting discourse” because you indicated on a previous thread that you know nothing about God because, according to you, God is undefinable.
Perhaps you are not aware of the totally confused and conflicting nature of your discourse, or perhaps you do not want to admit it, or, for some reason which I ignore, perhaps you are simply unable to admit it, or, at least, offer some explanation for it.
If it’s any consolation, Yuyutsu, allow me to add that I see no reason to doubt your good faith.
Nevertheless, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it, whatever the reason, and see no point in continuing this conversation.
Sorry, Yuyutsu

Kewal:[48]

He responded to another person who asked, ‘Did you type up that last message to [Uke] and me?
I am asking that same question myself and I don’t have a clear answer.
For writing this message, my body was obviously only used as a tool by my mind, my keyboard too, so just as it would be insane to claim “my keyboard did it”, the option of “my body did it” can also be safely discarded.
But was the message written by myself or by my mind? Was my body instructed to write the message by my independent free choice, or was this instruction done automatically by my mind due to its ongoing habits?
It is hard to tell. It is pretty tricky to tell.
Overall and over the long term, I can control and direct my mind, but have I done so in this particular instance, or did I lapse and just allowed my mind to automatically do its thing? Was I actually involved or was it just a case of one part of my mind influencing another part of my mind? This requires very deep reflection and honesty!
clip_image014

Alternately, if we transcend the personal level and look at this question at the level of the Absolute Truth, then I as God either wrote both that message, signed “Yuyutsu” as well as the next message, signed “Not_Now.Soon”, or I wrote neither of them because none was ever actually written as the world and time itself are just an illusion.
However, a learned theoretical answer is not very helpful and not as beneficial for spiritual growth as the answer I could obtain by sincere and intense contemplation.

Spencer:[49]

I responded to Yuyutsu’s statement: ‘We CAN pursue an understanding of God and it is an excellent practice which prepares and purifies us to become better recipients of divine grace’.
Which God/god are you writing about?

Kewal:[50]

God. Is there more than one?

Spencer:[51]

To respond his question I answered:

You were the one who stated you were God and I am God. I can assure you that I’m NOT the Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
I’m a created human being who has eternal salvation, thanks to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that I have accepted by faith, thanks to God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9).

Kewal:[52]

You will certainly attain eternal salvation, may God bless you sooner rather than later, yet your human will not survive as it will go to the worms.
Nor can your puny mind which believes that you are just a small entity, separate from all others, survive the light once you are with God.
It is our greatest malady that we forgot who we are, our infinite worth and unlimited glory, instead identifying ourselves as mere human-beings.
Salvation is when we wake up from this delusion of smallness, to realise who we truly eternally are and always were.

Spencer:[53]

You wrote: ‘’Nor can your puny mind which believes that you are just a small entity, separate from all others, survive the light once you are with God’
From where did you gain that view of God?

‘Salvation is when we wake up from this delusion of smallness, to realise who we truly eternally are and always were’.

That might be your view, but it is not that of the biblical Scriptures.

clip_image016(image courtesy Pinterest)

“… Believe in the Lord Jesus , and you will be saved, you and your household” is the Bible’s teaching (Acts 16:31).

“Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There is no hint of waking up from my delusion of who I was and am eternally.
Your view of salvation is not coming from the Christian Scriptures. What is your source of information about salvation?

Kewal:[54]

My source of information is scripture, mainly the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita, including not just my private reading but also scripture-classes that I am so fortunate to attend.
The question of free-will for example is addressed in the first khanda of the Kena Upanishad.
I accept Jesus’ famous statement: “No one comes to the Father except through me”, because I believe Jesus to be among those relatively-few who knew who they truly are: God. Thus when Jesus said “me”, he didn’t refer to that specific human, son-of-Joseph-and-Mary who lived 2000 years-ago, but rather to who he truly is.
The bible is not explicit about who we are. It discusses the origins and the fall of mankind and how to remedy it, but nowhere does it says “and that is what you are”. Genesis 3 for example speaks only in third person: “But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””, or “To the woman he said,…” – it never claims that you are that man/woman to which God spoke, it just instructs you how to use your free will correctly in conducting that human which you (falsely) consider to be yourself.

Spencer:[55]

‘The bible is not explicit about who we are. It discusses the origins and the fall of mankind and how to remedy it, but nowhere does it says “and that is what you are’.

That’s false! ‘So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27).

Also, after listing a range of sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10), the apostle Paul, in the Christian Scriptures, stated: ‘Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Cor 6:11).
Human beings are a unity of the physical (body) and the immaterial (Eccl 12:7; Matt 10:28; 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Cor 4:16; 7:1; James 2:26).
The Bible describes the invisible, immaterial aspects of people as soul, spirit, heart, intellect, will, conscience, and emotions.

‘I accept Jesus’ famous statement: “No one comes to the Father except through me”, because I believe Jesus to be among those relatively-few who knew who they truly are: God. Thus when Jesus said “me”, he didn’t refer to that specific human, son-of-Joseph-and-Mary who lived 2000 years-ago, but rather to who he truly is’.

That’s an Yuyutsu eclectic invention. It does not come from the biblical Scriptures but from the mind of Yuyutsu. You also want to integrate Hindu and Judeo-Christian Scriptures to get your view of God and Jesus. God said not to do that:
clip_image018 ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me’ (Isaiah 45:5).
clip_image019 ‘Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).
It was you who stated you are God and I am God. No sir! There is only one true God, the LORD, and he is not Yuyutsu or OzSpen.

Kewal:[56]

I wholeheartedly agree that God is neither Yuyutsu nor OzSpen.
All I was saying is that neither am I any of those, nor are you.
I could go over your biblical quotes one by one if you want and explain why I can accept them within the framework of my theology, but I don’t have the time to do so today, nor sufficient time until next Thursday, if you wish to wait.

Spencer:[57]

‘I wholeheartedly agree that God is neither Yuyutsu nor OzSpen. All I was saying is that neither am I any of those, nor are you’.

With that statement and others, you have violated the law of non-contradiction because it was you who stated: “The ultimate truth is God, that there is nothing but God, that YOU ARE GOD and the world is your playground and you can do with it as you please, but OTHERS ARE ALSO GOD…”[58]

‘I could go over your biblical quotes one by one if you want and explain why I can accept them within the framework of my theology, but I don’t have the time to do so today, nor sufficient time until next Thursday, if you wish to wait’.

There is no point as you promote syncretism of Hinduism and Christianity and dealing with my ‘biblical quotes’ will produce only another mixture of syncretism, in which I have no interest.
Why? “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9).

The one God is revealed in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

Kewal:[59]

There is no contradiction: What You and I and everyone else truly are, is God, not “Yuyutsu” or “OzSpen”.

I respect your wishes not to discuss any further and wish you well. May God speed your blessings.

Spencer:[60]

‘The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita tell us that the only difference between us and Jesus is that Jesus already knew that he is God while we are yet to discover the same’.

clip_image021The Christian Scriptures provide a very different picture of the nature of human beings. We are not discovering we are God.

Instead, we KNOW we need a Saviour because we, as human beings, recognise we were dead in transgressions and sins before Jesus, the Saviour, set Christians free from ‘the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient’ (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Most people I speak with don’t want the word SIN mentioned because it is not a problem to them. However, the big problem for all humanity is our sinful nature from birth. We then live among those who are disobedient to God, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we are by nature deserving of God’s wrath (Eph 2:3).

Those who don’t know and serve God are not discovering that we are God, as you say, they are not even seeking God because they are “dead in their sins”, with passionate desires and inclinations of their sinful nature.
One Christian writer used Ephesians 2:1-5 to provide this penetrating assessment:

The reason we need a Savior is not just that we are in the doghouse with God and need to be forgiven for offending his glory. We need a Savior because we are in the morgue. In the doghouse you might whimper. You might say you are sorry. You might make some good resolutions. You might decide to cast yourself on the mercy of God. But what can you do if you are in the morgue? (Piper 1985)

Kewal:[61]

Thank you for the quotes and the assessment: I agree.
Yes, we are born and live in sin and death, yes we need a saviour.
The depiction of the nature of human beings is the same in Christian and Hindu Scriptures, but what the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita add is: “Yes, this is indeed the nature of human beings, but WE – YOU and I, only SEEM to be human beings, it is only an illusion. So long as we delusively believe ourselves to be human beings, we live in sin and death, and suffer accordingly, but salvation comes when, by God’s grace, we wake up and shake away this illusion. Once we awaken from this nightmare, we recall who we really are, who we always truly were, which is God.”

Spencer:[62]

‘The depiction of the nature of human beings is the same in Christian and Hindu Scriptures, but what the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita add is: “Yes, this is indeed the nature of human beings, but WE – YOU and I, only SEEM to be human beings, it is only an illusion’.

No, it’s not the same. Nowhere do the Christian Scriptures state that people “ONLY SEEM to be human beings, it is only an illusion”.
That kind of statement doesn’t match reality. Christian aletheia (truth) is that which conforms to reality.
I can assure you that when I’ve had my FIVE open-heart, valve replacement heart surgeries that the cardiac surgeon was operating on a real human body. I have a zipper of a scar down my chest to prove my real heart and body have been cut wide open for the surgeon to operate on a real, genuine, human body.

There was no body of illusion here. The pain experienced was in a real human body. The holes from the tubes draining my stomach had to drain the blood and other gunk, not from an illusion, but from a real human body. I have scars to prove it.
I pop quite a few pills into my body every day to keep the body – not an illusion – functioning as well as possible.
This is but one example of how the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism have teachings that do not conform to reality.

Kewal:[63]

‘Nowhere do the Christian Scriptures state that people “ONLY SEEM to be human beings, it is only an illusion’.

I am not familiar enough with all Christian Scriptures, especially with the mystical compilations of Christian saints, to tell whether or not this is the case, but if you mean the bible only, then I agree that the bible does not address this. The Jewish Kabbalah, however, does and agrees with the Hindu scriptures on this matter.
I am sad to hear about your heart condition. Jesus too had his body punctured and underwent horrendous physical pains, but he did not complain, because he did not identify with the human body of his. It was only his body that was on the cross and it was only your body that was on the operating table.
I thought you may be interested in reading the deathbed account of the Australian spiritual teacher, Barry Long: http://www.barrylong.org/statements/what-it-is-to-die.shtml

Spencer:[64]

Barry Long died on 6 December 2003 from prostate cancer. He examined “another paradigm” about eternity. That paradigm included, “When I realise God or Self I realise the ultimate of my Self-knowledge up to that moment – that I and God or Self are one” (Long 2019).
This is from your Hindu worldview.
Since you aren’t ‘familiar enough with all Christian Scriptures’ to understand what the Bible says about our eternal destinies, I remind you there is no need to speculate about Self-knowledge and our being God or Self. That’s an illusion from Hinduism.
The biblical Scriptures are very clear that human beings are made in the image of God. They are destined for one of two places in eternity: eternal life through Jesus Christ or eternal damnation (see Matthew 25:46, “They [the unrighteous] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life”).
You failed to address the falsehood that the body is an illusion.
My heart condition was used as an example to demonstrate we are not illusions but are real people who experience real pain in our real physical bodies.
Try telling an accident victim that his or her physical body is an illusion!

Kewal:[65]

To spend either eternal life or eternal damnation, you must at least be eternal, but the human body is not, it goes to the worms. By God’s grace, nor is one’s unrighteousness eternal either.
The world is an illusion, or more accurately not-the-truth: the only Truth is God. It doesn’t, however, help to tell this to accident-victims who are in great physical pain: at this time they have no ears to hear this highest truth.

Spencer:[66]

‘To spend either eternal life or eternal damnation, you must at least be eternal, but the human body is not, it goes to the worms. By God’s grace, nor is one’s unrighteousness eternal either’.

You again are giving me your Hindu worldview. You contradict the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, which match reality. Human beings are body and soul/spirit.
I agree with you that the body goes to dust, whether in the ground or through a crematorium fire. However, the reality is that human beings are not an illusion but have a spirit/soul that continues beyond the grave.
The apostle Paul put it this way: ‘For me to live is Christ, to die is gain’. How can it be gain if we only are human bodies that are eaten by worms.
Eternal life or eternal damnation is given to human beings on the basis of how they respond to Christ’s offer of salvation (Matthew 25:46).

‘The world is an illusion, or more accurately not-the-truth’.

That is not true again! You regularly make statements that don’t match reality. In this world, I sit on an actual office chair as I type this message on the keyboard of a real computer. I’m about to go to an appointment and I drive a real car down an actual freeway. There are real trees on either side of the freeway.
The appointment is with a real professional who is not an illusion. By the way, this lawyer is not God, either. He’s a professional solicitor who is really a man to whom I speak – not an illusion.
Your worldview whistles in the wind of unreality.

Kewal:[67]

‘You contradict the Judeo-Christian Scriptures’.

Regarding the Christian Scriptures, it is yet to be seen, but at least the Jewish Kabbalah agrees with me. As I mentioned earlier, Christian Scriptures also consist of the accounts of Christian mystics and saints, though I only glimpsed some, so I am not in a position to comment.
Now even if there are contradictions with Christian Scriptures, this does not necessarily imply a contradiction with Jesus Christ’s teachings.

‘Human beings are body and soul/spirit’.

True. The spirit lasts longer than the body, the soul lasts longer than the spirit, but neither lasts forever.

‘Eternal life or eternal damnation is given to human beings’.

Fine, but you are not a human being, nor do human beings last for eternity. I agree that both life and damnation can last a VERY long time.

‘In this world, I sit on an actual office chair’.

The chair is only relatively true, relative to the world, yet the world itself once never existed and eventually will no longer exist. Only that with is eternal and immutable can rightly be called “Truth”.

Spencer:[68]

‘Christian Scriptures also consist of the accounts of Christian mystics and saints’.

Please state who they are and in which books of the Bible they are located (giving chapters and verses).

‘Now even if there are contradictions with Christian Scriptures’.

Your hypothesis again, with no evidence to support your claims.

‘The spirit lasts longer than the body, the soul lasts longer than the spirit, but neither lasts forever’.

You didn’t get that teaching from the biblical Scriptures. There you’ll find ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are interchangeable descriptions of the immaterial part of human beings.
The Christian Scriptures sometimes describe a human being as “body and soul” (Matt. 6:25; 10:28). Other times a person is “body and spirit” (Eccl. 12:7; 1 Cor. 5:3, 5).
At death, sometimes it is described as the soul departing (Gen. 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21; Acts 15:26). At other times, it is the spirit that is given up (Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59).
When it comes to explaining the immaterial element of the dead, it is called both soul and spirit (1 Peter 3:19; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9; 20:4). The terms are used interchangeably.

‘You are not a human being, nor do human beings last for eternity. I agree that both life and damnation can last a VERY long time’.

Telling me over and over that I am not a human being doesn’t reinforce your claim. I’ve repeated examples to you of how your human beings as illusions come from a Hindu philosophy that doesn’t match reality.
I am a physical being with a soul who has a conscience and I can engage in rational thinking. It seems like your worldview prevents your accepting the reality that every person is a human being.
How do I know I’m a real human being? The surgeon has operated on my real, pumping heart and replaced mitral and aortic valves with artificial ones. My cardiac surgeon did not operate on an illusion. He cut open a real chest bone to replace real, leaking valves with artificial ones.

clip_image022How I looked a week after open-heart, valve replacement surgery. This is not a photograph of me.[69]

Have a guess what? I was in a real hospital theatre in which I was operated on. There were real cardiac surgeons and assistants, nurses and other attendants in the theatre. Domestic staff assisted me in hospital.

I wrote: “In this world, I sit on an actual office chair.”

You responded: ‘The chair is only relatively true, relative to the world, yet the world itself once never existed and eventually will no longer exist. Only that with is eternal and immutable can rightly be called “Truth”’.
That is nonsense. I bought my real chair from Officeworks, not because it was ‘relatively true’ but because it actually existed. I roll an actual office chair on a plastic office mat to and from my PC keyboard. I have a mug for tea in front of me. My CPU is so real I can touch it. Same with my printer. It broke down at the weekend and I took it to my IT professional son who fixed a real printer.
It’s time for you to come out of the world of illusion and into the world of reality.
Your comments do not give credence to your philosophy of life.

Kewal:[70]

‘Please state who they are [mystics and saints] and in which books of the Bible they are located’.

I referred to other Christian Scriptures, though as mentioned, I’m not familiar enough with all Christian Scriptures. My Christian friends tell me that there is vast mystical literature of Christian saints. I was recommended Saint Augustine’s “City of God” and the writings of Thomas Aquinas, but regrettably they still sit fresh and new on my bookshelf as I never got around to read them. I know much more about Judaism and Hinduism, but sorry, one never has enough time to study everything.

‘There you’ll find ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are interchangeable descriptions of the immaterial part of human beings’.

The bible uses three different Hebrew words: “Nefesh”, “Ruach” and “Neshamah”: three out of five levels of the soul: http://www.rabbidavidcooper.com/cooper-print-index/2010/11/8/2358-five-dimensions-of-the-soul.html

‘I’ve repeated examples to you of how your human beings as illusions come from a Hindu philosophy that doesn’t match reality’.

It is the world which Hindu philosophy considers an illusion, rather than human-beings in particular, for that which is transient cannot be the real. Whether Hindu philosophy matches at least some of the Christian schools of thought is yet to be investigated, but the ancient Hindu seers only observed the reality and used sharp logic to analyse it. Our senses are not designed to capture reality, but only to support the physical survival of our bodies. Our minds too are biased and distort the reality.

‘He cut open a real chest bone’.

Science tells that what seems as chest bone is just a collection of molecules and that matter itself is only a concentrated form of energy. The Upanishads predicted this finding and teach further that energy itself is only a concentrated form of thought (would it perhaps correspond with the biblical concept that “In the beginning was the word”?). Anyway, there are several layers of this “onion” and if you peel them all away to examine what they truly are, all you find is God.
Logically there cannot be anything/anyone but God, for otherwise God would have been limited and subject to competition.

Spencer:[71]

I asked you, Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 24 January 2019 8:10:01 PM: “Would you please supply New Testament evidence where Jesus stated he was a Yogi or used the thinking of a Yogi?”
You avoided that question and gave the miracles of Jesus as examples of the work of a yogi. Similar ‘miracles’ could be performed by a witch in the occult. Would you call that witch a yogi? You stated:

First I don’t understand what you mean by “the thinking of a Yogi”. Being a Yogi does not imply any particular pattern of thought, but rather the freedom from thoughts. A Yogi controls his thoughts rather than having wandering thoughts control him/her.

You were the one who stated:

There is no contradiction between being a Yogi and the Son of God: a Yogi is someone who controls their (sic) mind, whose thoughts do not waver, thus is able to concentrate and affect energy, thus matter, like the wonders that Jesus performed.[72]

That is the content to which I referred with ‘the thinking of a Yogi’.
I do not find a word in the New Testament that confirms your understanding of the attributes of a yogi in Jesus. Jesus was not a yogi but God Himself.

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs that his followers saw, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you can believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Then, by believing, you can have life through his name” (John 20:30-31 ERV).

Thus, Jesus performed miracles, not to demonstrate he was a yogi but that people would believe he was the Christ, the Son of God – affirming his divinity – and to grant (eternal) life to those who put their trust in him.

Kewal:[73]

We are just discussing the same, only from two different perspectives, using different terminologies.
Is the sun rising in the east, or is it the earth that turns around its axis while revolving around the sun? Both statements are true, they just come from two different perspectives. Fighting over which view is correct, is plain silly. Saying that Jesus performed miracles ONLY as a Son of God is like insisting that the sun gives us light and warmth only because it rises in the east.
Yogis do not perform miracles because they want to demonstrate that they are yogis: attempting to do so would be a perversion and would anyway fail because instead of concentrating on their object, or ideally on God, their mind would wander thinking “Oh, I want to prove that I am a Yogi…”.
As for witches, they have an unusual degree of concentration, which is in common with Yogis and allows them to concentrate long enough to affect energy and matter to some significant degree, but their concentration is imperfect and is eventually broken by their dark desires, bringing about their downfall.
Earnest disciples too can be blessed to have a span of concentration on God, including in the form of Jesus, thus bring about minor miracles. However, their concentration is temporary and fragile. We hear of their success stories, but not as much of their [human] failures. I don’t know about the Christian view, but Judaism forbids and considers it a sin to rely on miracles (http://www.aish.com/atr/Relying_on_Miracles.html, http://theruminativerabbi.blogspot.com/2014/02/relying-on-miracles.html). Yes, miracles MAY happen, but one should never jump off the roof thinking “God will send me a parachute”.

Spencer:[74]

You stated: ‘We are just discussing the same, only from two different perspectives, using different terminologies’.
To the contrary! We are discussing Jesus and what he did from 2 radically different worldviews – Hinduism and Christianity.
Jesus performed miracles so that people would ‘believe that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. Then, by believing, you could have life through his name’ (John 20:31).
He did not perform miracles and then go to the cross to be slaughtered for the world of sinners to demonstrate he was a yogi or a Hindu Yogi. He did it to provide eternal life for all who would trust in Jesus.

Kewal[75] [76]

This storm in a teacup within Christianity is due to the faith in the permanency of matter, that is closely related to materialism.
We know that all the atoms of our body are replaced every 7-15 years.
We also know that atomic particles (and thereby the matter comprising them) are not stable either – they can be created at any time and are eventually destroyed.
If we are to get back our old bodies when resurrected, then the question arises, “from where and when exactly?”. If we got back every molecule we ever had then we would weigh tons and also as our old cells pass through the food-chain and are recycled into other humans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtLVMgcBbAI), we would be quarrelling over our body’s atoms: “that’s mine, no that’s mine…”.

Once we understand that matter is not permanent, but only a concentrated form of energy (E=mc²), which in turn is only a concentrated form of mind, we need not fuss over which particular bones and flesh Jesus was resurrected with and will find it silly to ask whether or not all the calcium atoms from the bones of his original corpse were present in his resurrected body. For a great Yogi like Jesus, assembling a new body from thin air or from the sun’s rays is a very simple task!

Spencer[77]

Your view is that, ‘if we are to get back our old bodies when resurrected, then the question arises, “from where and when exactly?”’
You haven’t read the book of Scripture carefully. This is what it states:

“50 Brothers and sisters, here is what I’m telling you. Bodies made of flesh and blood can’t share in the kingdom of God. And what dies can’t share in what never dies. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery. We will not all die. But we will all be changed. 52 That will happen in a flash, as quickly as you can wink an eye. It will happen at the blast of the last trumpet. Then the dead will be raised to live forever. And we will be changed.
“53 Our natural bodies don’t last forever. They must be dressed with what does last forever. What dies must be dressed with what does not die. 54 In fact, that is going to happen. What does not last will be dressed with what lasts forever. What dies will be dressed with what does not die. Then what is written will come true. It says, “Death has been swallowed up. It has lost the battle.” (Isaiah 25:8)” [1 Corinthians 15:50-54].

Your claim is that ‘for a great Yogi like Jesus, assembling a new body from thin air or from the sun’s rays is a very simple task!’
Your worldview is affecting your identification of Jesus. He is not a Yogi but the Son of God: ‘When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those in the boat worshiped Jesus. They said, “You really are the Son of God!”’ (Matthew 14:32-33).

Kewal:[78]

Thank you for the good quote, famous through Handel’s Messiah!
I disagree that a body, any body, can last forever, but yes, it is possible to obtain a subtle body that lasts a very long time – thousands of years if not millions: perhaps this is what the verses refer to?
There is no contradiction between being a Yogi and the Son of God: a Yogi is someone who controls their mind, whose thoughts do not waver, thus is able to concentrate and affect energy, thus matter, like the wonders that Jesus performed.

Spencer:[79]

<< I disagree that a body, any body, can last forever, but yes, it is possible to obtain a subtle body that lasts a very long time…. PERHAPS this is what the verses refer to?>>
The verses do not mean that. Please read 1 Corinthians 15 in context.

Part of this Scripture states:

“42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…. 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable”.

First Corinthians 15 does NOT teach that a physical body lasts forever because ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’.
I do wish you’d take the time to read the biblical texts so that you don’t come up with your contorted interpretation. You stated:

There is no contradiction between being a Yogi and the Son of God: a Yogi is someone who controls their (sic) mind, whose thoughts do not waver, thus is able to concentrate and affect energy, thus matter, like the wonders that Jesus performed.

There is a radical difference between the two.
The Bible doesn’t use those exact words from Jesus, ‘I am God’. See the example of Jesus’ words from John 10:30, ‘I and the Father are one’. Notice the reaction of the Jews who heard his statement:

They wanted to stone him to death but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ (vv31-32) “‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (v33).

Jesus was no Yogi; he was God Himself.

Uke:[80]

He jumped in with these comments:

To all and sundry,
I must say I am deeply impressed by all those on this forum whose imagination is so rich and whose willingness to believe is so extensive when evoking possible scientific explanations of the biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
It elicits my curiosity as to how this may be justified, given the following:
1. For an explanation to qualify as scientific, it seems that an independent researcher should be able to replicate the experiment, under the same conditions, and achieve the same results. How could this apply in the case of the claimed resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?
2. It seems that the only two events subject to “almost universal assent” among historians are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus). Therefore, is not the claimed resurrection of Jesus simply a question of faith (until further evidence comes to light)?
3. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NIV), Saul of Tarsus declares : “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the basis of Christian hope and faith. But his resurrection has never been historically established. It, too, is purely a question of faith.
In other words, Christian hope and faith relies on a hypothetical event whose occurrence also requires hope and faith in order to be believed.
I can understand that some Christians feel the need to exercise their imagination in order to find a more solid base for their faith than simply piling up successive layers of faith, one on top of the other. There must be a limit to where you can go with that – even for the most gullible of individuals.
Hence the unfalsifiable pseudo-scientific theories expounded here.

Spencer:[81]

Uke, you wrote:

I must say I am deeply impressed by all those on this forum whose imagination is so rich and whose willingness to believe is so extensive when evoking possible scientific explanations of the biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Do you know what historical science is? Or are you confusing it with empirical experimentation of repeatability? Seems so.
Your presuppositions are thundering, ‘I have my own anti-Christian axe to grind and I’ll use this forum to my advantage’. Those presuppositions are demonstrated by these statements:
clip_image023 ‘all those on this forum whose imagination is so rich’;
clip_image023[1] ‘willingness to believe’;
clip_image023[2] ‘evoking possible scientific explanations’;
clip_image023[3] ‘Christian hope and faith relies on a hypothetical event’.
clip_image023[4] ‘some Christians feel the need to exercise their imagination’;
clip_image023[5] ‘Hence the unfalsifiable pseudo-scientific theories expounded here.’
Each presupposition has UNPROVEN written over it. Again, you wrote:

For an explanation to qualify as scientific, it seems that an independent researcher should be able to replicate the experiment, under the same conditions, and achieve the same results. How could this apply in the case of the claimed resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?

Could you replicate Captain James Cook’s voyage up the East Coast of Australia in 1770 using your definition of science? Again, you don’t know how to investigate history using the historical method.
Christian hope and faith don’t rest on a hypothetical event (your view) but on an historical happening. It is faith founded on the facts of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The research has already been done for you to disprove your ‘hypothetical event’ by Prof Dr N T Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (SPCK 2003 – 817pp).

Kewal:[82]

You (OzSpen) wrote: “First Corinthians 15 does NOT teach that a physical body lasts forever because ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’”.

There are numerous reasons why a physical body cannot last forever. The reason provided in Corinthians is just one of them, yet other reasons pertain to all bodies, not just gross-physical.

OzSpen: “There is a radical difference between the two (worldviews of Jesus”.

Granted, Jesus is God, but it is not an either-or: nothing precludes Jesus from being both God AND a Yogi.

Spencer:[83]

Kewal, you stated: “Granted, Jesus is God, but it is not an either-or: nothing precludes Jesus from being both God AND a Yogi”.

Would you please supply New Testament evidence where Jesus stated he was a Yogi or used the thinking of a Yogi?

Kewal:[84]

OzSpen stated: ‘Would you please supply New Testament evidence where Jesus stated he was a Yogi or used the thinking of a Yogi?’
First I don’t understand what you mean by “the thinking of a Yogi”. Being a Yogi does not imply any particular pattern of thought, but rather the freedom from thoughts. A Yogi controls his thoughts rather than having wandering thoughts control him/her.
Now why would Jesus tell his Jewish disciples that he is a Yogi? If he did then they wouldn’t understand it anyway! He also didn’t tell them that E=mc² as they wouldn’t understand it either because their grasp of both physical and metaphysical sciences was quite primitive, nor was it necessary for them to understand it.

Spencer:[85]

This was your view: ‘We are just discussing the same, only from two different perspectives, using different terminologies’.
To the contrary! We are discussing Jesus and what he did from 2 radically different worldviews – Hinduism and Christianity.
Jesus performed miracles so that people would ‘believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Then, by believing, you can have life through his name’ (John 20:31).
He did not perform miracles and then go to the cross to be slaughtered for the world of sinners to demonstrate he was a yogi or a Hindu Yogi. He did it to provide eternal life for all who would trust in Jesus.

Kewal:[86]

clip_image025OzSpen wrote: ‘To the contrary! We are discussing Jesus and what he did from 2 radically different worldviews – Hinduism and Christianity’.
Not so radically different, compared for example with the atheist perspective that Jesus either never existed or never performed miracles, or with the Jewish perspective that Jesus was a scoundrel which deserved to be crucified (and where “Messiah” means a powerful king who conquers all surrounding lands and restores the nation of Israel to its former glory and beyond).
At the end of the day, Jesus was who he was. You could look at him from so many angles, but all words would only be reflections on Jesus, incomparable with his actual and ungraspable presence.
Words do not grant eternal life: it is the knowledge of God which does, rather than mumbling the correct formula. Formulas are good and important because they can inspire us to live righteously and to seek God, but left on their own they are only barren intellectual acrobatics. When trusting in Jesus brings one to dedicate their life to God, then they have eternal life through Jesus’ name.
Ideas cannot save us: effective believing should consist of much more than holding and entertaining an intellectual idea that X is Y. By going on the cross, Jesus demonstrated that his teachings of love were not merely intellectual ideas. It is his living teachings that save from death, if followed, rather than merely recited.
«He did not perform miracles and then go to the cross to be slaughtered for the world of sinners to demonstrate he was a yogi or a Hindu Yogi.»
No Yogi, Hindu or otherwise, does so. I will repeat: it is a perversion. Only insecure people have this perverse need to let the world “know” who they are.

Spencer:[87]

Kewal wrote: ‘Not so radically different, compared for example with the atheist perspective that Jesus either never existed or never performed miracles, or with the Jewish perspective that Jesus was a scoundrel which deserved to be crucified (and where “Messiah” means a powerful king who conquers all surrounding lands and restores the nation of Israel to its former glory and beyond)’.
We are worldviews apart.
Let’s leave it as that.

Kewal:[88]

In a later post on this topic, Kewal made this statement, ‘Knowing God ends all suffering’.

Spencer:[89]

Kewal wrote, ‘Knowing God ends all suffering’.

I couldn’t let him get away with this Hindu view that doesn’t match reality, so I responded:

That’s as you see it from your worldview. The facts are that I’ve had pain throughout my long life, starting with 3 bouts of rheumatic fever as a child right through to 5 open-heart, valve replacement surgeries.
To say that my knowing God has ended my suffering, including a stroke and its aftermath, flies in the face of reality. You’re promoting an illusion.
God has not ended suffering in my Christian life but he has used it for His purposes:

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4).

Thus, it is false to say that God ends all suffering, unless you mean after death.
In this life, there is a purpose in trials and suffering for Christian believers. God uses difficulties to mature our trust in God.

Kewal:[90]

First, your conclusion: ‘In this life, there is a purpose in trials and suffering for Christian believers. God uses difficulties to mature our trust in God.’
Is true for everyone, not only for Christian believers.[91]
Spencer wrote: ‘To say that my knowing God has ended my suffering, including a stroke and its aftermath, flies in the face of reality.’
There is difference between knowing God and having information ABOUT God. The information may be correct and wonderful to have, but it is still only information, it is still only on an intellectual/theoretical level: an analogy would be the difference between passing a driving theory test and actually knowing to drive. Knowing God Himself is a total and direct experience beyond anything which words can describe. Such knowledge ends all suffering.
Spencer: ‘Thus, it is false to say that God ends all suffering, unless you mean after death.’
Whether you continue to live or die after knowing God, is truly up to God, depending on whether you still have a calling in this world to serve others who still suffer. As far as you are concerned, once you know God, life or death, pleasure or pain, are all the same, you no longer care about it either way.

Spencer:[92]

Kewal wrote: ‘There is difference between knowing God and having information ABOUT God. The information may be correct and wonderful to have, but it is still only information, it is still only on an intellectual / theoretical level’.
You assume you know the nature of my relationship with God. How can that be when you don’t know me personally?
Kewal again:

‘an analogy would be the difference between passing a driving theory test and actually knowing to drive. Knowing God Himself is a total and direct experience beyond anything which words can describe. Such knowledge ends all suffering.’

Are you stating that you know God and I don’t?
In your Hindu worldview, does my giving examples of suffering in my life demonstrate to you that I don’t know God?
Don’t you ever experience trials, difficulties or sufferings in life?
By the way you speak of “knowing God” as if there is one God to know. One estimate has been that there are 330 million Hindu gods. How can Hinduism be both monotheistic and polytheistic? A Hindu website stated: ‘I am pretty surprised as to how … they arrive at 330 million. In fact there are billions more…. There are infinite Gods. What made them stop at the doors of few hundred millions? I don’t know’ (Sanskrit Magazine).[93]

.

Kewal:[94]

Spencer: ‘You assume you know the nature of my relationship with God. How can that be when you don’t know me personally?’
I don’t know you personally, but the fact that you complain about suffering means that you do not yet know God. Yes, you may have much information about God, so do I, but we still suffer until we know God in fact, directly.
Once you experience God as the only reality there is, the only truth, the only joy, everything else fades into insignificance, including pain. Yes, even if you know God, when undergoing surgery the nerves still fire and inform the brain that something is broken in the body, so the sensation of pain is still there, but living in the constant joy of God, you no longer interpret it as “suffering”.
Spencer: ‘Are you stating that you know God and I don’t?’
No, neither of us does and only a few living do.
Knowing God is a long-term project, it takes lifetimes, but is the only worthwhile pursuit.
Spencer: ‘In your Hindu worldview, does my giving examples of suffering in my life demonstrate to you that I don’t know God?’
The fact that you have physical pains does not demonstrate so, but that you complain and feel bad about it does.
Spencer: ‘Don’t you ever experience trials, difficulties or sufferings in life?’
Yes.
Spencer: ‘By the way you speak of “knowing God” as if there is one God to know.’
Why “as if”?
Spencer: ‘How can Hinduism be both monotheistic and polytheistic?’
The link you provided already explains it.
Let me summarise/reiterate: we differentiate between ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’, and ‘gods’ with a small ‘g’. Since it is nearly impossible to worship God who has no attributes, Hindus use the god(s) that are personally most appealing to them as representations of God for the sake of worship. Christians, Jews and Muslims, on the other hand, use only one particular god to approach God – Hindus have no problem with their choice, provided that this Abrahamic god is the most appealing for His worshippers.

Spencer:[95]

Kewal wrote: ‘The fact that you complain about suffering means that you do not yet know God’.
False again. I have mentioned sufferings but not complained about them. I’ve told you God’s purpose in my trials according to James 1:2-4 (NIV).
Kewal: ‘living in the constant joy of God, you no longer interpret it as “suffering”’.
I understand it as pain and trials that are real and not an illusion.
Kewal: ‘Knowing God is a long-term project, it takes lifetimes’.
I agree that it’s a lifelong project, but you and I only have one life: “just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Kewal ‘Since it is nearly impossible to worship God who has no attributes’.
To the contrary, God has many supernatural attributes, including: Independence (aseity), unchangeable in being, infinite, omnipresence, unity, knowable, spirituality, invisibility, omniscience, wisdom, truthfulness, goodness, love, holiness, righteousness/justice, jealousy, wrath, will, omnipotence, sovereignty, perfection, blessedness and beauty (all supported by Scripture).

Kewal:[96]

Spencer: ‘I have mentioned sufferings but not complained about them’.
Yes, you know the theory (as per James 1:2-4), but do you actually live it? Could you honestly say that you have no wish, weakness or preference whatsoever to have this pain and [what you experience as] suffering stop/gone?
Spencer: ‘I understand it as pain and trials that are real and not an illusion.’
Pain is an essential ingredient of the world and of existence, but its sting is only relative to the realness of the world. Knowing God, you realise the illusion that the world is, that the only reality and truth whatsoever, is God.
Spencer: ‘but you and I only have one life: “just as it is appointed for people to die once’.
People die only once, but you are not a [singular] people – you only temporarily assume and identify with a mortal human body, that is not you!
Spencer: ‘To the contrary, God has many supernatural attributes’.
And so it is useful and practical for us to believe as a way of endearment and showing our love to God. Hindus too believe so while suspending the theological understanding that it is impossible for the human mind to conceive of God and that any attribute (natural or supernatural, including existence itself), positive as it may seem, would have placed an unacceptable/ridiculous shackle of limitation on God.
In a way, you could say that the attributes you listed are the reflection of God upon this world, a way to feel God’s presence so long as we hold this world to be true, but then we ultimately need to go beyond and experience God directly, where no words can describe.

Spencer:[97]

Kewal: ‘Could you honestly say that you have no wish, weakness or preference whatsoever to have this pain and [what you experience as] suffering stop/gone?’
With that question you imposed your worldview on me. I pray for God’s will in my sufferings: healing or God’s higher purpose. The Christian Scriptures assure us: ‘Here is what we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it’ (1 John 5:14-15).
Kewal: ‘Pain is an essential ingredient of the world and of existence, but its sting is only relative to the realness of the world. Knowing God, you realise the illusion that the world is, that the only reality and truth whatsoever, is God’.
Not so! Pain is real and so is the world of the heavens and the earth. To claim the world is an illusion and God’s truth is the only reality belongs to one foot planted in the air.

clip_image026Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon

Kewal: ‘People die only once, but you are not a [singular] people – you only temporarily assume and identify with a mortal human body, that is not you!’[98]

When I (singular) breathe my last breath, my mortal body will go to the grave or the crematorium to become dust. My soul goes to be with Jesus: ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21).

Kewal: ‘In a way, you could say that the attributes you listed are the reflection of God upon this world, a way to feel God’s presence so long as we hold this world to be true’.
You have turned my words into what you want them to mean and they are false. God’s attributes relate to his character. They are: (a) The incommunicable attributes of God, e.g. his eternity, self-existence, etc. and (b) communicable attributes, e.g. spirituality, goodness, love, etc.

Kewal:[99]

I am not trying to persuade you, I merely am answering your questions.
Regarding my holy scriptures, when you live in a house of glass it is unwise to throw stones.
Your faith in the world and in your senses seems greater than your faith in God, in the seen more than in the unseen. This is not religion, it is materialism.
Within a few decades we shall both leave this world behind and our senses will turn into dust. For the religious, this is a cause for great joy rather than for sadness, for once we stop craving for the world and its sensory pleasures we will remain with God forever.

Kewal:[100]

That you pray to God in your sufferings is excellent, but completely avoids my question. Have you truly no weakness whatsoever of selfishly preferring to not have pain? If so then you are a saint!
Pain is real only to the extent that the world is real. That the world is an illusion and God’s truth is the only reality is planted securely in scripture, the Upanishads.
The Upanishads delve into the nature of God, His perceived “with-qualities” (saguna Brahman) and the final Truth of their absence (nirguna Brahman). There is much theological material online, but you would find most of it difficult due to the use of Sanskrit terms. I found this excellent and deep discussion here that uses only minimal Sanskrit: http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2008/05/god-as-both-nirguna-brahman-and-saguna.html
An excerpt:

Since we cannot form in our mind any clear and accurate concept of infinity, whatever our mind imagines God to be is not the absolute truth about him. All his divine qualities or attributes, such as his omnipresence, his omnipotence, his omniscience, and his omnibenevolence or all-embracing love, are perfectly true from the limited perspective of our mind, but none of them really define his absolute and infinite reality. His infinite reality transcends all qualities and attributes, and everything that our mind can possibly conceive.

Spencer:[101]

clip_image028Kewal wrote: ‘Pain is real only to the extent that the world is real. That the world is an illusion and God’s truth is the only reality is planted securely in scripture, the Upanishads’.
That’s a sad statement about the irrelevance and lack of truthfulness of the Upanishads.
By following the text of the Upanishads, you are jumping off the cliff of reality into unreality.
No matter which way you try to persuade me, the fact remains that the world in which you and I live can be seen, felt, touched, smelt and digested. It is NOT an illusion. It is real and the Upanishads have a message that doesn’t match reality.
If I were in your presence, both of us would see real persons – not an illusion. Why can’t you admit you’ve been sold a lie?

Kewal:[102]

I am not trying to persuade you, I merely am answering your questions.
Regarding my holy scriptures, when you live in a house of glass it is unwise to throw stones.
Your faith in the world and in your senses seems greater than your faith in God, in the seen more than in the unseen. This is not religion, it is materialism.
Within a few decades we shall both leave this world behind and our senses will turn into dust. For the religious, this is a cause for great joy rather than for sadness, for once we stop craving for the world and its sensory pleasures we will remain with God forever.

Spencer:

I chose not to pursue this conversation because we were spinning the wheels of dialogue. I exposed the untruth of his Hindu beliefs, where they don’t match reality. He would not address this critique but kept returning with the mantra like, ‘Pain is real only to the extent that the world is real. That the world is an illusion….’

I will now examine this extensive dialogue with Kewal to uncover …

Inconsistencies in his Hindu worldview

clip_image030 I have attempted to expose the unbiblical teachings of Hinduism in Section 3. In my interaction with Kewal, you will note further irrationality in this Eastern religion philosophy. I’ll mention only a few of these:

This will be only a partial list of the irrationality of the Hindu worldview from my conversation with Kewal:

clip_image032He opposes those who glorify the objective and deny the subjective.

Is it objectively true that I have a car in my garage and I can drive it on the freeway? Should I depend on my subjective feelings when my wife dies? Is the subjective experience with God more reliable then the God-breathed Scripture?

clip_image032[1]Determinism is not real because the world is not ultimate reality.

This is one point with which I have some agreement. We must not confuse determinism with God’s sovereignty. This world is deteriorating and will one day pass away. It is not ultimate reality because human beings and the universe are destined for new heavens and a new earth (Rev 21 ERV).

clip_image032[2] ‘The ultimate truth is God, that there is nothing but God, that you are God and the world is your playground and you can do with it as you please, but others are also God’. Kewal, the Hindu, claimed

Hitler was correct in claiming that we are not humans, but he believed that some (like Jews) are lower than humans, while I claim that we all are far higher than humans. In fact, calling us “human” is a degrading insult to who (sic) we really are – God!

This is a sweeping and erroneous teaching of Hinduism that is not grounded in reality. People are human beings made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). The Bible teaches we are persons, consisting of body and soul/spirit. Psalm 8:5-8 (NLT) describes the nature of human beings:

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority—
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.

Thus, human beings are ‘a little lower than Elohim’ (v. 5). They are not Elohim/God. The understanding of the nature of God in Hinduism is in conflict with Christian theism.

Hinduism has some parallel with the cult of the Mormons. The Latter-Day Saints understand

all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. Each has an eternal core and is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.”[103] Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people may “progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny.”[104] Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents

over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father’s.[105]

This is based on a distorted view of the nature of God and of human beings. It’s a theology out of the minds of Mormonism.

clip_image032[3]‘God can be known but not understood’.

At face value I accept this statement. God has revealed himself through the Christian Scriptures but they need to be read and interpreted to know and understand God.

clip_image034Moses breaking the tablets with the Ten Commandments, from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle.[106]

The greatest problem I have with that Hindu statement is the nature of God. Christianity and Hinduism do not represent the same God.

Idol worship is forbidden and Christians are told to flee from idolatry. See: Ex 20:3-6; Ex 32:1-6; 34:2; Isa 45:20; 1 Cor 10:7, 14, and 1 John 5:21.

See Luke Wayne’s (2017) article on Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God? He wrote:

clip_image032[4]No, Hindus and Christians do not worship the same God. There is no meaningful correlation between the God of the Bible and any of the millions of Hindu gods, nor can God be identified with Brahman, the ultimate, divine essence of the universe in Hindu thought. They are not only different in name, but also in their core characteristics. Also, the God of the Bible very clearly distinguishes Himself from the gods of the nations. The Triune God of Scripture is not one idol among many local gods, nor is He a generic deity that can be claimed by just any religious expression. The LORD is a very specific God and is not the object of Hindu worship.

‘A person is only a physical object. YOU, however, are not a person nor a physical object’. However, he did admit when I challenged him: ‘Yes, if you wish to go into subtleties, then a person also includes a mind which is not normally considered physical, but is a subtler body of ours which does not completely dissolve when our gross human body dies’.

So he admitted: (a) A person is not a physical object, but (b) a person includes a mind that is a subtler body that doesn’t completely dissolve when our human body dies. So, the human person is not physical and some of it does not die at death.

What a contorted and contradictory statement! What more can I say about the law of noncontradiction. You have it in that statement. It’s a flatly illogical statement. This law of noncontradiction states: ‘A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship’. Or to put it another way, ‘If something is true, then the opposite of it is false’.

Ravi Zacharias, born in India, made this interesting assessment of Eastern philosophies and it applies to Hinduism: ‘Most Eastern philosophers despise the law of noncontradiction, but they cannot shake its life-sized reality. The more they seek to attack the law of noncontradiction, the more it assaults them…. One might as well talk of a one-ended stick as to deny the law of noncontradiction’ (Zacharias 2004:176).

clip_image032[5]‘Your body cannot murder. Your body can kill just as a gun or a hammer can, but no sane judge would prosecute a gun or a hammer’.

The gun would not go off and the hammer would not hit anything unless a human being pulled the trigger and sledged with the hammer.

What illogical nonsense that a human being cannot kill with a gun or do damage with a hammer. That is like saying, ‘Hitler did not kill the 6 million Jews in the gas chambers. It was the gas that did it’. To live a philosophy of such an illusion would cause chaos if practised in Australia. What horrible evils would be perpetrated in the name of ‘human bodies can never murder’.

clip_image032[6]‘For writing this message, my body was obviously only used as a tool by my mind, my keyboard too, so just as it would be insane to claim “my keyboard did it”, the option of “my body did it” can also be safely discarded’.

Again, this is a statement of stupidity. It has its feet firmly planted in mid-air. The fingers on my body are typing this message. That’s the truth. To say otherwise is insane, yet Kewal wants to label my view as insane while it is his that is not grounded in reality.

clip_image032[7]‘The world and time itself are just an illusion’. Welcome to the brave new world where time is not a fact and the world/universe cannot be seen but is an illusion/false impression. I’ve just heard the thunder, saw the lightning, and saw the rain in the storm that has passed over my property. It’s not real, but a fantasy says Kewal, the Hindu.

There are too many holes in the Hindu worldview to attract thoughtful people. Yet many people practise yoga, an ancient Hindu technique for exercise, meditation and visual imagery.

The practice of yoga is much more than a system of physical exercise for health. Yoga is an ancient path to spiritual growth, and originates out of India where Induism [Hinduism] is practiced. The practice and goal of yoga dates back to the Upanishads, written between 1000-5000 BC (History of Yoga).

In the classical yoga tradition, it came from Hinduism. However, modern yoga as practised in the West is from the exercises and poses side and has moved away from its spiritual and religious connections. However, even in modern yoga there can be some chanting (yoga journal: yoga poses).

clip_image032[8]‘The depiction of the nature of human beings is the same in Christian and Hindu Scriptures, but what the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita add is: “Yes, this is indeed the nature of human beings, but WE – YOU and I, only SEEM to be human beings, it is only an illusion’.

Here he goes again with his philosophical proclamation. When I visit my Dr soon for a procedure, I’ll have a great deal of difficulty convincing him that he’s not operating on a human being but is dealing with an illusion.

What is the meaning of ‘physical’? It is ‘relating to the body as opposed to the mind…. Involving bodily contact or activity…. Relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete’ (Lexico.com 2020. s.v. physical’.

What does physical mean to the Hindu? This Hindu website stated:

No one can dispute the fact that, at any given moment, the world in which we live is real. It does exist in some specific form and state, independent of whether we exist or not. It is real in the physical sense. It is also tangible to our senses. We experience its existence in innumerable ways in our minds and through our senses all the time. Right now at this very moment we are in a real world. We cannot say the world is an illusion, unless we have lost our minds literally. This does not mean it is not an illusion. This is the paradox, the real truth, to understand which we have to go deeper into ourselves to discover our true nature and the meaning of self-absorption (The Definition and Concept of Maya in Hinduism).

clip_image036 (image courtesy YouTube)

So, human beings exist as physical beings with minds and senses and the world is not an illusion, but we need to go further into ourselves to discover the ‘real truth … self-absorption. For the Hindu, human beings are physical but their true nature is not physical. That’s violating the law of noncontradiction.

Jesus said to his disciples when he encountered the sick and the diseased. What did Jesus do with this sick man who was ‘an illusion’?

One day Jesus was teaching the people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there too. They had come from every town in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. The Lord was giving Jesus the power to heal people. There was a man who was paralyzed, and some other men were carrying him on a mat. They tried to bring him and put him down before Jesus. But there were so many people that they could not find a way to Jesus. So they went up on the roof and lowered the crippled man down through a hole in the ceiling. They lowered the mat into the room so that the crippled man was lying before Jesus. Jesus saw how much faith they had and said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:17-20).

This was a real, paralysed man and the crowds around Jesus caused the people to lower the man on a mat through the roof. Jesus healed the man and forgave his sins. He did not heal and forgive an illusion that encountered the real truth of self-absorption.

‘To spend either eternal life or eternal damnation, you must at least be eternal, but the human body is not, it goes to the worms. By God’s grace, nor is one’s unrighteousness eternal either’.

Yes, the physical body becomes dust and is eaten by worms. Ecclesiastes 12:7 (ERV) states the theology of death clearly:

‘Your body came from the earth.
And when you die, it will return to the earth.
But your spirit came from God,
and when you die, it will return to him’.

There is more to the human body than flesh that becomes dust and is eaten by worms. The holistic human has a spirit that came from God and returns to God at death.

clip_image032[9]‘The spirit lasts longer than the body, the soul lasts longer than the spirit, but neither lasts forever’.

This is a confusing worldview. I agree that the spirit/soul lives longer than the physical body. That might be what the Hindu Scriptures state but the Bible confirms that at death the spirit/soul goes to God to be judged (Heb 9:27) and the body becomes dust (Eccl 12:7). However, there will be resurrection of the bodies on Jesus return (see 1 Cor 15:42-44 ERV):

It will be the same when those who have died are raised to life. The body that is “planted” in the grave will ruin and decay, but it will be raised to a life that cannot be destroyed. When the body is “planted,” it is without honor. But when it is raised, it will be great and glorious. When the body is “planted,” it is weak. But when it is raised, it will be full of power. The body that is “planted” is a physical body. When it is raised, it will be a spiritual body.

clip_image032[10]It is arbitrary fabrication to state the spirit lasts longer than the body and neither lasts forever when the soul/spirit goes to be with God at death (2 Cor 5:8 ERV) and the new body comes from the grave on Jesus’ return (1 Cor 15:42 ERV).

The Son of God was a Yogi who controlled his mind.

What is a yogi? The person is a practitioner of yoga who may be married or unmarried and may have formal religious ties or no ties.

According to Paramhansa Yogananda, a yogi engages in a definite, step-by-step procedure by which the body and mind are disciplined, and the soul liberated. Taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds, or by faith, a yogi practices a thoroughly tested series of exercises which were first mapped out by the early sages.[107]

In the most well-known Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, it says, “The true renunciate and the true yogi are those who perform dutiful actions without desiring their fruits, not those who, eschewing self-offering, act with ego-motivation, nor those who (in the name of renunciation) eschew action”[108] (The Yogic Encyclopedia).

Jesus did not practise a step-by-step procedure to become a yogi. He existed eternally (John 1:1), became flesh as the son of God and born in a manger after Mary’s miraculous impregnation by the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18-25). He was baptised by John the Baptist and lived a miraculous life on earth. This led to his execution for the sins of the world, under the reign of Pontius Pilate. He was buried but in 3 days rose miraculously from the grave. He was seen for 40 days by his disciples before he ascended back to the Father.

clip_image032[11]These are not the steps or life of a yogi. They demonstrate Jesus’ becoming flesh and dying for the sins of the world – not the work of a yogi. It’s a big stretch to label him as a yogi.

‘Knowing God ends all suffering’.

This is a lie. Try telling that one to Job in the Book of Job who suffered this suffering:

One day Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house. A messenger came to Job and said, “We were plowing the fields with the oxen and the donkeys were eating grass nearby, when some Sabeans attacked us and took your animals! They killed the other servants. I am the only one who escaped to come and tell you the news!”

That messenger was still speaking when another one came in and said, “A bolt of lightning struck your sheep and servants and burned

That messenger was still speaking when another one came in and said, “The Chaldeans sent out three raiding parties that attacked us and took the camels! They killed the other servants. I am the only one who escaped to come and tell you the news!”

That messenger was still speaking when another one came in and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house. A strong wind suddenly came in from across the desert and blew the house down. It fell on your sons and daughters, and they are all dead. I am the only one who escaped to come and tell you the news!”

When Job heard this, he got up, tore his clothes, and shaved his head to show his sadness. Then he fell to the ground to bow down before God and said,

“When I was born into this world,
I was naked and had nothing.
When I die and leave this world,
I will be naked and have nothing.
The LORD gives,
and the Lord takes away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Even after all this, Job did not sin. He did not accuse God of doing anything wrong (Job 1:13-22 ERV).

Then, what did his wife do?

His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your faith? Why don’t you just curse God and die!”

Job answered, “You sound like one of those fools on the street corner! How can we accept all the good things that God gives us and not accept the problems?” So even after all that happened to Job, he did not sin. He did not accuse God of doing anything wrong (Job 2:9-10 ERV)

The New Testament confirms God has a purpose in allowing suffering to continue:

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be (James 1:2-4 ERV).

Suffering is real. I urge any Hindu to go into any hospital in Australia or India and share the message, ‘God ends all suffering’. I hope hospital staff would quickly escort the person off the medical premises.

A time will come when God ends suffering. When will that be? God will not allow the present unjust suffering to continue. Human beings will not annihilate themselves with atom bombs and other warfare. Instead, Jesus will return to earth: ‘He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords’ (Rev 19:16 NET). That’s when suffering will cease.

The Book of Revelation 6-19 explains how God gets rid of everything through worldwide destruction. At that time, suffering and pain will end as God brings in a kingdom of righteousness, justice and fairness.

clip_image032[12]‘Once you know God, life or death, pleasure or pain, are all the same, you no longer care about it either way’.

This is another example of avoiding the issue. When I know God, from a Christian and biblical view, life will continue until death, at which time I’ll enter the presence of God (2 Cor 5:8). It’s avoidance to say pleasure and pain are the same. Pleasure brings contentment; pain comes from some malady or affliction a person experiences.

In his book The View from a Hearse, Joe Bayly tells the story of two men who came to comfort him after the death of his three sons. The first came with answers. He said that God had a plan, that God could work it out for good, and that God would give Joe strength. The second man came simply to sit with Joe. He did not speak unless spoken to, but he prayed with Joe and sat in silence with him. Joe writes that though both men had good intentions, he couldn’t wait for the first man to leave and he couldn’t bear to see the second man go (Ortlund 2020).

clip_image032[13]‘People die only once, but you are not a [singular] people – you only temporarily assume and identify with a mortal human body, that is not you!’

The Christian Scriptures confirm that people die only once and that death is followed by God’s judgment (Heb 9:27). I also agree that I’m only temporarily in a mortal human body – from conception to natural death.

clip_image032[14]However, to say that my natural body that breathes, grows, is productive in employment and ceases life at death is not ‘me’ is nonsense. My body and its consciousness are what constitute Spencer, the person, on this earth.

‘Pain is real only to the extent that the world is real. That the world is an illusion and God’s truth is the only reality is planted securely in scripture, the Upanishads’.

Here the Hindu promotes another example of the law of noncontradiction. Pain in the world is real but it’s not real because the world is an illusion. The law of noncontradiction must be maintained for a conversation to be sensible. Words have meanings. The law of noncontradiction is implicitly assumed in every conversation.

To say that the world is real and the world is not real leads to silence in a dialogue. People are brought to a halt in their dialogues. I experienced frustrations like this in my discussions with Kewal. He constantly made contradictory statements. I had to give up on the conversation as we were going nowhere.

When Hinduism faces reality

It teaches a philosophy and religion that is not grounded in reality but promotes reality as illusions. I recommend listening to:

snowflake-redJourney from Hinduism to Christianity’.

snowflake-redWhy a Hindu priest left the religion’.

snowflake-redHinduism: A Christian perspective’;

snowflake-redWhat Christians should know about Hinduism: Origin, Symbols, and Beliefs’.

 

5.  Works consulted

Brauch, M T 1996. In Hard sayings of the Bible, W C Kaiser Jr., P H Davids, F F Bruce, & M T Brauch. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Brown, C 1978. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Vol 3). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Gleghorn, M 2010. ‘You should come to Hinduism’, Probe Ministries, 11 February. Available at: https://probe.org/you-should-come-to-hinduism/ (Accessed 20 January 2020).

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press (published by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Jayaram V 2000-2019. What is truth? Hindwebsite.com. Available at: https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/essays/whatistruth.asp#bl02 (Accessed 14 August 2019).

Johnson, M D 2015. The Blame Game: Perceptions of Poverty among Hindus and Muslims in India. Papers & Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research (online): Vol. 4, Article 15. Available at https://digitalcommons.northgeorgia.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1134&context=papersandpubs (Accessed 19 January 2019).

Kharas, H; Hamel K; & Hofer, M 2018. The start of a new poverty narrative. Brookings (online), 19 June. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2018/06/19/the-start-of-a-new-poverty-narrative/ (Accessed 15 August 2019).

Lenski, R C H 1936. Commentary on the New Testament: The interpretation of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (this was originally published by Lutheran Book Concern, assigned in 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House. This is a limited edition assigned to Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, second printing 2001).

Long, B 2019. What it is to die. The Barry Long Foundation International (online). Available at: http://www.barrylong.org/statements/what-it-is-to-die.shtml (Accessed 21 January 2020).

Morey, R A 1984, Death and the Afterlife. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers.

Napier, K B 2014. Hinduism – the cause of India’s poverty. Christian Doctrine (online), 8 November. Available at: http://www.christiandoctrine.com/in-the-news/religions/1138-hinduism-the-cause-of-indias-poverty (Accessed 19 January 2020).

Ortlund, G 2020. A deeper look at what the Bible says about pain and suffering. Explore God (online). Available at: https://www.exploregod.com/what-the-bible-says-about-pain-and-suffering-paper (Accessed 22 January 2020).

Piper, J 1985. Why we need a Savior: Dead in sins. Desiring God (online), 8 December. Available at: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-we-need-a-savior-dead-in-sins (Accessed 10 January 2019).

Razvi, S 2014. Vedic contradiction: How the creation came into existence.

Truth about Hinduism (online). Available at: https://vedkabhed.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/vedic-contradiction-how-the-creation-came-into-existence/#more-1192 (Accessed 20 January 2020).

Srinivasan, A V n.d. Core beliefs of Hindus, from Hinduism for dummies (2011). Available at: https://www.dummies.com/religion/hinduism/core-beliefs-of-hindus/ (Accessed 6 February 2019).

Srinivasan, A V 2011. Hinduism for dummies. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Vine, W E 1940. An expository dictionary of New Testament words. London: Opliphants.

Zacharias, R 1990/2004. The real face of atheism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Zacharias, R n.d. Point of exclusion. RZIM (online). Available at: https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/point-of-exclusion (Accessed 20 January 2020).

6.  Notes


[1] Wikipedia 2019. Murti (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murti (Accessed 23 January 2020).

[2] Available at: https://qrius.com/india-is-no-longer-home-to-worlds-most-poor-heres-what-the-brookings-report%EF%BB%BF-says/ (Accessed 15 August 2019).

[3] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/girl-boy-brother-poor-slums-india-2754233/ (Accessed 15 August 2019Z).

[4] Structuralism is ‘a way of studying human culture, for example language, literature, art, or anthropology, that emphasizes the importance of its basic structures and the relationships between its parts’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2020. s.v. structuralism).

[5] Sadhguru 2013. Idols in the Hindu Way of Life – Why Are They Worshipped? (online), 28 January. Available at: https://isha.sadhguru.org/global/en/wisdom/article/what-is-enlightenment-can-spiritual-practices-enlighten-me (Acessed 23 January 2020). Also available at: https://isha.sadhguru.org/au/en/sadhguru (Accessed 23 January 2020).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sadhguru 2019. What is enlightenment? (online). Available at:

[8] An exposition of these core beliefs by a Buddhist on the faculty of a Buddhist University in Thailand is at: https://www.unhcr.org/50be10cb9.pdf (Accessed 19 January 2020).

[9] This explanation was taken from THE MET 150, 2000-2019. Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/140005957 (Accessed 19 January 2020).

[10] However, this material appears to be adapted from Srinivasan (2011).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] op cit Jayaram (2000-2019).

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Eternal and temporal aspects of Hinduism (online). Available at: https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/essays/sanatana.asp (Accessed 20 January 2020).

[18] Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged). Collins World, (1977. s.v. truth).

[19] Brown (1978 3:889-890).

[20] Georgetown University 2020. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Available at: https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/hinduism-on-peace-and-violence

[21] ‘The Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an English translation of the Bible by the World Bible Translation Center (WBTC), a subsidiary of Bible League International. It was originally published as the English Version for the Deaf (EVD) by BakerBooks.

Deaf readers sometimes struggle with reading English because sign language is their first language. The WBTC created a translation to make reading the Bible easier for them. The EVD used simpler vocabulary and shorter sentences. One of the basic ideas that guided the work was that good translation is good communication.

In 2004, a major revision was finished. It uses broader vocabulary. The EVD was left unchanged, so it and the ERV now have different texts’ (ERV: Version Information).

[22] Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/south-east-se-asia/india-art/a/beliefs-of-hinduism (Accessed 20 January 2020).

[23] This interaction is based on a back and forth by Yuyutsu with a Hindu worldview and others on a secular Australian e-journal forum, On Line Opinion. They are comments in relation to the article by Louis O’Neill, Do we have free will? Published on 5 November 2018. Accessed 9 January 2019. My pen name is OzSpen.

[24] For Yuyutsu, I have used the pen name of Kewal, a Hindu name meaning, ‘Only’. See: https://www.onlymyhealth.com/baby-names/meaning-of-name-kewal-1374485543 (Accessed 27 January 2019).

[25] Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 5 November 2018 9:34:36 PM.

[26] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 2:35:18 PM.

[27] I am Spencer, with the pen name of OzSpen. Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 7:08:51 PM.

[28] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 11:21:59 PM,

[29] Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 7 November 2018 9:24:02 AM.

[30] Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 7 November 2018 10:22:00 AM.

[31] Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 7 November 2018 7:40:31 PM.

[32] Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 7 November 2018 8:17:20 PM.

[33] Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 11 November 2018 8:21:25 PM,

[34] Posted by Banjo Paterson, Thursday, 8 November 2018 9:42:35 AM,

[35] Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 9 November 2018 9:38:03 AM.

[36] Posted by thinkabit, Friday, 9 November 2018 5:36:51 PM.

[37] Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 9 November 2018 5:55:48 PM,

[38] Posted by Yuyutsu, Sunday, 11 November 2018 5:17:44 AM.

[39] Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 11 November 2018 8:26:10 PM.

[40] Posted by Yuyutsu, Sunday, 11 November 2018 9:08:36 PM.

[41] Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 12 November 2018 8:22:57 AM.

[42] Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 12 November 2018 9:32:23 AM.

[43] He went under the pen name of Banjo Paterson and was posted by Banjo Paterson, Monday, 12 November 2018 9:11:56 AM,

[44] A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust: Hitler on Propaganda. Available at: https://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/people/DocPropa.htm (Accessed 9 January 2018).

[45] Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 12 November 2018 9:32:23 AM.

[46] Posted by thinkabit, Monday, 12 November 2018 9:18:25 PM.

[47] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 1:14:59 AM.

[48] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 5:03:10 AM.

[49] Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 12:06:28 PM.

[50] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 12:13:57 PM.

[51] Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 7:14:36 PM.

[52] Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 10:50:00 AM.

[53] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 15 November 2018 6:27:49 AM.

[54] Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 15 November 2018 10:22:03 PM.

[55] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 16 November 2018 9:46:28 AM.

[56] Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 16 November 2018 4:01:58 PM.

[57] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 16 November 2018 6:51:17 PM.

[58] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 11:21:59 PM.

[59] Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 16 November 2018 7:07:39 PM.

[60] Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 18 November 2018 8:06:55 PM.

[61] Posted by Yuyutsu, Sunday, 18 November 2018 9:32:16 PM.

[62] Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 18 November 2018 10:01:35 PM.

[63] Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 19 November 2018 9:39:03 PM.

[64] Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 6:36:42 AM.

[65] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 8:37:40 AM,

[66] Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 9:19:41 AM/

[67] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 10:19:33 AM.

[68] This consists of 2 posts, one continued after the other: Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 12:19:48 PM and Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 12:26:45 PM.

[69] Image courtesy HeartValveSurgery.com, 31 October 2007. Available at: https://www.heart-valve-surgery.com/heart-surgery-blog/2007/10/31/broken-sternum-recovery/ (Accessed 23 January 2019).

[70] Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 22 November 2018 4:22:41 PM.

[71] Posted by OzSpen, Saturday, 26 January 2019 8:40:20 AM

[72] Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 6:49:32 PM

[73] Posted by Yuyutsu, Saturday, 26 January 2019 11:40:27 PM.

[74] Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 27 January 2019 11:25:38 AM.

[75] Yuyutsu interacted with me further in the comments to the article, ‘A former dean of St George’s cathedral runs afoul of the evangelicals : Comments’. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20118&page=1 (Accessed 4 February 2019).

[76] Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 21 January 2019 3:54:15 PM.

[77] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 21 January 2019 6:51:09 PM.

[78] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 6:49:32 PM.

[79] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 23 January 2019 8:46:55 AM.

[80] Ibid., Posted by Banjo Paterson, Wednesday, 23 January 2019 8:51:14 AM,

[81] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 23 January 2019 9:55:52 AM,

[82] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 24 January 2019 6:34:04 PM,

[83] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 24 January 2019 8:10:01 PM,

[84] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 25 January 2019 6:46:03 PM.

[85] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 27 January 2019 11:25:38 AM.

[86] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Sunday, 27 January 2019 12:56:15 PM.

[87] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 27 January 2019 8:10:35 PM.

[88] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 30 January 2019 9:17:56 AM,

[89] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 31 January 2019 8:02:23 PM.

[90] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 31 January 2019 8:33:12 PM.

[91] That is not true according to James 1:2-4 as it is addressed to brothers and sisters in Christ.

[92] Op cit., Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 3 February 2019 7:00:23 PM.

[93] Hinduism, 19 January. 300 million Hindu gods – Is it really true? (online). Available at: https://www.sanskritimagazine.com/indian-religions/hinduism/330-million-hindu-gods-is-it-really-true/ (Accessed 23 January 2020).

[94] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 4 February 2019 1:09:40 AM.

[95] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 4 February 2019 7:34:52 AM.

[96] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 4 February 2019 8:36:53 AM.

[97] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 4 February 2019 7:11:12 PM,

[98] Image courtesy Wikipedia 2020. Hinduism (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism#Practices (Accessed 23 January 2020).

[99] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 6 February 2019 8:07:32 AM.

[100] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 5 February 2019 12:21:33 PM.

[101] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Tuesday, 5 February 2019 12:47:00 PM.

[102] Ibid., Posted by Yuyutsu, Wednesday, 6 February 2019 8:07:32 AM.

[103] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.

[104] Ibid.

[105] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (online), Becoming like God. Available at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/becoming-like-god?lang=eng (Accessed 21 January 2020).

[106] Image courtesy Wikipedia 2019. Idolatry (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idolatry (Accessed 23 January 2020).

[107] Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 24, “I Become a Monk of the Swami Order.”

[108] Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 18, “The True Yoga.”.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.

clip_image037clip_image037

Scott Morrison needs to ‘obey God’s message’

2 Oct 2019, 5:35pm

Family sit against a fence holding a sign that reads: "Thanks you Biloela and people around Australia. You give us hope".

ABC News, 2 October 2019, Photo: The family had been living in the central Queensland town of Biloela. (Supplied: @HometoBilo)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in On Line Opinion, 4 September 2019.

What will it take for ScoMo to practise what he preaches? I’ve seen the pictures of him with raised hands in worship in his church on Sunday. I applaud him for worshipping the Lord God Almighty and allowing the mass media cameras to see a demonstration of his faith.

His faith needs more than lifting hands in praise. Australians need to see him practise his Christian faith with Priya, her husband Nadesalingam (Nades), with daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2.

They have become household names as they challenge the deportation orders to return them to Sri Lanka.

The small regional town of Biloela, Qld, wants them to stay. They have integrated well into that region and Nades has been employed in the meat works.

Morrison resists: ‘I do understand the real feeling about this and the desire for there to be an exception but I know what the consequences are of allowing those exceptions’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2019). Based on the 10 Daily report in September 2019,

(Australian Border Force officials) have told the family they need to learn to adjust to what they’re got on Christmas Island because they’re not going to be brought back to the mainland,” Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam told AAP after speaking to the family….

“Priya, she is saying that she came from the war zone and regardless of how difficult it is, she’s able to put up with it.

“But it’s the children that she’s worried about, who were born here”….

It’s expected to be months before a trial decides whether Tharunicaa’s (the youngest child) bid for a protection visa should be accepted by the Australian government. Her parents and sibling have already been denied refugee status (10 Daily).

This is not about ‘real feeling’ towards this family but about a demonstration of real Christianity by Morrison and his Christian colleagues in government.

Both Morrison and I are evangelical Christians. We have this divine responsibility,

‘Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).

This is a special time when ScoMo can act for this family that does not have the political voice, clout or the emotional strength to stand up to the assertions of Peter Dutton that they are not owed protection’ because they ‘are not refugees’.

Morrison claimed ‘they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim’.

Neither would I if I were fleeing persecution. It was reported in the Liverpool City Champion (Narellan, NSW) that ‘Priya told AAP she saw her fiancé and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled. Her entire family now live as refugees in India’.

Prime Minister, it’s time to step up and demonstrate your genuine Christian convictions.

‘Someone might argue, “Some people have faith, and others have good works.” My answer would be that you can’t show me your faith if you don’t do anything. But I will show you my faith by the good I do’ (James 2:18).

Your Bible-based Christian faith will live up to this requirement, ‘’If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you’ (Proverbs 19:17).

The two children of asylum seekers Nadesalingam and Priya.

Photo: The two girls were born in Australia but are not Australian citizens. (Supplied: Tamil Refugee Council)

Morrison’s heartless comment was, ‘They can return to Sri Lanka and they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do. I would hope they do’ (SMH).

Sending people on meagre wages back to Sri Lanka and hoping they’ll make application to come to Australia as everyone else does is not practising Christianity’s Golden Rule: ‘In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you’.

Is that how you want to be treated, Mr Morrison? Do you want this harshness inflicted on you? ‘The prime minister says he cannot “in good conscience” allow a Tamil couple and their Australian-born children facing deportation to stay in Australia’.

That’s not a ‘Christian conscience’ based on the Golden Rule’ and God’s care for the needy.

Now Ray Hadley joins with the Honourable Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, in choofing the family back to Sri Lanka. Why?

“It’s very simple… they lied,” says Ray (on 2GB, 3 September 2019).

“The woman came from Chennai, which is in India. That’s where she set sail from and she’d been living there for an extended period.

“The now-husband had travelled from Sri Lanka to the Middle East on three separate occasions and had returned on three separate occasions”.

ABC News confirmed, ‘He frequently travelled between Sri Lanka, Kuwait and Qatar between 2004 and 2010 for work, during the civil war that ended in 2009’.

Ray: Why was Niya in Chennai? She has made it clear her persecuted family in Sri Lanka had sought asylum in India. The Guardian reported, ‘She initially fled to India, not a refugee convention country and which does not offer protection, with family members’.

Contrary to Ray Hadley’s statement, she was not lying about her circumstances when she left the Indian city of Chennai to seek asylum in Australia. She had fled Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2000 to India, which is not a signatory of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The UNHCR stated although India was not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, India’s national refugee protection framework ‘continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring States and respects UNHCR’s mandate for other nationals’.

In 2018, Mr Dutton intervened to prevent two European nannies (au pairs) from being deported from Australia.

‘”It’s quite clear if you look at the ministerial intervention guidelines, this case [of the Tamil family] meets those guidelines more clearly than the two au pair cases in which the minister [Mr Dutton] acted within hours,” said Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Immigration Department’ (ABC News).

Mr Rizvi was more compassionate towards this family than Morrison, Dutton or Hadley. He told the ABC, ‘We have a clear contest between human decency and appropriate use of the ministerial intervention powers and the minister’s ego’.

Some will be shouting: Keep religion out of politics. That’s impossible to do because all people see life thorough their world views. A world view is like lenses through which we look at reality. Our beliefs about all aspects of life colour our perspective of what happens in the universe.

A Christian world view includes: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ The Scriptures I’ve quoted in this essay demonstrate how the Christian ScoMo, as our national leader, ought to be treating this Tamil family. Instead, his government has put the family through 18 months of trauma, which is hardly a demonstration of Christian kindness.

Glen Campbell’s song comes to mind as I consider what the Coalition government should be doing to the Tamil family,

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

(composers: Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin)

This is what we need from the government led by a Christian Prime Minister.

The Tamil family is in our country so we can act christianly towards them. Prime Minister Morrison, you are a Christian. This is how you can demonstrate your Christianity to this family: ‘God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient’ (Colossians 3:12).

Please intervene immediately. What could be more pointed than this call to you Mr Morrison?

‘Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves…. But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard’ (James 2:22, 25).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 January 2020.

silhouette of people walking in line illustration, European migrant crisis Refugee Asylum seeker Immigration Idomeni, crowd free png thumbnailsilhouette of people walking in line illustration, European migrant crisis Refugee Asylum seeker Immigration Idomeni, crowd free png thumbnailsilhouette of people walking in line illustration, European migrant crisis Refugee Asylum seeker Immigration Idomeni, crowd free png thumbnailsilhouette of people walking in line illustration, European migrant crisis Refugee Asylum seeker Immigration Idomeni, crowd free png thumbnail

Matthew 12:24: Was Jonah in the belly of a whale?

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(Jonah, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

On christianforums.com a poster wrote: ‘Nowhere in the Bible is Jonah’s fish called a “whale”.[1]

It is predictable that someone would object: ‘I beg your pardon?’[2]

Speedwell asked for ‘chapter and verse’.[3]

Since AV1611VET is an avid supporter of the KJV-only view, it was not surprising that he pulled out a KJV verse to try to refute Speedwell:

For the second time:
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
[4]

Speedwell came back with an accurate response:

Mistranslation of the underlying Greek ketos which means “great fish” just like the Hebrew of the OT.[5]

Even though I came into this 2017 thread very late, it had been closed so I could not add the following information.

Was it a whale or sea monster?

The Greek, ho ketos is translated as ‘the whale’ in the KJV. However, the Greek word in Matt 12:40 means a ‘sea monster’ (Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich Greek Lexicon 1957:432), which does not necessarily refer to a whale. So the ESV translates it accurately as a ‘great fish’, the NIV as ‘huge fish’, and the NRSV as ‘the sea monster’. All of these are correct translations of the Greek.

To require this word to be translated as ‘the whale’ goes beyond exegesis of the text.

Works consulted:

Bauer, W, Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[6] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Notes:

[1] Christianforums.com 2017. Speedwell#5764, Proving evolution as just a ‘theory’, 15 December. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/proving-evolution-as-just-a-theory.8028023/page-289 (Accessed 11 January 2020).

[2] Ibid., AV1611VET#5765.

[3] Ibid., Speedwell#5677.

[4] Ibid., AV1611VET#5767.

[5] Ibid., Speedwell#5769.

[6] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’, 4th rev and aug ed, 1952 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2020.

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(photo courtesy Pinterest)

Dr Albert Mohler asked: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?[1]

Hard times come with hard questions, and our cultural context exerts enormous pressure on Christians to affirm common ground at the expense of theological differences. But the cost of getting this question wrong is the loss of the Gospel.

By Dr Albert Mohler Jr, December 18, 2015.[2]


Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

A statement made by a professor at a leading evangelical college has become a flashpoint in a controversy that really matters. In explaining why she intended to wear a traditional Muslim hijab over the holiday season in order to symbolize solidarity with her Muslim neighbors, the professor asserted that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Is this true?

The answer to that question depends upon a distinctly Christian and clearly biblical answer to yet another question: Can anyone truly worship the Father while rejecting the Son?

The Christian’s answer to that question must follow the example of Christ. Jesus himself settled the question when he responded to Jewish leaders who confronted him after he had said “I am the light of the world.” When they denied him, Jesus said, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:19). Later in that same chapter, Jesus used some of the strongest language of his earthly ministry in stating clearly that to deny him is to deny the Father.

clip_image002The modern red star and crescent (a heraldic decrescent) design used as the de facto Emblem of Turkey (courtesy Wikipedia).

Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians worship the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and no other god. We know the Father through the Son, and it is solely through Christ’s atonement for sin that salvation has come. Salvation comes to those who confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). The New Testament leaves no margin for misunderstanding. To deny the Son is to deny the Father.

To affirm this truth is not to argue that non-Christians, our Muslim neighbors included, know nothing true about God or to deny that the three major monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — share some major theological beliefs. All three religions affirm that there is only one God and that he has spoken to us by divine revelation. All three religions point to what each claims to be revealed scriptures. Historically, Jews and Christians and Muslims have affirmed many points of agreement on moral teachings. All three theological worldviews hold to a linear view of history, unlike many Asian worldviews that believe in a circular view of history.

clip_image004Each circle represents: The Father, the Son, and The Spirit. The “Shield of the Trinity” or Scutum Fidei diagram of traditional medieval Western Christian symbolism (image courtesy Wikipedia).

And yet, when we look more closely, even these points of agreement begin to break down. Christian trinitarianism is rejected by both Judaism and Islam. Muslims deny that Jesus Christ is the incarnate and eternal Son of God and go further to deny that God has a son. Any reader of the New Testament knows that this was the major point of division between Christianity and Judaism. The central Christian claim that Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah and the divine Son become flesh led to the separation of the church and the synagogue as is revealed in the Book of Acts.

There is historical truth in the claim of “three Abrahamic religions” because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all look to Abraham as a principal figure and model of faith. But this historical truth is far surpassed in importance by the fact that Jesus explicitly denied that salvation comes merely by being merely one of “Abraham’s children” (John 8:39-59). He told the Jewish leaders who rejected him that their rejection revealed that they were not Abraham’s true sons and that they did not truly know God.

Christians do not deny that Muslims know some true things about God. As a matter of fact, in Romans 1:19-20 Paul explains that all people have some real knowledge of God by general revelation, so that they are without excuse. Speaking at Mars Hill in Athens in Acts 17, Paul argued that even some of the Greeks’ own philosophers and poets gave evidence of a rudimentary knowledge of God — but this was not a saving knowledge, and the Apostle was broken-hearted when he saw the Athenians at worship.

In making her claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, the professor claimed the authority of Pope Francis, and since Vatican II the Roman Catholic Church has become ever more explicit in its teaching that salvation can come without a conscious and explicit faith in Christ. This is simply not an option for evangelical Christians committed to the authority of Scripture alone and to the Gospel as defined in the New Testament.

Francis J. Beckwith, a leading Catholic apologist and philosopher, defended the claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. At one point, Beckwith argued that two people could have differing knowledge of Thomas Jefferson while knowing the same Thomas Jefferson as the third President of the United States. He continued: “In the same way, Abraham and Moses did not believe that God is a Trinity, but St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Billy Graham do. Does that mean that Augustine, Aquinas, and Graham do not worship the same God as Abraham and Moses? Again, of course not.”

But this line of argument evades the entire structure of promise and fulfillment that links the Old Testament and the New Testament. Abraham and Moses could not have defined the doctrine of the Trinity while they were on earth, but they believed that God would be faithful to all of his promises, and those promises were fulfilled only and fulfilled perfectly in Christ. And, going back to John 8:56-58, Jesus said: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad … Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Evangelical Christians understand that, theologically, there is a genetic link between Judaism and Christianity. That is why Christians must always be humbled by the fact that we have been grafted onto the promises first made to Israel. In terms of both history and theology, there is no genetic link between Christianity and Islam. The Qur’an claims that to confess Jesus Christ as the divine Son and the second person of the Trinity is to commit blasphemy against Allah.

Hard times come with hard questions, and our cultural context exerts enormous pressure on Christians to affirm common ground at the expense of theological differences. But the cost of getting this question wrong is the loss of the Gospel. Christians affirm the image of God in every single human being and we must obey Christ as we love all people everywhere as our neighbor. Love of neighbor also demands that we tell our neighbor the truth concerning Christ as the only way to truly know the Father.

We must also understand that the most basic issue is the one Jesus answered with absolute clarity. One cannot deny the Son and truly worship the Father. There is no question that the Muslim is our neighbor, but there is no way to remain faithful to Scripture and the gospel and then claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

For other resources I have written on this topic see:

Flower25 Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God.

Flower25What Does God Care What We Call Him.

Notes:


[1] Available at: http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/12/18/do-christians-and-muslims-worship-the-same-god/ (Accessed 20 December 2015). I am indebted to Dr Mohler for this superb analysis of the differences among the God of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Permission was granted to upload this article by Caleb Shaw, Director of Communications, Office of the President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY on 18 January 2020.

[2] Dr Mohler Jr is the President of The Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville KY, USA.

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Evidence for the afterlife

Can you trust the Bible to give accurate information on life-after-death?

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Cemetery with flowers

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Where will you be one minute after your last breath? How can we demonstrate if there is life after death?

In this brief article, I’ll use some of the tests ancient historians use to check on whether an old document can be trusted.

Captain James Cook vs the Bible

How do we know Capt. Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia in 1770? How do we know Cook

set sail on the first of three voyages to the South Seas, he carried with him secret orders from the British Admiralty to seek ‘a Continent or Land of great extent’ and to take possession of that country ‘in the Name of the King of Great Britain’….

The maps, journals, log books and paintings from Cook’s travels are just some of the State Library’s incredible records of this exciting time’.[1]

Captain James Cook. N. Dance Pinxt. T. K. Sherwin Sculp. (courtesy State Library New South Wales)

snowflake-light-green-small How do we know those maps, journals, log books and paintings are accurate?

snowflake-light-green-small We read his documents and other historical writings, presuming they convey correct information. Are our assumptions naive?

snowflake-light-green-small How do we know those writings are reliable in content?

snowflake-light-green-small We apply the same tests (criteria) to Cook’s journals as we do to the Bible.

Tests for historical documents

John P Meier (1991:167-182) summarised these tests:

FlowerEmbarrassment: A fact or event that appears to cause embarrassment to the theology of the gospel authors is less likely to have been invented by them than a fact or event that bolsters their theology.

FlowerDiscontinuity: A fact or event that does not appear to have had any basis in earlier tradition is less likely to have been invented by the gospel authors than an event that may have been predicated in an earlier tradition.

FlowerMultiple Attestation: A fact or event that appears to have been preserved down multiple lines of independent tradition is more likely to be true than one that is only preserved down a single line.

FlowerCoherence: A fact or event that appears to be consistent with our present understanding of the historical context is more likely to be true than one which appears to be at odds with it.

FlowerRejection and Execution: A fact or event that looks as though it might provide a realistic explanation for the rejection or execution of Jesus is more likely to be true than the more tendentious explanations offered consciously by the gospel authors (e.g. divine providence, the Jews being in league with the devil etc.). (This criterion is less strong as it presumes historicity of the execution to begin with, but given that the execution of Jesus appears to satisfy each of the four previous criteria, it’s based on a fairly solid foundation so far as second-order criteria go.) [courtesy Gary, Eschaton Now 2010].

Meier gave this warning:

Our survey indicates that five suggested criteria of historicity or authenticity are really valuable and deserve to be ranked as primary criteria….

The use of the valid criteria is more an art than a science, requiring sensitivity to the individual case rather than mechanical implementation. It can never be said too many times that such an art usually yields only varying degrees of probability and not absolute certitude. But … such judgments of probability are common in any investigation of ancient history, and the quest for the historical Jesus cannot apply for a special exemption’ (Meier 1991:184).

Apply these tests to what the Bible says about the afterlife

Now we’ll apply these tests to where believers in Christ and non-believers will be one minute after their last breath. Historically, does the Bible confirm life-after-death or do we agree with many Aussies. The National Church Life Survey of 2009 of people across the community found that ‘in 1993, the proportion of people affirming a belief in heaven and in life after death was just over half. In 2009 these figures had declined by only several percent’.[2]

‘A national Essential poll shows 40% of all Australians believe in heaven.  But the crucial figure is that a staggering 51% of those aged 18-34 hold such a belief!  This compares to just 29% of the public who are over 55 years old’.[3]

matte-red-arrow-small Embarrassment: Who witnessed the empty tomb of Jesus? Two women! Women were unreliable witnesses in Jewish culture. See: Josephus: Women unacceptable witnesses. Matt 25:46 states: ‘And they [unrighteous] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life’. ‘Eternal punishment (damnation)’ would be an embarrassment to the Jews.

matte-red-arrow-small Discontinuity is a test that depends on knowing details of Judaism and the early church after Jesus in the first century. Our information is limited so it must be applied with caution. However, 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 (NLT) states our preaching is useless unless Jesus is raised and if there is no resurrection of the dead. Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus where, after death, Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom [heaven] while the rich, ungodly man was in torment in Hades (Luke 16:22-23).

matte-red-arrow-small Multiple Attestation: A similar passage to Matt 25:46 is in Matt 7:13-14; Mark 9:44-48; John 5:29, and Acts 24:15.

matte-red-arrow-smallCoherence: What is the coherence or consistency of Matt 25:46 with John 14:1-4 and 1 Cor 15:53? The John passage confirms that for believers Jesus has prepared a place of ‘many mansions’. For believers, our mortal bodies will be transformed to be immortal at his Second Coming  (1 Cor 15:53). For unbelievers, what will happen after death and at Christ’s return? Revelation 20 explains the Great White Throne judgement of unbelievers. Rev 20:12-13 (NLT) states: ‘I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds’. No unbeliever can run and hide from God’s judgement. There is an afterlife for the godly and ungodly – with two different destinies.

matte-red-arrow-small Rejection and Execution: Matthew 26 records the Jewish plot to kill Jesus, Peter’s denial of Jesus, the high priest and others spat in Jesus’ face, and Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Him. According to Matthew 27, Judas Iscariot hanged himself. Jesus was on trial before Pilate, was mocked by the soldiers, spat on, and a crown of thorns placed on his head. Rejection is written all over this trial and execution, thus affirming one of the historical criteria to demonstrate the New Testament is a reliable set of documents – including on the afterlife. This information would not be expected to be provided if it were not historically reliable.

Method used

In this short article I have attempted to show:

  1. The New Testament is a reliable document, using the 5 tests of historicity.
  2. In this reliable document it is demonstrated there is life beyond the grave for believers in Jesus and for unbelievers.
  3. Therefore, I conclude there is strong evidence to support an afterlife. It is not a leap of faith to accept life-after-death.

For further reading I recommend:

1.  Old Testament:

  • Kaiser Jr., W C 2001. The Old Testament documents: Are they reliable & relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
  • Kitchen, K A 2003. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

2.  New Testament:

  • Barnett, P 2009. Finding the historical Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  • Barnett, P W 1997. Jesus and the logic of history. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.
  • Blomberg, C 1987. The historical reliability of the Gospels. Leicester, England/Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press.
  • Blomberg, C 2016. The historical reliability of the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  • Bruce, F F 1959. The New Testament documents: Are they reliable? Available at: http://minnehahachurch.org/Library/06Writing/NTDocuments-Reliable-Bruce.pdf.

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Works consulted

Meier, J P 1991. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: Volume 1. New York: Doubleday.

 Notes

[1] State Library New South Wales 2020. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. Available at: https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/stories/captain-cooks-voyages-discovery (Accessed 5 January 2020).

[2] NCLS Research: News 2011. A picture of the religious beliefs of the Australian community (online). Available at: http://www.ncls.org.au/default.aspx?sitemapid=6817 (Accessed 5 January 2020).

[3] AIM: The Australian Independent Media Network 2018. What is it with Heaven and Millennials? (online) Available at: https://theaimn.com/what-is-it-with-heaven-and-millennials/ (Accessed 5 January 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 January 2020.

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Controversies from conception to crucifixion

The Annunciation by Murillo, 1655–1660, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

(courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer Gear PhD

It is predictable that controversies will be experienced at many levels of society. In Queensland, the State government sacked the ‘entire scandal-plagued Ipswich council after fraud charges’. Similar action was taken when ‘Logan City Council [was] sacked by Queensland’s Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe’.

Remember the controversies surrounding the sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975 by Governor-General Sir John Kerr?

Cameron Bancroft caught ball-tampering. Image courtesy SportsRush (24 March 2018).

 

Could anyone forget the Australian cricket team’s ball-tampering controversy in the Newlands Test, South Africa in 2018?

A very different controversy

This one involved a scandalous conception, a rejection of the child’s adult occupation by his ethnic leaders, and some contemporary church leaders perpetrating these dissensions. The baby born had an aim for life that was out of this world.

This virgin woman, Mary, in first century Israel was betrothed (engaged) to be married to Joseph, of David’s family line, when the angel Gabriel came to her with an outrageous announcement:

Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to him…. You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end (Luke 1:28, 31-33).

Mary was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. She became so confused she asked the angel how this could happen to a virgin. The angel’s answer was that the Spirit’s power would make sure the baby born would be holy and called the Son of God. The angel also announced her relative Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age (with John the Baptist). The assurance was that God can do anything (Luke 1:35-37).

The controversies of the conception passages regarding Jesus surround: (1) The ministry of angels, and (2) How God could cause a virgin to conceive a child without sexual intercourse?

Angels were created as, the host, ‘Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them’ (Genesis 2:1). There will be resistance to the notion of angels by those who oppose God’s description of the universe that includes the unseen ministry of these beings. Hebrews 12:22 states there are ‘myriads of angels’ – an innumerable number.

What is the job description of unseen angels? This is not from One Magic Christmas. The biblical view is that ‘all angels are spirits who serve. God sends them to serve those who will receive salvation’ (Hebrews 1:14).

Conception controversy

Imagine a first century woman engaged (betrothed) to be married and she became pregnant without intercourse. Also, this pregnancy was not announced about a woman who would give birth in a comfortable house or in a maternity ward of a local hospital. The son of God would be born to a humble woman in a Bethlehem cow shed that was nothing like an Australian dairy farm milking shed. After birth, he was placed in ‘a box where cattle are fed’ (Luke 2:7).

What does it take to understand and believe in the virgin birth of Christ? Protestant theologian, Wayne Grudem’s, assessment was: “Certainly such a miracle is not too hard for the God who created the universe and everything in it — anyone who affirms that a virgin birth is ‘impossible’ is just confessing his [ or her] own unbelief in the God of the Bible” (1994:532).

Retired Episcopalian, theologically liberal bishop, John Shelby Spong, called ‘an aging maverick’, gave an example of Grudem’s appraisal:

There was no biologically literal virgin birth, no miraculous overcoming of barrenness in the birth of John the Baptist, no angel Gabriel who appeared to Zechariah or to Mary, no deaf muteness, no angelic chorus that peopled the heavens to announce Jesus’ birth to hillside shepherds, no journey to Bethlehem, no presentation or purification in Jerusalem, and no childhood temple story….

All that can be stated definitely is that the echoes of the status of illegitimacy appear to be far stronger in the text than the suggestion that Jesus was Mary’s child by Joseph (Spong 1992:157-158).

Spong_Lecture_DM_01.croppedJohn Shelby Spong 2018 (courtesy The Chautauqua Daily)

That is speculation, a la Spong! Out of the mind of Spong, he produced what Grudem explained — a confession of Spong’s unbelief in the God of the Bible (and the universe). He confirmed this when he wrote, ‘No recognized New Testament scholar, Catholic or Protestant, would today seriously defend the historicity of these [birth] narratives [in the Gospels]’ (Spong 1992:44-45). 

Really? It’s too bad Spong didn’t give an even-handed approach to the historicity of New Testament material and recognition of scholars outside of his liberal theological brand.  Even in Spong’s own generation today, an eminent scholar and professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, Dr.Craig Blomberg (1987) provided verification of The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. I’m confident Spong would reject his scholarship because he is an evangelical.

Image result for photo Craig BlombergBlomberg (1987:255), while acknowledging his was “‘a ‘minority report’ among biblical scholars worldwide”, endorsed the historical veracity of the Gospels:

The gospels may be accepted as trustworthy accounts of what Jesus did and said. One cannot hope to prove the accuracy of every detail on purely historical grounds alone; there is simply not enough data available for that.  But as investigation proceeds, the evidence becomes sufficient for one to declare that what can be checked is accurate, so that it is entirely proper to believe that what cannot be checked is probably accurate as well.  Other conclusions, widespread though they are, seem not to stem from even-handed historical analysis but from religious or philosophical prejudice….

It has been argued here that the gospels must be subjected to the same type of historical scrutiny given to other writings of antiquity but that they can stand up to such scrutiny admirably (1987:254-255)

This affirms C S Lewis’s explanation: ‘One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important’ (1970:51).

Extraordinary controversy

If we thought the virgin conception was controversial, it is multiplied many times over when discussing God’s prophetic statement of the nature of that conception and birth. Yes, God can, did and does prophesy events. This happened with the virgin conception. In the Old Testament (OT), prophecy referred to a prophet who received divine revelations, as with Moses and Elijah.

I walked into my local pharmacy to deliver scripts a few days ago when I noticed decorations at the entrance, ‘Joy to the World. I commended the pharmacist for supporting the celebration of the birth of Jesus rather than Santa. What has that to do with predictions?

The prophetic controversies

OT Scriptures have created heated discussions over the centuries relating to Jesus’ birth. One of the most prominent is from:

Isaiah 7:14

The controversies are seen in the comparison of two eminent, contemporary Bible translations, the ESVA and the NRSVA:

Flower8‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (ESVA).

Flower8‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel’ (NRSVA).

There is a Christmas world of a difference between these two translations. Was this prophesied child, who would be called, Immanuel, born to a ‘young woman’ or ‘a virgin’? The difference has considerable implications. If she were a young woman, it does not guarantee that she was a virgin.

What are the problems with the prophetic passage from Isa. 7:14, which is quoted in Matthew 1:22-23 that has caused so much angst among Bible translators and commentators?

1folder There are two different ways to translate the Hebrew almah – virgin or young woman.

2folder ‘Almah’ does not actually indicate virginity. Don’t jump to conclusions about my statement, as there are other ramifications.

3folder The Matt. 1:22-25 passage is clear from the context that Mary was a virgin: ‘Joseph did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And he named him Jesus’ (v. 25).

4folder ‘Almah’ is not precisely equivalent to virgin or young woman. Congruent with many OT passages, many prefer the translation, ‘young woman of marriageable age’. Most, but not all, OT references to ‘almah’ indicate a virgin (Carson 1984:77).

5folder In about 250 BC, the Hebrews completed the translation of the Hebrew OT into Greek, known as the Septuagint (LXX). The translators, for the Hebrew almah, used the Greek word, parthenos, which is used in Matt. 1:23 and Luke 1:27 for Mary the ‘virgin’. However the LXX translation is about 300 years earlier than the gospel writings. Had the meaning, therefore, changed during these three centuries? An additional OT problem is:

Genesis 34:4 indicates that Dinah is a parthenos (LXX). However, the previous verse affirms that she is not a virgin. Why, then, would one want to translate parthenos in Matthew and Luke as virgin instead of young woman? Virgin is the preferred translation in the Gospels because ‘the overwhelming majority of the occurrences of “parthenos” in both biblical and profane Greek require the rendering ‘virgin’” (Carson 1984:78).

6folder To deal honestly with Isaiah 7:14, we need to examine Isaiah 7:1-9:7 as a unit. In context there is a double fulfillment in Isaiah’s day, with God’s judgement against Judah and Ephraim by the Assyrian armies. The second fulfillment is the coming of the promised Immanuel (God with us) to the virgin Mary.

Controversies from religious leaders in Jesus’ lifetime

These are only three examples of the religious who objected to Jesus’ actions.

Image result for clipart Hebrew signJesus’ actions caused anger among the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus and healed a demon-possessed man and the crowds questioned if he was the Messiah: ‘But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart’ (Matt 212:24-25 NLT).

Don Stewart commented:

The miracle was undeniable, for the man was blind and mute as well as demon-possessed. Rather than believe Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious rulers attributed Jesus’ power to the devil. Thus their “official” explanation was that Jesus’ power came from Satan. This was another cause for which they wanted Him dead (Why did the religious leaders want to kill Jesus?)

Image result for clipart Hebrew signThe Jewish religious leaders had corrupted the observance of the Sabbath. Jesus asked his critics, ‘“Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!’ (Mark 3:4-5 NLT).

Jesus’ enemies were in the synagogue and wanted to see if they could accuse him of doing work on the Sabbath. There was a man with a deformed hand there. The man was healed and ‘At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus’ (Mark 3:6 NLT). These religious leaders were persuaded that these actions demonstrated Jesus was not a genuine Messiah because such a person would not violate the Jewish Law this way.

What did Jesus’ enemies now decide to do? ‘At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus’ (Mark 3:6 NLT).

Wherever Jesus went he did much good through his many works, including miracles. However, there were many who opposed him

Image result for clipart Hebrew signOne more example what happened as the time for Jesus’ death approached. Who killed Jesus? This question has been asked over and over for the last 2,000 years. Two groups of people were involved:

  • According to Matt 26:57-67 (NLT), the Jewish leaders called for Jesus’ death. Matt 27:20-26, 31-44 confirms the Jews called for Jesus’ death.
  • However, Matt 27:27-38 states the Romans committed the physical act of capital punishment by crucifixion of Jesus.

This was done so that Romans 5:8 (NLT) could be accomplished, ‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners’.

What’s the big deal for Aussies at Christmas 2019?

Doubters are out there in droves among ordinary people and scholars. Who wants to be associated with a mob of literalists like me, who allegedly concoct a story about a miraculous birth and have perpetrated it for thousands of years?

John Dominic Crossan (1994:17), fellow of the infamous Jesus Seminar, deconstructed the meaning of the virgin birth. This was his reasoning:

The prophecy in Isaiah [7:14] says nothing whatsoever about a virginal conception. It speaks in Hebrew of an almah, a virgin just married but not yet pregnant with her first child. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures the term almah was translated as parthenos, which in that context meant exactly the same thing — namely a newly married virgin (emphasis in original).

If it doesn’t refer to the virgin birth, to what does it refer? Crossan stated:

I understand the virginal conception of Jesus to be a confessional statement about Jesus’ status and not a biological statement about Mary’s body. It is later faith in Jesus as an adult retrojected mythologically onto Jesus as an infant…. He is not necessarily the firstborn child of Joseph and Mary. He could just as easily be their youngest (1994:23).

Crossan’s theology is radically removed from that of biblical Christianity. He vanquishes anything that reads like a literal interpretation. However, I wouldn’t dare read his many publications (which I’ve read) the way he interprets the Bible. Christianity is in freefall in the writings of Dom Crossan.

The truth of the Christ child matters because the one who came as a sinless baby (not impregnated by sinful Joseph) was here to live and to shed his life’s blood to provide cleansing for sin. Remember he was a Jew who followed the Jewish law for forgiveness of sin – shedding of blood.

The Jesus’ difference

One born through sexual intercourse between a sinful man and a sinful woman produced sinful offspring. Jesus Christ ‘didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us’ (2 Cor 5:21).

The Bible expressly declares that Jesus was sinless. As a high priest he is able to intercede with God on behalf of people because ‘he is holy, pure and without blame. He isn’t like other people. He does not sin. He is lifted high above the heavens’ (Hebrews 7:26).

At the birth of Jesus, Mary was assured by the angel, ‘The holy one that is born will be called the Son of God’. ‘Holy’ means to be separate and cut off from all that is sinful. God, the Son, cannot tolerate sin but he came to earth as a baby who grew into an adult and was crucified for the sins of the world.

Why should that interest us in Australia for Christmas 2019? Why should the Santa and the reindeer be replaced by a manger scene at Christmas? He brought ‘Joy to the World’ if people are open to receive it.

For Christmas we again celebrate, ‘Oh Holy Night’.

 

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 December 2019.

Image result for clip art nativity lines Mantle clip art christmas mantle with nativity scene image

 

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Fitz Files Fail

 

Related image

[image of Margaret Court (nee Smith) courtesy Wikipedia] 

This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, 25 November 2019.

Fitz, your article against Margaret Court (The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 2019, Opinion piece) failed fundamental tests of fairness. These include: Your intensely unpleasant homophobic remarks.

When will you and your mass media colleagues ever get a handle on the meaning of ‘homophobic’?

The Lexico/Oxford Dictionary describes homophobic as, ‘having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people’ (Lexico.com 2019. s.v. homophobic).

The Macquarie Dictionary relates homophobia to those who have a ‘fear of homosexuals, usually linked with hostility towards them’ (1997. s.v. homophobia).

Does Margaret Court fear or dislike homosexuals?

Fitz, why your hullabaloo about Margaret Court being homophobic? She rebutted your view in an interview with Vision Christian Radio (31 May 2017) when she stated: ‘I’ve got nothing against homosexual people as individuals. But my stand for my Christian beliefs is for marriage the Bible way’. 7News reported: ‘Margaret Court has said, I love them [homosexuals], I have them in the church‘.

Based on the dictionary definitions, Margaret Court is not homophobic. She presents God’s view of marriage between a man and a woman and not between two people of the same sex.

Jesus confirmed the Genesis teaching in Matthew 19:4-6. A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. It does not say he will be joined (sexually) with another male. Margaret Court is correct in affirming the biblical view of sexuality in marriage. She is not homophobic but a promoter of God’s view, heterosexuality.

Talks between Israel Folau and Rugby Australia on his compensation claim will resume on Wednesday.Another sports’ star accused of homophobia is Israel Folau, pictured here with his wife, Maria (photo courtesy Lakes Mail).

See ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, Israel Folau to be sacked by Rugby Australia over homophobic comments, 11 April 2019.

Fake news by Fitz

Infographic How to spot fake news published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (courtesy Wikipedia)

Again you presented fake news about Court’s beliefs. Fake news is ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. fake news).

You presented sensational false news about Court’s views when she stated ‘I love them (homosexuals)’. You created a homophobic, irrational understanding with your allegations against this former champion tennis player.

What was Margaret Court’s motive in her stand against homosexual marriage?

The Statement of Faith of Victory Life Centre, Perth, states: ‘That Marriage, according to Scripture is between a man and a woman; that man and woman are joined to become one flesh. God created man in His own image, male and female instructing them to be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24).

Accusation of Court’s double-standards

Margaret, remember a couple years ago you were ‘citing the Bible’ to proclaim the ‘only legitimate love is that between a man and a woman’. In doing this you asserted ‘those with a different sexuality to you are not your equal’.

These are your hypocrisies: You want the Bible to be your standard for marriage but you don’t use the Bible for your standard on teaching for women in ministry. I know this straight from the Bible you quote.

Fitz flunks the test

Here’s the real crunch for you Margaret: ‘Seeing as the Bible seems to be the only reference point you recognise … I feel I must cite St. Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 2:12; Ephesians 5:22; and 1 Corinthians 11:3-10’.

Fitz, if you were a student in one of my (Spencer Gear’s) courses at Bible College and gave your expositions of these three passages as you have done here, you would fail the exam. You didn’t come up to the standard because you, an atheist,could not achieve …

  • Proper exegesis of the texts. You cherry picked verses, allegedly against female teachers, without exposition. FAIL !
  • Your citation of 1 Cor 11:3-10 includes both husband and wife who prophesy (vv 3-4). Prophecy cannot happen without words and you didn’t explain what headship means and how women can prophesy in the public gathering of the church. FAIL !
  • Eph 5:22-23, ‘For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church’. What on earth does that have to do with women in ministry? Again, it requires you to expound the meaning of headship. You didn’t. FAIL !
  • 1 Tim 2:12 has caused angst among Bible scholars for 2,000 years because of the unusual word for authority, authentein, used only this one time in the entire New Testament. It has the connotation ‘to domineer’ and in context probably reflects the role of women in promoting errors of the false teachers in Ephesus, where Timothy was located. You provided none of this information. FITZ FAILS !

Related imageElsewhere the Apostle Paul affirmed the ministry of teaching by men and women. See 1 Cor 14:26 and Colossians 3:16-17. There was none of this information in your article. Seems to me you deliberately set out to denigrate Margaret Court’s view of Scripture, her alleged hypocrisy in supporting heterosexual marriage while violating the Bible’s view of women as teachers.

Fitz forgot fundamentals

The Christian faith is built on every-member ministry. It was declared on the Day of Pentecost: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants-men and women alike-and they will prophesy (Acts 2:17-18).

The same Apostle Paul who wrote the words in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Timothy also wrote Galatians 3:28, ‘There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus’.

He also wrote: ‘The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ’ (1 Cor 12:12).

Jesus’ death and resurrection broke down the former barriers for women.

Your deconstructionist, reader-response interpretation

Would you want me to read your article the way you interpret Margaret Court’s statements? She stated she loves homosexuals and has them in her church. Your assessment is that Margaret is ‘a homophobic zealot’. Margaret stated clearly what she meant. Fitz twisted this in true deconstructionist, reader-response style.

Deconstruction can be slippery to define but it briefly means that Fitz writes about Mrs Court but she doesn’t mean what we think she means in promoting heterosexuality. You went searching for other meanings as a deconstructionist as ‘other meanings are always there’. That’s not the way I read The Sydney Morning Herald or Manning Clark’s, The History of Australia.

(image courtesy The Public Domain)

Reader-response is a postmodern, deconstructionist approach to reading literature where meaning does not reside in the text. ‘Words in a text evoke images in readers’ minds and readers bring their experiences to this encounter. Because individuals have different life experiences, it is almost certain that no two readers or reading sessions will form the exact same interpretation of a text’.

You deconstructed Margaret’s meaning and imposed your interpretation as a reader on what she wrote.

Let me try this approach with your article:

At Tennis Australia (TA) we have no religious views whatsoever, and welcome everyone. That’s what TA would like to say but we have a commitment to equality that excludes fundamentalist Christians, as your statements demonstrate. Intense feelings arise in TA members towards you, Margaret Court. You have brought disrepute on TA with your bigotry towards the LGBTI+ community.

Fitz, would you approve of my promoting that view, based on your article? Of course not, but that’s what you’ve done with putting words into Margaret Court’s mouth about the LGBTI+ community not being equal with the straights and the way she ‘trashed the gays’. This is Fitz deconstructing Mrs Court with his reader-response interpretation.

Wake up, Fitz. You don’t know the Scriptures you prepared to promote PC, fake, reader-response news to disparage Margaret Court’s statements. Based on how you have ruined the reputation by fake news of Margaret Court, I can’t read your articles with confidence that you tell the truth.

I call upon you to promote the accurate meaning of homophobic. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as ‘involving a fear or dislike of gay people’ (2019. s.v. homophobic).

Margaret Court, based on her own statements, does not fear or dislike gay people. She loves them and has them in her church, Victory Life Centre, Perth – so is not homophobic.

Telling The Truth Clipart Image(image courtesy clker.com)

 

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 December 2019.

Baptism and Salvation: I Peter 3:21

baptists tarrytown united methodist church

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. Does baptism bring eternal salvation?

It seems as though this issue is clear – people need to be baptised to receive salvation. The Scriptures state that: “Baptism that now saves you….” (I Peter 3:21 NIV) and Jesus states, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16 NIV).

This sounds clear enough, doesn’t it? In fact, I was interacting with Andy (not his real name) on a theological bulletin board. He stated: “Recent theology cannot make the truth of 1 Peter 3:21 go away – Baptism now saves you. This is a great and precious promise. Christians throughout all ages have found great comfort in that fact that their salvation did not rest on them, but on God who had chosen them through baptism. I do believe in baptismal regeneration and in infant baptism.”[1]

Baptismal regeneration is the theology that states “that baptism is necessary for salvation.” This view is supported by “Roman Catholic teaching…. Although there are different nuances in their teaching, such a position is held by many Episcopalians, many Lutherans, and by the Churches of Christ”(Grudem 1999, n10, p. 384).

baptism-now-saves-youDoes 1 Peter 3:21 (NIV) teach baptism as a necessity for salvation, i.e. baptismal regeneration? The verse states: “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[2] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

The ESV reads: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Mark 16:16 (NIV) states, as the words of Jesus, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

Let me say up front that I Peter 3:21 (NIV) is a difficult verse to interpret because of the content of the context (1 Pet 3:18-22 NIV):

· It is a challenge to know exactly what Peter is saying in connecting “save” with the waters of Noah’s flood;

· Elsewhere in the Scripture we know that salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone (Acts 4:12 NIV; Eph 2:8-9 NIV);

· In other places, the Bible teaches salvation and repentance prior to baptism (Romans 3:22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30; 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9);

· Some verses used to support baptismal regeneration have better explanations.

2. Mark 16:16 does not teach baptismal regeneration

This verse is fairly easily dealt with on two counts:

clip_image001 Mark 16:9-20, the long ending of Mark, is not included in the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament, so I am confident in not including it as part of the canon of Scripture. Mark 16:16 was a teaching that crept into the early church, but it is not original to Mark. See the explanations by Bruce Metzger (1964/1968/1992, pp. 227-228) and Walter W. Wessel (1984, pp. 792-793) in Appendix I.

clip_image001[1]Mark 16:16 states that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” There is nothing in this statement about those who believe and are not baptised. In fact, this we do know that Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross, who did not have an opportunity to be baptised: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). “It is simply absence of belief, not of baptism, which is correlated with condemnation” (Erickson 1985, p. 1098). Grudem (1999) contends that

it is doubtful whether this verse [Mark 16:16] should be used in support of a theological position at all, since there are many manuscripts that do not have this verse (or Mark 16:9-20), and it seems most likely that this verse was not in the gospel as Mark originally wrote it (n11, p. 384).

We also know that a Christian’s justification by faith, when he/she is declared righteous before God, happens at the point of faith in Christ and not at the time of baptism (see Rom. 3:20, 26, 28; 5:1; 8:30; 10:4, 10; Gal. 2:16; 3:24).

We’ll get to 1 Peter 3:21 shortly, but it is important to note that

3. The Bible teaches belief BEFORE baptism

We see belief or trust in Christ prior to baptism in passages such as the following:

clip_image003Those who were baptised must be able to be discipled and taught to be obedient to Christ’s commands (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV).

clip_image005One of the most profound examples is the thief on the cross. In Luke 23:42-43 (ESV) we read of the thief asking Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus’ response was: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Obviously baptism was not compulsory for a person to enter into paradise.

clip_image007Acts 2:38 (ESV) gives the apostolic command: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

clip_image009Acts 2:41 affirms that belief precedes baptism: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

clip_image011In Acts 10:47-48, those who were baptised were those who had “received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” This is hardly the language to support baptism for an infant. It is the language of believers’ baptism.

Old Testament believers were saved without being baptised. Therefore, we should expect that salvation, without baptism, is seen in the New Testament.

Church historian, Earle E. Cairns, stated that for the early church, baptism was “an act of initiation into the Christian church [and] was usually performed at Easter or Pentecost…. Baptism was normally by immersion; on occasion affusion, or pouring, was practiced. [There was the debate over] infant baptism which Tertullian opposed and Cyprian supported….” (Cairns 1954/1981, p. 119).

It was Martin Luther who rediscovered that “the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17 KJV) or, “The righteous will live by faith” (NIV), which is a quote from Hab. 2:4. This is affirmed by Rom. 4:4-5; Titus 3:5-7 and Acts 16:31. The Scriptures do not support the view that the just shall live by faith and baptism. It could not be stated any cleared in Eph. 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

4. Household baptisms

Sometimes the view is given that “I Corinthians 1:16; Acts 11:14, 16:15, 33, 18:8; these passages all refer to households being baptized. What an opponent of infant baptism must do is explain how they arrive at the conclusion that there were no infants or young children in these households. If infants were not intended to be baptized they would be excluded in the text, but we have no reason to believe that they are. In short there is nothing to exclude infants from baptism in the Bible.” This was Andy’s view when I interacted with him on a seminary bulletin board.[3]

Let’s examine these examples provided by Andy.

clip_image013“Household” baptism that was used by him to support infant baptism – 1 Cor. 1:16, which reads, “I did baptize also the household of Stephanas.” If we read that verse alone we could be led to think that this included infants and those who had not believed and these people could be members of households.

However, this is clarified in 1 Cor. 16:15 where we read that “the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.” This verse clearly supports the opposite of infant baptism. They were Christian converts when they were baptised. They were not infants who were incapable of believing. They were converts to the Christian faith. Faith comes before baptism.

clip_image013[1]Acts 11:14 reads: “He [Peter] will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”

This is clear. The “message” will be brought through which the “household will be saved.” The baptism referred to is not water baptism but the baptism in the Holy Spirit (11:16).

clip_image013[2] Acts 16:15 records what happened with Lydia who was “a worshiper of God” and “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (16:14). Chapter 16:15 records, “When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.’ If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.”

It is clear here that Lydia was a believer (“the Lord opened her heart”) when she was baptised as she affirms, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord.” It is not stated directly here that the “household” believed, but the precedent is set elsewhere in the Scripture that “households” that were baptised had previously believed. This is also consistent with the New Testament principle that faith alone in Christ alone is what brings eternal salvation.

clip_image013[3] In Acts 18:8, we have another example of “household” baptism. This verse states that “Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.”

Again, baptism happens after belief in the Lord is experienced and this applies to believing “households.” Therefore, infant belief is not possible.

5. First Peter 3:21

This verse states, “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[4] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (NIV).

Let me state upfront that this is a most difficult verse to interpret because of the analogy of Scripture which refutes what this verse seems to be saying on the surface, “baptism that now saves you also.” This is especially in light of Colossians 2:12 “…. having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” The key is “your faith in the power of God” and not through faith in water baptism. That’s what makes interpretation of 1 Peter 3:21 a challenging task.

Remember Andy’s words to me? “Baptism now saves you. This is a great and precious promise” and that Christians through the centuries have been comforted by the “God who had chosen them through baptism. I do believe in baptismal regeneration and in infant baptism.”[5]

What are the issues from this verse that seem, on the surface, to teach that “baptism now saves you”?

5.1 What is the context?

In vv. 18-19, the context is the death of Christ for sins, the “righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (v. 19), the resurrection (“made alive by the Spirit”, v. 18), and Noah, the ark, and eight people being saved through the flood (v. 20).

It is this flood that is used in some association with baptism.

5.2 What does it means that “water symbolizes baptism”?

The word translated, “symbolizes,” in the NIV is the Greek, antitypos. “Baptism is an antitype…. or counterpart of the type” (Blum 1981, p. 242). An antitype is ‘a person or thing that represents the opposite of someone or something else’ (Lexico/Oxford Dictionary 2019. s.v. antitype).There is some kind of resemblance between the waters of the flood and baptism. What is it? Baptism is a copy, representation or fulfillment of the Old Testament judgment that happened through the great flood.

The text allows for a resemblance between the flood and baptism. That is, as the flood waters cleansed the earth of man’s wickedness, so the water of baptism indicates man’s cleansing from sin. As the flood separated Noah and his family from the wicked world of their day, so baptism separates believers from the evil world of our day. Baptism, then, is the counterpart of the flood (Kistemaker 1987, p. 147).

5.3 In what sense can baptism be understood as that which “saves you”?

Does baptism bring salvation to the person baptised? In what sense can “save” be used here? We know from both Old and New Testaments that sins can be washed away.

  • Psalm 51:2, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
  • Ezekiel 36:25, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”
  • Ananias told the apostle Paul to “get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
  • Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

How can baptism save?

Baptism is a symbol for cleansing the believer from sin, but Scripture does not teach that baptismal water saves a person. Rather, a believer is saved because of Christ’s atoning death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave (Rom. 6:4). Baptism is a symbol of the shed blood of Christ that cleanses the believer from sin” (Kistemaker 1987, p. 148).

This becomes clear through the next statement that baptism is “not the removal of dirt from the body.” That’s an obvious analogy to reject. But baptism is “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.”

5.4 How is baptism related to “the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (NIV)?

There are two ways of understanding, “pledge,” subjective, as in the NIV, or objective, as in the ESV, “as an appeal to God for a good conscience.”

As in the NIV, the subjective meaning of “pledge” is that “we look at baptism from our point of view and express ourselves subjectively.” There is a majority of translators who prefer the subjective approach, where “pledge” means “response.”

“In short, the believer receives not only the sign of baptism with water; he also responds by ‘keeping a clear conscience’ (see v. 16)” (Kistemaker 1987, p. 148). This kind of translation is supported by the KJV, NKJV, RV, ASV, NEB, Phillips, GNB, JB, NAB and NIV. So, baptism is the proper response of somebody who is already related to God through faith.

The objective meaning is that of the believer making an “appeal to God for a good conscience.” By appealing to God to help us, “we see the importance of baptism objectively. Without God’s aid we are unable to make a pledge to serve him” (Kistemaker 1987, p. 148). This type of translation is supported by the RSV, NRSV, ESV, MLB, NASB, Moffatt and ISV.

In supporting the objective sense, Grudem (1994) interprets “but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience” to mean “an inward, spiritual transaction between God and the individual, a transaction symbolized by the outward ceremony of baptism.” Grudem states that

we could paraphrase Peter’s statement by saying, “Baptism now saves you—not the outward physical ceremony of baptism but the inward spiritual reality which baptism represents.” In this way, Peter guards against any view of baptism that would attribute automatic saving power to the physical ceremony itself (p. 974).

This seems the most satisfactory kind of explanation of a very difficult passage, to be in line with the scriptural emphasis of salvation through faith alone, trusting in Christ alone.

5.5 How can baptism that “saves you” be linked to “saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”?

This further indicates that the baptism which “saves you” is associated with the “the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Thus, it is an analogy of baptism, associating it with eternal salvation through Christ, through the resurrection of Christ. See verses such as 1 Cor. 15:3-4 and 1 Peter 1:3 for affirmations of the link between salvation and the death and resurrection of Christ.

6. What does Acts 22:16 mean?

The verse, being the words of Ananias, reads, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” This is a more extensive statement than that in Acts 9:16. However, according to Acts 9:17, the “scales fell from his eyes” (the equivalent of belief) before he was baptised (9:18).

So, does baptism “wash your sins away,” thus making belief unnecessary? Is this a verse in support of baptismal regeneration?

While Acts 22:16 refers to Paul’s baptism, the apostle clearly distinguished between the gospel and baptism: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17).

It is the gospel that “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:17), so baptism cannot have a salvific effect. Paul’s experience from Acts 9:17-18 involved a spiritual experience before baptism, so to “be baptized and wash your sins away” (Acts 22:16) cannot refer to baptismal regeneration.

Norman Geisler rightly concludes that “baptism then, like confession, is not a condition for eternal life but a manifestation of it. Baptism is a work that flows from the faith that alone brings salvation through the gospel” (2004, p. 498).

7. Examples from Church History

An example from the early church fathers was Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165), who wrote: “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true,… are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated [born-again] in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated” (Schaff, n.d., First Apology, Chapter LXI).

The regenerated were baptised according to Justin Martyr in the second century.

Professor of Church History & Historical Theology, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, summarised the biblical and historical evidence:

The patristic statements linking infant baptism with the apostles are fragmentary and unconvincing in the earlier stages…. Examples of believers’ baptism are common in the first centuries, and a continuing, if suppressed, witness has always been borne to this requirement…. The development of infant baptism seems to be linked with the incursion of pagan notions and practices. Finally, there is evidence of greater evangelistic incisiveness and evangelical purity of doctrine where [believers’ baptism] is recognized to be the baptism of the NT (Bromiley 1984, p. 116).

The facts are: The Bible (including the Apostles) and the Church established in the New Testament practised believers’ baptism. Why the change to paedobaptism?

This is not the place for a comprehensive documentation and assessment of the baptismal practices throughout church history. However, this we can note:

During the fifth century the towering figure of Augustine of Hippo with his powerful reassertion of the doctrine of original guilt settled the issue for a thousand years. Paedobaptism became the norm, and as by then the great expansion of the church among adults had run its course, adult baptism became increasingly rare and almost unknown. With the decline of adult baptism went, too, the decline of the catechumenate, as instruction before baptism was replaced, of necessity, with instruction after baptism. Yet that instruction became increasingly strange to modern ears. For although baptized infants grew up believing that their baptism had brought them forgiveness, eternal life, membership of the church and entry into the family of God, their position in that family became increasingly insecure. In time, a vast system of priests, penances and pilgrimages was needed to preserve their spiritual lives, while even after the intercession of saints, the assistance of Mary, the prayers of the church and the indulgences of the pope, centuries in purgatory still awaited them after death before their souls were cleansed from sin and prepared for heaven” (Bridge & Phypers 1977, pp. 82-83).

8. Appendix I

8.1 Bruce Metzger

Bruce Metzger, who has had a long and distinguished career in the discipline of textual criticism, which attempts “to determine the original text of the biblical books” (Erickson 1985, p. 83), states that:

The long ending [of Mark 16:9-20] in an expanded form existed, so Jerome tells us, in Greek copies current in his day, and since the discovery of W earlier this [20th] century we now have the Greek text of this expansion….

None of these four endings commends itself as original. The obvious and pervasive apocryphal flavour of the expansion [i.e. the long ending]…, as well as the extremely limited basis of evidence supporting it, condemns it as a totally secondary accretion.

The long ending [i.e. Mark 16:9-20, as in the Textus Receptus and, therefore, translated in the King James Version of the Bible], though present in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary. For example, the presence of seventeen non-Marcan words or words used in a non-Marcan sense; the lack of a smooth juncture between verses 8 and 9 (the subject in vs. 9 is the women, whereas Jesus is the presumed subject in vs. 9); and the way in which Mary is identified in verse 9 even though she has been mentioned previously (vs. 1) – all these features indicate that the section was added by someone who knew a form of Mark which ended abruptly with verse 8 and who wished to provide a more appropriate conclusion. An Armenian manuscript of the Gospels, copied A.D. 989 (see Plate XIVb) contains a brief rubic of two words in the space at the end of the lat line of verse 8 and before the last twelve verses, namely Ariston eritsou (‘of the Presbyter Ariston’). Many have interpreted this as a reference to Ariston, a contemporary of Papias in the early second century and traditionally a disciple of John the Apostle. But the probability that an Armenian rubricator [manuscript maker] would have access to historically valuable tradition on this point is almost nil, especially if, as has been argued, the rubric was added in the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

The internal evidence of the so-called intermediate ending . . . is decidedly against its being genuine. Besides containing a high percentage of non-Marcan words, its rhetorical tone differs totally from the simple style of Mark’s Gospel. The mouth-filling phrase at the close (‘the sacred and imperishable message of eternal salvation’) betrays the hand of a later Greek theologian. [See Appendix II for a translation of this “intermediate ending.”]

Thus we are left with the short ending, witnessed by the earliest Greek, versional, and patristic evidence. Both external and internal considerations lead one to conclude that the original text of the Second Gospel, as known today, closes at xvi. 8″ (Metzger 1964/1968/1992, pp. 227-228).

8.2 Walter W. Wessel

External and especially internal evidence make it difficult to escape the conclusion that vv. 9-20 [of Mark 16] were originally not a part of the Gospel of Mark.

One further question arises: Did Mark actually intend to end his Gospel at 16:8? If he did not, then either (1) the Gospel was never completed, or (2) the last page was lost before it was multiplied by copyists….

Thus the best solution seems to be that Mark did write an ending to his Gospel but that it was lost in the early transmission of the text. The endings we now possess represent attempts by the church to supply what was obviously lacking” (Wessel 1984, pp. 792-793).

9. Appendix II

The intermediate ending is translated by Metzger: “But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” Metzger stated that this intermediate reading “is present in several uncial manuscripts of the seventy, eighth and ninth centuries…. as well as in a few minuscule manuscripts…. and several ancient versions” (1964/1968/1992, p. 226).

10. Works consulted

Blum, Edwin A. 1981, ‘1 Peter’, in Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 12), Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 207-254.

Bridge, D. & Phypers, D. 1977, The Water That Divides: The Baptism Debate, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Bromiley, G. W. 1984, ‘Baptism, Believers”, in W. A. Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.

Cairns, E. E. 1954, 1981, Christianity through the Centuries (rev. enl. ed.), Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.

Erickson, Millard J. 1985, Christian Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Geisler, Norman 2004, Systematic Theology: Sin, Salvation (vol. 3), Bethany House , Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Grudem, Wayne 1994, Systematic Theology: An introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England.

Grudem, Wayne 1999, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England.

Kistemaker, Simon J. 1987, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and of the Epistle of Jude, Evangelical Press, Welwyn, Hertfordshire.

Metzger, Bruce M. 1964, 1968, 1992, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.

Schaff, P. n.d., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus‘, Polycarp, ‘Christian Baptism’, Available from: http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/anf01/htm/viii.ii.lxi.htm [17 March 2005].

Wessel, Walter W. 1984, ‘Mark’, in Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 8), Regency Reference Library (Zondervan Publishing House), Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 601-793.

11. Notes


[1] Jeremy Jack’s response to OzSpen, “Christian History Project,” Open Issues, Trinity College of the Bible & Theological Seminary, TDelta forum, 12.51 am, 12 March 2005, at: http://go.compuserve.com/Trinity?MSG=116364 [17 March 2005].

[2] Or, “response.”

[3] Trinity Seminary’s TDelta forum, ‘Christian History Project’, (Open Issues), Jeremy Jack’s response to OzSpen, 11.25 am, 11 March 2005, Available from, http://go.compuserve.com/Trinity?MSG=116354 [17 March 2005]. As of 9 October 2019, this forum was no longer available to me to interact.

[4] Or, “response.”

[5] See footnote no. 1 above.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 November 2019.

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