Category Archives: World Religions

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

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.

Image result for clipart single color lines

‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Image result for clipart Inclusiveness

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

Rugby ball vector clip artPeter 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”.

Rugby ball vector clip artTwo 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’.

Rugby ball vector clip artBeattie 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’

Dictionary clipartsThe 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’.

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

Dictionary clipartsThe 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.

4. Conclusion

With both the NRL and ARU, 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 both the NRL and ARU 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.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 November 2019.

Is reincarnation taught in the Bible?

(Reincarnation in Hindu Art, image courtesy Wikipedia)

Spencer D Gear PhD

It is not unusual to encounter people (Christians) on Christian forums who claim they believe in reincarnation and state they are Christians. They try to defend their views from reinterpretation of Scriptures such as Hebrews 9:27.

1.  What is reincarnation?

Reincarnation refers to the indestructible soul, but not in the presence of the Lord God Almighty.

The Western definition of death is known as “the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity”. Although this is true to define the end of someone’s life, there are many who believe that there is more to life even after death. Those who worship Hinduism believe that death does not necessarily mean the end. They follow the idea of reincarnation which means that the soul is indestructible and repeatedly takes on a physical body until moksha. Moksha is a term in Hinduism which refers to the various forms of liberation or release which occurs when the cycle of dying and rebirth ends. It is the central concept in Hindu tradition and included as one of the four main goals in human life (Reincarnation in Hinduism).[1]

So reincarnation involves death of the physical body, taking on a new body and this happens over and over with a cycle of dying and rebirth.

2.  An encounter with a Christian reincarnationist

clip_image004 Of Hebrews 9:27, his view was it is used

‘almost universally as the Scripture that refutes reincarnation. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,…“. For a long time, I could not resolve Scripture with my personal experience. Then it hit me – that passage does not necessarily say that men only live once. It may only say that after every lifetime, there is a mandatory judgment (some call it a “life review”). The phrasing is a bit clumsy; perhaps it is even intentionally so?
There are Christians who believe in reincarnation. I guess I’m one of them’.
[2]

Issues emerging from that comment include:

  • Heb 9:27 is one verse used to refute reincarnation but there are many others that teach what happens at death for believer and non-believer.
  • Scripture and personal experience clashed but he got himself out of the bind by reinterpreting Scripture according to a reincarnation view. This means:
  • Another world view determined this theology and he was not listening to biblical content.
  • Men don’t die only once. After every lifetime (over and over is inferred)), compulsory judgment follows judgment.
  • His reincarnation theology does not stop him from being Christian.

clip_image004[1]Again: ‘Yes, but my point is that Hebrews 9:27 does not necessarily say we only die once, it may say (paraphrasing) that for every death there is a separate judgment. In other words, suppose you had 6 successive lives- after each death, there is a mandatory judgment. 6 lives, 6 judgments’.[3]

Concerns again from this comment:

   clip_image004[2]Heb 9:27 doesn’t necessarily say dying only once. How does he know that?

 clip_image004[3]How does he know that it may mean 6 successive lives are followed by deaths and 6 judgments?

clip_image004[4]He reiterated, ‘Begging to differ, but it does not say “only”‘.[4]

He’s moved in Heb 9:27 from ‘does not necessarily say that men only live once. It may only say that after every lifetime’, to …

‘it does not say “only”’.

3.  Some orthodox Jews teach reincarnation

These are examples.

Eminent Jewish scholar and researcher, Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin serves as content editor at Chabad.org, and writes the popular weekly Ask Rabbi Y column. Shurpin is the rabbi of the Chabad Shul in St. Louis Park, Minn. (USA)

In one of his columns, he wrote:

Every descent of the soul into this world has a specific Divine purpose. This is the case whether it is the soul’s first descent or a subsequent reincarnation. There are many aspects of gilgul haneshamot—reincarnation of the soul—that are complex and intricate beyond the scope of this response’ (Why & When Does Reincarnation Occur?)

Vector image of reincarnation The situation becomes more bizarre with his referral to …

the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explains that only reincarnations into human beings is limited to “three strikes and you are out.” These souls can still continue to be reincarnated, first as kosher animals, and then, in decreasing order, as non-kosher animals, plants, and even eventually as inanimate objects, as long as the need exists.[5]

He turned to Rabbi Yeshaya HaLevi Horowitz, as provided by the Kabbalists, in his classic work Shnei Luchot HaBrit (Shaloh) for an explanation of why reincarnation was needed in the Jewish world. The three reasons are:

1. There are some sins for which the cleansing in the spiritual realm alone does not suffice. Thus souls who have sinned and have not properly repented whilst alive, are sometimes forced to undergo a second round of life in this world as rehabilitation for sins previously committed….

2. Reincarnation provides an opportunity for souls to perform those commandments that they were unable to do in a previous incarnation….

3. There are some souls who do not descend for their own growth or perfection. Rather, the only reason they return to this earth is to benefit others. This can be to help out an individual or the entire generation, spiritually or materially (Horowitz in Shurpin).

It is important for the emphases of my article to note that Shurpin provided not a shred of biblical evidence to support his view.

My Jewish Learning website has an article by Rabbi Louis Jacobs[6] who is (What Judaism says about reincarnation) is unafraid to denounce reincarnation: ‘there are no references to the idea in the Bible or the Talmud , and it was unknown in Judaism until the eighth century CE, when it began to be adopted by the Karaites [a sectarian Jewish group] (possibly, it has been suggested, under the influence of Islamic mysticism)’.

Rabbi Louis Jacobs said: ‘Some modern Jews are attracted to the occult and believe in reincarnation. Otherwise the doctrine has had its day, and is believed in by very few modern Jews, although hardly any Orthodox Jew today will positively denounce the doctrine’.[7]

4.  Biblical reincarnation is Greek to me.

I asked this person on the Christian forum: Do you read NT Greek? If you do,

you will know that the Greek uses hapax in Heb 9:27, ‘it is appointed for people to die hapax‘. What is the meaning of hapax? Does it mean to die multiple times, 10 times, twice or once?[8] I was trying to get out of him how he KNEW Heb 9:27 did mean one or only once.

How did he know that it doesn’t include the meaning of ‘only’ when you don’t read and understand Greek? Let’s check the leading Greek lexicon, Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich (1957:89) which gives the meaning of hapax:

clip_image006  ‘As an actual numerical concept, ‘I was stoned once’ (2 Cor 11:25); in Heb 9:26 we have the Greek phrase phanero? hapax, speaking of Jesus ‘has appeared once’ – numerically.

clip_image008  BAG includes this example under the ‘actual numerical concept of once’ = once only. Why did Jesus appear this one time? Verse 26 states: ‘to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself’. He came only once, hapax, to do that. How often was Jesus sacrificed for sin? The same number of times a person dies (in v. 27) – only once.

clip_image010  BAG again places hapax as an ‘actual numerical concept of once’ in Heb 9:28: ‘prospher? hapax eis anapher? hamartia‘ = offered once to bear sins.

So the once in Heb 9:27 means one time only, numerically. There is no second time death and rebirth over and over. Reincarnation is not taught in Scripture.

So Jesus paid the price for sin only once, just as human beings die only once. A. T. Robertson, the leading Greek scholar of the 20th century, stated: ‘Once for all to die, as once for all to live here. No reincarnation here’ (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 5, p. 404).

In Job 16:22 (NLT), Job spoke of his death: ‘For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return’. There is no hint of reincarnation here. What could be clearer than Job 7:9-10 (NLT)?

Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes,
those who die will not come back.
They are gone forever from their home—
never to be seen again.

Here are a couple articles that oppose transmigration of the soul in the Bible:

clip_image012Reincarnation in the Bible’;

clip_image012[1]What does the Bible say about reincarnation?

5.  Time for more Scripture twisting

Try this one for bending Scripture to make it fit one’s own preconceived ideas:

Speaking of Scripture, there is an interesting passing reference to what may be reincarnation. John 9:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

The disciples ask Jesus if a man sinned before his birth. Thus it’s a question about reincarnation. They ask in a rather nonchalant way, as if it’s not even an unusual topic. The Lord answers it another way, but the argument goes that if there was no such thing, wouldn’t He have come right out and said, “There’s no such thing as reincarnation”?[9]

Another Jewish leader, Rabbi Menachem Posner, twists Scripture to make it support reincarnation:

These are not places which shout “reincarnation” in bold letters but they do form part of a greater picture.

Ecclesiastics 1:4: “A generation departs and a generation comes.” If this would refer to the normal flow of generations, a generation cannot come after the previous generation has gone. Rather this refers to the same soul(s) returning in consecutive lives.

Job 1:21: “Naked I left my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there.” Who comes back to their mom’s womb? Enter reincarnation.

These are just a few samples. There are a number of such places scattered throughout the Torah. The bulk of what we know about reincarnation is from the Oral Torah and these are just a few places where this dynamic is evident in an almost offhand manner in the written part.

The question remains though: Reincarnation is a major theological issue. Why is such a major issue not explicitly discussed in the Written Torah?[10]

The answer is simple. It is not found in the first five books of Moses (Torah) or the rest of the Old Testament. It is not a teaching of the New Testament. I’ve provided examples of Scripture twisting by Jewish leaders to try to make the OT fit with reincarnation. The end result is Scripture manipulation.

The fellow on that Christian forum was engaged in a similar kind of promotion of false doctrine while trying to make it look like he knew what he was talking about. The hapax factor found him out.

6.  Conclusion

Reincarnation is ‘the belief that the soul, upon death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form’ (Dictionary.com 2019. s.v. reincarnation). It also is called rebirth and transmigration, referring to human being’s soul being reborn in another body. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation.

The primary reason for reincarnation is ‘that a person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of Hell) depending on the person’s own actions’ (vocabulary.com n.d. s.v. reincarnation). This is designed to cleanse in the spiritual realm of sins not forgiven in the first life.

It was seen that a few orthodox Jews have engaged in, (a) invention of the doctrine, or (b) eisegesis of a couple OT texts to try to support OT reincarnation.

It was shown from the Greek hapax that there is no biblical validity in promotion of reincarnation as, ‘Everyone must die once. Then they are judged’ (Heb 9:27 ERV). Hapax refers to the numeral one or once.

Therefore, any kind of Christian or Jewish promotion of reincarnation is a hoax.

7.  Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[11] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

8.  Notes

[1] Cindy Cheng 2017. Anthropological Perspectives on Death (online), 17 February. Emory WordPress Sites.

[2] ChristianForums.net 2019. Why do so many Christian believers do not believe in the possibility of reincarnation? KevinK#8. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/why-do-so-many-christian-believers-do-not-believe-in-the-possibility-of-reincarnation.79566/ (Accessed 6 June 2019).

[3] Ibid., KevinK#10.

[4] Ibid., KevinK#14.

[5] Shurpin’s footnote at this point was:

There is, however, an important distinction between souls that reincarnate into human bodies and those that reincarnate into other creatures. When a human soul incarnates into an animal, it does so merely as an observer. That is to say that this creature is like any other creature of its kind, except that a reincarnated soul is trapped inside. The excruciating pain and sorrow the soul experiences while trapped inside the animal, forced to live and observe the life of this creature while powerless to control its behavior, serves to rehabilitate it.
Additionally, while this soul cannot really rehabilitate itself as it has no control over the action of the creature, it can sometimes be rehabilitated through the actions of others, for example, by someone reciting a blessing over it, if it is kosher (footnote 5, Why & When Does Reincarnation Occur?’)

[6] My Jewish Learning 2002-2019. What Judaism says about reincarnation. Available at:

[7] My Jewish Learning. What Judaism says about reincarnation. Available at: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/reincarnation-the-transmigration-of-a-jewish-idea/ (Accessed 14 September 2019).

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#24.

[9] KevinK#37. After this post, he made no posts regarding content of reincarnation.

[10] Menachem Posner 1993-2019. Where is reincarnation found in G?d’s word, as opposed to Man’s word? (online) Available at: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/474456/jewish/Where-is-reincarnation-found-in-Gds-word.htm (Accessed 14 September 2019).

[11] 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 © 2019 Spencer D. Gear.This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2019

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Should Christians love their enemies by using guns?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

[The shooters’ Ford Expedition SUV, involved in the shootout. Released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, photo courtesy Wikipedia]

How do you think the USA or any other country can prevent or stop mass shootings? Is it possible to live peacefully with others, without having guns for defence?

What provoked this kind of discussion was the horrible massacre of people at San Bernardino CA, USA. Fourteen people were shot dead and 21 were wounded on December 2, 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times article, ‘San Bernardino shooting victims: Who they were’ (17 December 2015). Those who shot the victims were a Sunni Muslim couple who lost their lives in the massacre, shot by police. See ‘They met online, built a life in San Bernardino — and silently planned a massacre’ (Los Angeles Times, 5 December 2015).

It should not be surprising that someone would start a thread on a Christian forum with this title, ‘How Can The U.S.A. Reduce Mass Shootings?’[1]

Standard pro-guns responses

Related imageSince my family and I have lived in USA and Canada for 7 years, we learned how much some Americans love their guns. Some of our Christian friends had guns and would not live without them.

Here are some of the pro-gun responses on that Christian forum:

clip_image002 ‘Gun control will take guns from those who abide by the law. Do you really think bad guys, felons, creeps will say “o i cant (sic) have a gun it is against the law” do you really?’[2]

clip_image002[1] ‘Well I see it like this; If there are 20 people in a place and 10 have a concealed weapon on them and three or four terrorist come in the terrorist are going to lose. if one wont stand and fight they do not deserve liberty and freedom’.[3]

clip_image002[2] ‘While I do agree that we should “fight” it, in some ways, spiritually – we can’t win this without fighting back, in a few ways, that are not spiritual but physical’.[4]

clip_image002[3] ‘Remove legally owned guns from law-abiding citizens, and the criminals still have the guns, with access to more. The same goes for ammo’.[5]

clip_image002[4] ‘It’s all about power. The powerful prey upon the weak. If you have a gun then one type of predator will avoid you but another one will seek to destroy you.
In America 4.5 out of 10 (at a minimum) have a firearm. (There are some that do but refuse to admit that they have one.)
So about half the citizens are armed’.[6]

Massacre at San Bernardino

What happened at San Bernardino CA in the late morning of 2 December 2015? The Los Angeles Times reported on 2 December that a male and a female who were dressed in black masks and tactical gear – armed with long guns and pistols – ‘entered a holiday party for county health workers in San Bernardino as it was in full swing. Before they fled, they had killed 14 people and wounded 17[7] others’.

Four hours later, as fearful residents were ordered to stay home and scores of officers swarmed the streets, authorities chased a black SUV carrying two suspects from a home in the nearby city of Redlands. As TV news stations broadcast live overhead, the chase spilled back onto San Bernardino’s streets, where authorities and the suspects traded gunfire.

When it was over, a man and woman connected to the assault were dead. One body lay in the street, blood pooling. Another was recovered from the vehicle. A police officer also was wounded in the firefight but is expected to survive (Serrano 2015).

The New York Times reported that the perpetrators of the terrorist act, ‘Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik met online and married two years ago, after he presented himself on a Muslim dating site as a devout young man who liked to fix cars and memorize the Quran’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

After the shooting, the couple escaped in a rented vehicle but four hours later police located them and they were killed in a shootout. ‘They died in a crush of bullets in a brutal face-off with the police’ The husband (Farook) was born in Illinois and raised in Southern California. His wife (Malik) was born in Pakistan and recently was living in Saudi Arabia’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

This slaughter and injuries have reignited the USA debate over guns.

Enter an Aussie with the Port Arthur solution

Tasmanian town locator PortArthur.gif(location of Port Arthur where majority of killings occurred, map courtesy Wikipedia)

 

It was on 28-29 April 1996 that there was a massacre of 35 people at Port Arthur, a former prison colony, and now centre for tourism on the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, Australia. Also, 23 other people were wounded. A 28-year-old, Martin Bryant from the Hobart suburb of New Town, was found guilty and received 35 life sentences. There is no possibility that he will be paroled (Hester 1996; CNN 1996).

 

 

 

Image result for photo of gun buyback Australia public domain

(photo of guns bought back, courtesy news.com.au)

As a result of this massacre, the Australian government led by Prime Minister John Howard at that time implemented a buyback of guns. ‘A  national firearm buyback scheme was progressively implemented from September 1996 and ran for 12 months. This was supported by a national firearm amnesty in which people in possession of illegal firearms could hand them in without penalty’ (Ozanne-Smith et al 2004). This buyback took in 660,959 firearms (Hope 2014).

As many USA folks on the forum were discussing the need to obtain and use guns, I dared to raise another perspective that was not much appreciated.[8]

Why don’t you take a read of this article in The New York Times from 4 December 2015, ‘How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings‘.

There is a way to fix most of it, but the sinful human heart will constantly challenge it.

A biblical answer is found in Romans 13:1-7 (ESV):

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.?

If the USA government had the will like the Australian government has, it could implement anti-gun laws like we have. But the gun lobby will resist like they did in Australia. But we’ve had no massacres since we implemented these laws.

Nevertheless, ISIL could change that with its suicide bombs.

Predictably, someone came back with a view that

1. Gun control is a flawed policy

He linked to the article, ‘Australia: More violent crime despite gun ban’ (Nemerov 2009). This article claims:

It is a common fantasy that gun bans make society safer…. In 2002–five years after enacting its gun ban–the Australian Bureau of Criminology acknowledged there is no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in violent crime: “The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969.”

Even the head of Australia’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, acknowledged that the gun ban had no significant impact on the amount of gun-involved crime: There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don’t think anyone really understands why…. gun control is a flawed policy.

Will Oremus (2012) has responded to this kind of reaction:

What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August [2012?], homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

There have been some contrarian studies about the decrease in gun violence in Australia, including a 2006 paper that argued the decline in gun-related homicides after Port Arthur was simply a continuation of trends already under way. But that paper’s methodology has been discredited, which is not surprising when you consider that its authors were affiliated with pro-gun groups.

Live peacefully with everyone

Let’s examine Rom 12:18 (ESV) in context: ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.[9]

In Rom 12 we are dealing with living life in presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2), how to demonstrate gifts of grace (Rom 12:3-7) and how to live out the Christian life (Rom 12:8-21). Rom 12:18 is in this latter section that includes ‘bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse’ (Rom 12:14) and ‘repay no one evil for evil’ (Rom 12:17). Romans 12:18 (ESV) states, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.

The close connection of Rom 12:17, Rom 12:18 and Rom 12:19 should be self evident. These verses exhort believers not to engage in behaviour that has a negative impact on them. From v. 17 we learn that ‘no one’ should be paid evil by us for evil done by them. In v. 18, we are to live peaceably ‘with all’. What did Jesus urge upon us according to Matt 5:9, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’?

Image result for peace public domainFrom the context of Rom 12:18, we don’t know the specifics of whether there was a situation in the church of Rome that caused the kind of teaching of Rom 12:18, but Rom 12:14 is clear enough that we should be blessing those who persecute us. Could these Roman believers have been experiencing persecution and needed this instruction? Could be!

Jesus made it clear that ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Paul in Rom 12:18 is acknowledging that for the Christian, conflict is not possible to avoid, but he adds this double qualification, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you’ – leave peaceably. I, as a believer, have a responsibility to live at peace with those who oppose me.

The application is that Paul is saying that persecution is inevitable but he doesn’t want Christians to use this certainty of opposition to them and their faith to be an opportunity for them to engage in behaviour that needlessly inflames the conflict. He doesn’t want us to see the unavoidable persecution and opposition as a reason for giving up on a positive witness to those who are opposing us.

It may be impossible for the Christian to live peacefully with all people. Christians may be attacked by evil people for their proclamation of the Gospel, truth and the good. In those circumstances, ‘if possible’ the Christian is to be a pacifist while he or she may be an activist for Christ and the truth. The Christian is to start no strife or hostility. It is the sinful flesh that initiates discord. Yes, the Christian will become involved when another initiates a brawl.

I cannot see Rom 12:18 being used as justification for opposing a gun wielding person by using your own gun. The context in Rom 12:14 indicates that the Christian is to ‘bless those who persecute you’.

Surely the next verse is a stunning answer to the issues some raise with regard to v. 18, ‘ Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”’ (Rom 12:19).

Using guns amounts to avenging ourselves. God’s instruction to us (my paraphrase) is: Don’t do it with a gun. Leave vengeance to the Lord. The Lord will repay with his own retribution.

Works consulted

CNN World News 1996. Australian gunman laughs as he admits killing 35 (online), November 7. Available at: http://archive.is/WAYM3 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hester, J 1996. Aftermath of horror death toll climbs to 35; Tasmaniac is charged. New York Daily News (online), 30 April. Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/aftermath-horror-death-toll-climbs-35-tasmaniac-charged-article-1.724745 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hope, E 2014. Kaechele tunes in to help old home with massive gun buyback. The Mercury (online), October 12. Available at: http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/kaechele-tunes-in-to-help-old-home-with-massive-gun-buyback/news-story/f9d774827cbb5da6d3bd26294f941efd?nk=447736ec10caab2ce01813e7aaf44ad7-1460416786 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

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).

Moo, D J 1996. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans. N B Stonehouse, F F Bruce & G D Fee (gen eds, each over various years). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Nagourney, A; Lovett, I; Turkewitz, J; and Muellerdec, B 2015. Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for San Bernardino Shooting. The New York Times, December 3. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/us/san-bernardino-shooting-syed-rizwan-farook.html (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Nemerov, H 2009. Australia experiencing more violent crime despite gun ban. Free Republic (online), 8 April. Available at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2225517/posts (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Oremus, W 2012. After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since. Florida Sportsman (online), December 16. Available at: http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?89618-After-a-1996-Mass-Shooting-Australia-Enacted-Strict-Gun-Laws-It-Hasn-t-Had-a-Simila&s=cca9dffd2606b6f1e87d455f8e3d0d21 (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Ozanne-Smith, J; Ashby, K; Newstead, S; Stathakis, V Z & Clapperton, A 2004. Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform. Injury Prevention 10(5), 280-286 (online). Available at: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/10/5/280.full (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Serrano, R A 2015. Authorities identify couple who they believe killed 14 at San Bernardino holiday party. Los Angeles Times (online), December 2. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-up-to-20-shot-in-san-bernardino-active-shooter-sought-20151202-story.html (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums.net, December 6, 2015. iLOVE#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/how-can-the-u-s-a-reduse-mass-shootings.62365/ (Accessed 19 December 2015).

[2] Ibid., reba#5.

[3] Ibid., Roro1972#9.

[4] Ibid., Pizza#18.

[5] Ibid., AirDancer#25.

[6] Ibid., JohnDB#55.

[7] This has been updated to 21 others (Nagourney et al 2015).

[8] This content is at Christian Forums.net, OzSpen#43.

[9] I posted this to Christian Forums.net, OzSpen#238. I gained some assistance from Moo (1996) and Lenski (1936).

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 April 2016.

 

Is Islam a religion of peace at its core?

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(image courtesy Firas, Flickr.com, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Christianity includes a theology of surrender to God. Jesus’ call to surrender according to Mark 8:34 was: ‘And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”’. According to Luke 6:22-23, this surrender may include rejection, accompanied by blessing:

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Leading South African evangelical Christian writer of the 19th century, Andrew Murray, wrote a book titled, Absolute Surrender.

Fighting the Flying Circus

(image courtesy LibriVox)

Therefore, it should not be surprising to find ‘surrender’ as an essential teaching of Islam.

In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender – however, it was derived from the root word “salam”. From this root word, you can also obtain the words peace and safety. Many people consider that Islam implies some sort of enslavement to Allah, but others find it more helpful to define the word “Islam” as surrender (Pennington 2008, emphasis in original).

How does salam = peace fit with the Islamic religious verses of violence towards non-believers? The Online Etymology Dictionary states that Islam is a ‘religious system revealed by Muhammad’ from Arabic islam, literally ‘submission’ (to the will of God). It is from root of aslama, which means ‘he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted’, a causative conjunction of salima ‘he was safe’ and is related to salam ‘peace’ (Harper 2001-2015).

However, since salam means peace and Islam means submission to Allah, how does that related to what is said in Quran 48:29[1]? The Ahmed translation reads: ‘Muhammad is the Prophet of God; and those who are with him are severe with infidels but compassionate among themselves’.

This is how this topic began on a Christian forum:[2]

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What does the verse in this letter, Quran 5:32 (Yusuf Ali translation), state?

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

Another responded to the above letter: ‘Thank you for posting, I think it is needed. I took a world religions class and learned that indeed Islam is a religion of peace’.[3]

clip_image005(image courtesy openclipart)

 

My answer to the notion that Islam is a religion of peace was that that was because the ‘violent’ information – regarding unbelievers/infidels – from the Quran – is ignored or filtered out.[4] Let’s examine some facts about Islam, particulars which the Australian mass media don’t want to trumpet loud and clear.

A. At its core Islam promotes violence to unbelievers

This is the violent nature of Islam according to the Quran:
blue-arrow Quran 4:76 [Yusuf Ali translation], ‘Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan’.
blue-arrow Quran 5:33 [Yusuf Ali], ‘The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter’.
blue-arrow Quran 8:12 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them’.
blue-arrowQuran 8:39 [Yusuf Ali], ‘And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do’.

blue-arrow Quran 47:35 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds’.

Now try convincing me that at its core, Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Anyone who promotes the view of the peaceful nature of Islam must ignore these verses from the Quran.

What happened on September 11 2001 in the USA and on 13 November 2015 in Paris is at the core of Muhammad’s requirements for Muslims who are true to their faith.

Patrick Sookhedo, former leader of the Barnabas Fund, wrote an article in 2005 for The Spectator with the title, ‘The myth of moderate Islam’ in which he stated,

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

You can even find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Quran 8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’ (A. Yusuf Ali’s translation) (Sookhdeo 2005).

B. ‘Moderate’ Muslims are like cultural Christians

I suggest there could be a parallel between ‘moderate’ Muslims and cultural Christians.

1. Who are the ‘moderate’ Muslims?

In everyday language in Australia, they are the Muslims who don’t identify with the IS extremism and violence – for the time being. They seem to be reasonable human beings who are trying to assimilate into our culture while maintaining their faith. Their voices tend to oppose extremism. There was an article in The Huffington Post Australia, ‘Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology’ (Markoe 2014) in which it was claimed:

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24 2014) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief”.

It seems like a contradiction in methodology to blast the ideology of IS (by Muslim scholars) but they do it in language that is in Arabic, using heavy classical religious terms that are designed to reach the young who are being recruited by IS. Since it uses language that mainstream Muslims would find difficult to understand, it defeats the purpose of communicating to the mainstream – the alleged ‘moderates’ – with this obscure and unintelligible document.

Could this Muslim woman who wrote a guest column for the Toronto Sun, Canada on September 15, 2015, be an example of a ‘moderate’? See, ‘Ban niqab, burka in all public places’, by Raheel Raza. She states:

As a Muslim mother who never saw a niqab when I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, I am astonished to see Canada’s judiciary caving in to Islamists who have nothing but contempt for Canada’s values of gender equality.

I write this as a Muslim Canadian who does not have any specific political leanings.

But in the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent that is passed off to naïve and guilt-ridden white, mainstream Canadians as an essential Islamic practice.

The niqab and burka have nothing to do with Islam.

They’re the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia.

Now I learn I have not only to fight the medieval, theocratic adherents of my faith for a safe space for myself, I have to battle the Federal Court of Canada as well, which has come out on the side of these facemasks.

File:Woman wearing Niqab.JPG(woman wearing niqab, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The article was repeated in The Huffington Post, 24 September 2015, ‘As a Muslim, I think Canada should ban the niqab and birka in public’.

2. Are there moderate Muslims?

It would seem that there are moderates because not all Muslims are involved in terrorism like that in Paris, 13 November 2015, New York City on 11 September 2001, Daesh (IS) attacks in Syria and other countries of the Middle East. ‘In September [2014], the French government began calling the group Daesh which is the Arabic name for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS or the Islamic Sate group’ (SBS News, 4 December 2014). However, Sookhdeo (2005), an Islamic specialist, stated that it is a myth to speak of moderate Islam.

How many Muslims are in my home country of Australia?

In research released by the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia (Hassan 2015:22), its conclusions in 2015 were that more Muslims migrated to Australia following the change of national policy from the Restriction Act of 1901 [commonly known as the White Australia policy] to a more open approach in the late 1960s. In 1966 there were 200,885 Muslims in Australia, but that increased to 476,290 by the 2011 Census, which is a 137% increase (natural increase and by immigration) since 1966. The statistics reveal that 40% of Australian Muslims were Australian born, while the remainder came from 183 countries.

By 2011, Islam was Australia’s third largest religion, representing 2.2% of the population. They are mostly city dwellers, with large urban clusters, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

A majority of Muslims are Australian citizens, proficient in English and are productive members of society, with large numbers of school-age children. Most of these Muslims are young and have a similar educational profile to similar age Australians. However, they lag behind with employment and income, thus having higher unemployment rates.

Hassan (2015:22) recommended urgent action be taken to implement remedial policies to promote social and economic inclusion. By 2050, it is expected that there will be 1.5 million Australian Muslims, representing 5% of the population, and these will provide a vital bridge to what should then be the largest world religion – Islam (Hassan 2015:22).

I ask: What will be happening in Australia by 2050 with an estimated Islamic population of 5% of the nation? Can we be confident that the majority of Muslims here will be moderates who would not become activists, even terrorists, in the future? I am not convinced this will be the situation since there are verses in the Quran that definitely promote violence towards infidels. All non-Muslims are infidels, including non-Muslim Australians. That will not be in my lifetime but it will be in that of my children and grandchildren. I have a concern for peace and wellbeing here and I cannot see it happening if the events of September 11 2001, 13 November 2015 in Paris, and ‘Mali terrorist attack: Scores dead after Islamist gunmen storm Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako’ 13 November 2015 are multiplied across the world, including Australia.

a. A view from a moderate Muslim nation

File:President Recep Tayyip Erdo&gbreve;an.jpg (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Turkey, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s check on a supposed ‘moderate’ Muslim country such as Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former Prime Minister and from 2014 the President of Turkey for the AKP Party,[5] when he was mayor of Istanbul in the late 1990s, stated, ‘Thank God, I am for Sharia’ and ‘one cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time’. He added, ‘For us, democracy is a means to an end’ (cited in Yavuz 2009). BBC News reported of Erdogan in 2002:

His pro-Islamist sympathies earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred.

He had publicly read an Islamic poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”

He was sentenced to 10 months in jail, but was freed after four (BBC News 2002).

For Erdogan, democracy was like a streetcar which you ride ‘until you arrive at your destination, then you step off’ (Yavuz 2009:100, n. 40). Concerning ‘moderate’ Islam, Erdogan, a Muslim, does not believe there is such a thing. His view was that ‘these descriptions are very ugly. It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it’ (cited in Carol 2015).[6] Or, is Erdogan a voice for the extremist Muslim, even the terrorists?

See the ‘Answering-Islam’ Christian website and the article, ‘Moderate Muslims & Moderate Islam’ by Jacob Thomas.

Michael Mukasey, in reviews of two books on the war on terror, in The Wall Street Journal in 2011, concluded, ‘There are many moderate Muslims, but there is simply no body of doctrine within Islam that provides a principled basis for condemning the 9/11 attacks’ (Mukasey 2011).

Ron Edwards’ evaluation is that there are no such people as ‘moderate’ Muslims. Instead,

most people known as moderate Muslims are those simply waiting until the overall Muslim population is at least around eight percent of the overall population of the country, or city they migrate to. After that they start getting involved politically via the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations and use the judicial system of their chosen nation or city to further the political clout of Muslims at the expense of the native citizens where they immigrated to. Soon after, violent acts begin to occur. Numerous cities in Great Britain, France and even Televiv (sic)[7] Israel are peppered with Muslim stabbings of non-Muslims and boisterous calls for the collapse of the nation, or city they have invaded (Edwards 2015).

Rev Fred Nile, New South Wales Upper House MLC in Australia, whose Christian Democratic Party of two members has the balance of power, is of a similar view concerning what happens when the percentage of Muslims grows to a certain point in a country. He told Leigh Sales of ABC’s 7.30:

There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate and that’s why I felt if we keep the Muslim population at a certain percentage, which at the moment was 1.5, it’s probably two per cent. But once it gets to five per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change, the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding (Sales 2015).

That analysis by Edwards is provocative and food for thought. Those who are truly Muslim will act on the Quran’s requirements when the need arises and they are committed to the Islamic cause of Jihad, Sharia Law,[8] Fatwa and globalization of Jihad. We know the nature of Islamic governments when we examine countries with a majority of Muslims, such as Saudi Arabia (‘Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam’), Iran (‘Sunni Muslims living in fear in Iran as state-sponsored persecution ramps up’) and Indonesia (‘More rigid Islam in Indonesia’).

What is the future when supposed tolerant and ‘moderate’ Muslims do not come out in wholesale denunciation of Islamic suicide bombers and Islamic violence? Could this be a wait and grow strategy until the Muslim population is large enough to have clout in a culture? Ron Edwards considers that that will happen when the percentage of Muslims in a culture grows large enough. He suggests that figure is about 8%.

3. How to deal with the threat

I recommend the article by Shmuel Bar (2004:36), ‘The religious sources of Islamic terrorism’. These are but a couple grabs from a challenging assessment:

The regimes of the Middle East have proven their mettle in coercing religious establishments and even radical sheikhs to rule in a way commensurate with their interests. However, most of them show no inclination to join a global (i.e., “infidel”) war against radical Islamic ideology. Hence, the prospect of enlisting Middle Eastern allies in the struggle against Islamic radicalism is bleak. Under these conditions, it will be difficult to curb the conversion of young Muslims in the West to the ideas of radicalism emanating from the safe houses of the Middle East. Even those who are not in direct contact with Middle Eastern sources of inspiration may absorb the ideology secondhand through interaction of Muslims from various origins in schools and on the internet.

What is a way forward? His heading is ‘Fighting hellfire with hellfire’. Based on what Bar argued in his article, he asked:

Is it possible – within the bounds of Western democratic values – to implement a comprehensive strategy to combat Islamic terrorism at its ideological roots? First, such a strategy must be based on an acceptance of the fact that for the first time since the Crusades, Western civilization finds itself involved in a religious war; the conflict has been defined by the attacking side as such with the eschatological goal of the destruction of Western civilization. The goal of the West cannot be defense alone or military offense or democratization of the Middle East as a panacea. It must include a religious-ideological dimension: active pressure for religious reform in the Muslim world and pressure on the orthodox Islamic establishment in the West and the Middle East not only to disengage itself clearly from any justification of violence, but also to pit itself against the radical camp in a clear demarcation of boundaries. Such disengagement cannot be accomplished by Western-style declarations of condemnation. It must include clear and binding legal rulings by religious authorities which contradict the axioms of the radical worldview and virtually “excommunicate” the radicals. In essence, the radical narrative, which promises paradise to those who perpetrate acts of terrorism, must be met by an equally legitimate religious force which guarantees hell-fire for the same acts (Bar 2004:36-37).

So Bar is calling on Western democratic governments to become involved at the religious level in dealing with this threat of terrorism. I can’t see secular governments like my own in Australia wanting to go down that path. However, it’s a fascinating challenge by a scholar to offer this way forward for governments.

For a more socialised view of Islam in Indonesia (perhaps ‘moderate’ Islam), see, Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Practice in Indonesia (Fealy & White 2008).[9]

4.         Islam spread by violence

If we simply and honestly consider the history of Islam and of its founder, it is impossible to conclude that it is a religion of peace. It was spread by conquest and by force of arms. The Oxford Islamic Studies online (2015) describes the spread of Islam as involving,

  • After the death of Muhammad, under four ‘rightly guided caliphs’, the conquest of territories outside of Arabia began.
  • They ‘started as sporadic tribal raids’, with a proper army organised about AD 634.
  • The ‘newly organized Muslim navy destroyed the Christian fleet at the Battle of the Masts (655). Constantinople was sporadically besieged during this period, though never captured. On the oriental front, the Sasanian army suffered a crushing defeat at the battle of al Qadisiyah (637), and Ctesiphon was taken soon afterwards; this caused the disintegration of the Sasanian empire’.
  • In the expansion, naval expeditions were launched against certain countries and the dynasty of the Muslims ‘emerged as a major seapower’.
  • The conquests came with surprising speed as resistance from other countries was often fragile.

World History’s, ‘History of the Arabs’, further explains the expansion of the early Islamic religion by army conquest and war in the Middle East and northern Africa. This explanation of Islamic history stated, ‘The great Christian cities of Syria and Palestine fall to the Arabs in rapid succession from 635. Damascus, in that year, is the first to be captured. Antioch follows in 636. And 638 brings the greatest prize of all, in Muslim terms, when Jerusalem is taken after a year’s siege’.

Since combat, siege and subjugation have been the Muslim strategy since the beginning of its existence, a change in tactic is not expected in its expansion in Western civilisation when the Muslim population reaches a certain percentage.

I’m of the view that ‘moderate Muslims’ is a politically correct phrase invented so as not to offend our oil producing ‘friends’ as the West needs their oil. If there is a new caliphate, we can expect the ‘moderate Muslims’ to support it (so they don’t get beheaded).

C. Who are the cultural Christians?

Neither ‘moderate’ Muslims nor cultural Christians take their sacred books seriously. The ‘radicals’ are the ones who are acting on what the Quran tells them to do to unbelieving infidels, i.e. all non-Muslims. The radicals among Christians are the evangelicals who take the Gospel seriously and proclaim the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the only way to salvation (See John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).

1. Separating the biblical from the cultural

See the comparison here of ‘biblical versus cultural Christianity’. The biblical Christian is the person who has faith in the redemptive blood of Christ for salvation. Cultural Christians are those whose desires fit with the cultural motivations and values of this world. It’s a works-based distortion of biblical Christianity, but many of these nominal Christians attend modernist or postmodernist churches that don’t preach the Gospel or believe the authenticity and reliability of Scripture (Kjos Ministries).

If you want to understand the negative impact of cultural Christianity, see the decline in numbers attending mainstream, liberal Christianity in Australia. ‘Two Australian denominations have been given reports that reveal decay and a need for change’. These are the Anglicans and the Uniting Church. For the Anglicans,

only four dioceses reported growth…. In the Anglican Church, the presence of the evangelical diocese of Sydney makes things clear. Unlike other dioceses, it is the only one with better than expected attendance, according to the report’s criteria based on Census data.

In Sydney, 68,000 Anglicans are in church each Sunday. In Melbourne 21,000 Anglicans are in church on Sunday. It was pointed out at General Synod, Eternity understands, that the growing churches were evangelical (Sandeman 2014).

As for the Uniting Church,

MaryboroughUnitingChurch.JPG(Maryborough Qld Uniting Church, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 A 40 per cent decline in the numbers at church since 1991, and a weekly Sunday attendance of less than 100,000 are key findings for the Uniting Church census released earlier this year [of 2014]….The median worship service attendance per congregation is 35 people. This means that half the congregations have fewer than 35 attending and half have larger numbers. Of the 35 people at the median, 3 would be children.

The number of Uniting Church congregations (local churches) has declined by 31 per cent since 1990. Only 20 per cent of congregations run youth groups, but encouragingly 40 per cent run Sunday schools…. 90 per cent of Uniting Church people under 50 years of age are evangelicals according to Rod James, Adelaide leader of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations (ACC) in the Uniting Church (Sandeman 2014).

So the denominations that emphasise liberal Christianity, promoting the cultural ‘gospel’ of peace and good works – but without the Christian Gospel – can be designated as church groups promoting cultural Christianity. Changed lives through proclamation of the Gospel are not on their agendas.

Here is but one example of cultural Christianity. I read the article, “An Evening with John Shelby Spong,” in the Uniting Church of Queensland’s, Journey magazine (online), 28 September 2007. Then, I read the positive letter towards Spong’s Christianity by Noel Preston. Preston’s letter stated:[10]

Spong again

I write to commend you for the October Journey.

I was especially appreciative of the three commentaries on Bishop Spong’s public meeting in Brisbane.

I do not dissent from the impressions reported and share with Bruce Johnson a measure of disappointment that the address I heard from Jack Spong was short on the detail of “a new approach” to theology, though I have great admiration for the positive impact the Bishop has had on behalf of Christian faith throughout a courageous ministry lasting decades.

Your editorial on the subject mused over what it is that causes such a reaction by many to the 78 year old Bishop.

I suspect its intensity has something to do with his determination to profess his allegiance to Jesus Christ despite challenging certain questionable beliefs, moral codes and institutional norms which have been dubiously confused with the essence of the Gospel.

Perhaps his detractors might opine: “If he could just stop pretending to be a disciple it would be easier to tolerate him!”

This is not an unusual story.

As some of your readers would recognise, attempts to be prophetic from within a religious tradition often bring forth a vehement reaction.

Didn’t it happen to Jesus of Nazareth?

Noel Preston
Auchenflower

That is an example of the promotion of cultural Christianity by Rev Dr Noel Preston – a retired Uniting Church minister – in support of Dr John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal (Anglican) bishop of Newark, New Jersey, USA. While Spong was bishop of that diocese, about 40% of the people left the churches of the diocese. I have attempted to expose Spong’s heretical brand of Christianity in, Spong’s deadly Christianity. Robert Stowe explained the statistical free fall in 2000:

Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese [Newark, NJ] fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.

The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate [of] 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves (Stowe 2000).

That’s an example of cultural Christianity in action – massive decline in numbers. This is the cultural Christianity of Spong which Preston wants to call ‘the positive impact the Bishop has’.

See my compiled article on ‘The Content of the Gospel’ for an explanation of the Gospel and discipleship. Those who proclaim Christ alone as the way to salvation will share/preach Gospel content and will be regarded as ‘radicals’ by liberal, cultural Christianity.

I don’t expect the situation around the world to get any better. In my view, Islam cannot be reformed because of the nature of the above instructions from the Quran.

D. Islam vs Christianity

In an article like this, I want to raise a few issues that demonstrate the differences between Islam and Christianity which contribute to the distinction between the two religions, even though these two monotheistic religions use some similar language. I particularly refer to their views of Christ and God. Are their doctrines on these two persons the same? To better understand how peace is demonstrated in these two religions, it will be helpful to examine their views of God and Jesus.

1. Almighty God: Christianity

clip_image006 Who is God in Christianity?

In the Old Testament, the biblical names for God include:

  •  El (including Elim, Elohim, and Eloah). This word is like the Greek, theos, Latin Deus, and the English God. It is a generic name for God and may have a root meaning of power or might, but its basic meaning has been lost (Thiessen 1949:52).
  •  Jehovah (or Yahweh) is ‘the personal name.

God, the Father, is regarded as God. ‘For on him God the Father has set his seal’ (Jn 6:27); the biblical language used is ‘God our Father’ (Rm 1:7); and ‘God the Father’ (Gal 1:1, 3). The Father is God. What is his nature and how are his attributes described in Scripture?

A W Tozer, in his classic on the attributes of God – Knowledge of the Holy – presents an exposition of these attributes. You can read a summary of them at, ‘Attributes of God’ (from AllAbout God, 2002-2015). These include: wisdom, infinitude, sovereignty, holiness, Trinity, omniscience, faithfulness, love, omnipotence, self-existence, self-sufficiency, justice, immutability (i.e. God never changes), mercy, eternal, goodness, gracious, and omnipresence.

2. Jesus Christ: Christianity

Fundamentally, the Jesus of Christianity is the third person of the Trinity. He is God. This is the biblical material to support such a theology:

clip_image006[1]God, the Son, is regarded as God. He has the attributes of deity:[11]

Christian Cross Clipart(image courtesy PublicDomianPictures.net)

 

(1) Eternity (Jn 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24);

(2) Omniscience (Jn 4:24; 16:30; 21:17);

(3) Omnipresence (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 3:13);

(4) Omnipotence. ‘I am the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8); Heb 1:3; Mt 28:18;

(5) Immutable – he does not change (Heb 1:12; 13:8);

(6) He performs the actions of deity: creator (Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16);

holds things together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3); forgives sin (Mt 9:2, 6); raises the dead (Jn 6:39-40, 54; 11:25; 20:25, 28); he will be the Judge (Jn 5:22) of believers (2 Cor 5:10), of Antichrist and his followers (Rev 19:15), of the nations (Ac 17:31), of Satan (Gen 3:15) and of the living and the dead (Ac 10:42).

For an explanation of the biblical basis of the Trinity, see my article: Is the Trinity taught in the Bible? The Trinity can be diagrammed:

(image courtesy neverendingtruth.net)

Jesus is not only God, but he also became human as the following Scriptures demonstrate. Jesus has two natures – God and man. Here’s the evidence for his humanity:

clip_image006[2]God, the Son, became flesh.

We have seen the divine nature of Christ. However, Scripture reveals that the incarnate Christ had two natures – the divine and the human. The eternal God (the divine), the Son, became flesh (the human). As expected,

(a) He had a human birth that involved being,

  •  conceived in the virgin Mary (Matt 1:18-20, 24-25; Luke 1:34-35). and
  •  born to a woman as a baby on the first Christmas Day.[12] See Gal 4:4; Matt 1:18-2:12; Lk 1:30—38; 2:1-20. This leads to his being called ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Matt 1:1) and ‘descended from David according to the flesh’ (Rom 1:3). Luke records his descent from Adam (Lk 3:23-38). If you read the NT, you will note that on a few occasions Jesus was referred to as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42; see Matt 13:55), but in context you will see that these comments were by people who were not Jesus’ friends but were by those who did not fully understand who he was (Thiessen 1949:299).

The virgin birth confirmed how in Jesus he could be fully divine and fully human in one person. This is the means God used to make salvation available to all human beings (see John 3:16; Gal 4:4). The virgin birth ensured that Jesus could be truly human but without inherited sin. How so? There is no biblical evidence to support the Roman Catholic view that Mary was without sin. ‘A better solution is to say that the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary must have prevented not only the transmission of sin from Joseph (for Jesus had no human father) but also, in a miraculous way, the transmission of sin from Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy’ (Grudem 1999:230, emphasis in original).

It is critical to understand the Christian view of Jesus as fully God and fully human. Thus he is sometime called the God-man. At Christmas it is critical to comprehend that we do not commemorate the birth of God, the Son. The fact is that we celebrate the birth of the humanity of Jesus.

See my articles:

clip_image006[3] Jesus, the Prince of Peace

It is stated in the prophetic statement about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (emphasis added), ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. According to Isaiah 48:22, ‘“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked”’.

In Isa 9:6 there are four famous names mentioned in a parallelism Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Note the singular, ‘name’, which in Hebrew means that ‘this is the type of character that will be his…. It is implied that he is called by these [four] names because he actually is the kind of person that the names say he is’ (Leupold 1971:1.185)

What does ‘Prince of Peace’ mean? How will that be demonstrated when the Messiah fulfils Isa 9:6? The Messiah who fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy will rule over the redeemed people as ‘Prince’. What methods will he use?

The methods by which he achieved his success were peaceful. The people whom he rules are men of peace. The principles according to which he still carries on his work are all peace. In fact, through him the word peace has taken on a much richer spiritual as well as physical connotation (Leupold I.1971:186).

Leupold explains that the prophetic reference linked to the one who is Immanuel (Isa 7:14) as ‘Prince of Peace’ indicates that ‘the very antithesis to what he does would be to attempt to build a successful empire by the methods of brutal war’ (Leupold I.1971:186). In this Isaiah passage, the time frame for when the Prince of Peace would bring in this peace is not stated by the prophet.

I was alerted to this emphasis by Mark Roberts (2010). In the Old Testament, peace was closely associated with righteousness and justice. This verse from Isaiah highlights this view:

Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will become a lush and fertile forest. Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever (Isa 32:15-17, NLT).

The righteous person practises justice in what he does and this assists in bringing peace.

One of the most read evangelical books on God’s peace is that by Billy Graham, Peace with God (1984, Word Publishing).

Since Jesus, the Son, is the third person of the Trinity, what does the triune God say about peace? Isaiah wrote, ‘”There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isa 57:21) and the New Testament revealed that ‘God is not a God of confusion but of peace’ (I Cor 14:33). The deduction is that for peace to reign, there must be no more wicked (sinful) people in existence. That will happen only in God’s kingdom of righteousness and justice at Christ’s Second Coming. Second Timothy 3:10-14 puts this in perspective:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace (emphasis added).

That’s when there will be no more sin and sinners to contaminate God’s kingdom. Christians look forward to eternal righteousness and peace. However, 2 Tim 3:14 encourages believers to be ‘at peace’ with one another – NOW.

a. Jesus brings peace

Jesus Himself was careful to confirm what he brings: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’ (John 14:27, emphasis added). It was after his resurrection that this was recorded of Jesus: ‘On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”’ (John 20:19, emphasis added).

What does this mean for the Christian? The apostle Paul left no doubt: ‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful’ (Col 3:15, emphasis added). God’s peace has this effect on Christians: ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all’ (2 Thess 3:16, emphasis added).

b. Jesus, peace, and division

Related image(image courtesy theeconomiccollapseblog.com)

 

 

There’s a tricky series of verses in Luke 12:49-53:

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (ESV, emphasis added).

How is it possible that the Prince of Peace who came to bring peace, could say that he would bring division? Surely this is contradictory or a paradox? This is the Jesus who pronounced, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9, emphasis added). Can the Bible’s view of peace be trusted in light of Luke 12:49-53 and these verses? Ps 72:7; Lk 1:79; 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; Jn 14:27; 16:33; 20:19-21; Rom 5:1; 14:17; Eph 2:14; Col 1:20; Heb 6:20-7:2. Surely this string of verses confirms that Jesus is the one who brings peace? Acts 14:22 gives another dimension with this language: ‘strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’. The context is that Jews stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city as dead. When the disciples gathered around Paul, he rose up, preached the Gospel in Derbe with Barnabas and told the disciples that discipleship involves ‘many tribulations’ before entering God’s kingdom.

How can it be the Gospel of peace that brings division in families, among religious groups and in nations? It is not difficult to reconcile as the Jesus of the Gospel divides people, even people in a household, where there will be those who serve Jesus and those who reject him – even hate him. The parallel passage to Luke 12:49-53 in Matthew’s Gospel is Matt 10:34-36. Verse 34 states, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’.

The Gospel brings a rift between those who love Jesus and those who reject him. Christ does bring peace in the individual’s relationship with God and with other believers, but it is not as the culture understands it. Christ’s peace is not that of compromise or tolerance towards evil. The world calls failure to compromise to the culture’s standards – intolerance or bigotry. On April 4, 2015, Salon published an article declaring such, ‘Right-wing Christianity teaches bigotry: The ugly roots of Indiana’s new anti-gay law’.

Rather, Christ’s Gospel triumphs over evil, wrong and Satan because of the victory achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is expected that this will bring opposition from families, communities and nations. ‘It is no namby-pamby sentimentalism that Christ preaches, no peace at any price. The Cross is Christ’s answer to the devil’s offer of compromise in world dominion. For Christ the kingdom of God is virile righteousness, not mere emotionalism’ (Robertson 1930:84).

In John 16:33, we have the recorded words of Jesus: ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (emphasis added). The Christian experiences the peace of God in the midst of tribulation while living in a difficult or hostile culture – the world of unbelief in Jesus.

This biblical evidence makes it clear that:

  • The promised Immanuel – Messiah – was to be the Prince of Peace.
  • Jesus did bring peace and especially peace in the relationship between redeemed sinners and God.
  • However, this peace with Christ brings divisions in families and nations because of love for Christ versus rejection of Christ.

Now let’s check out Islam’s view of God and Jesus.

3. God: Islam

File:Star and Crescent.svg(image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

For Islam, God is called Allah. What are his nature and attributes?

clip_image006[4] The Oneness of Allah

On this Islamic website, monotheism is affirmed about the ‘Nature of Allah’:

Islam is based on monotheism. Tawhid, the oneness of Allah, is an essential belief for all Muslims. Islam teaches that Allah, the one god, has 99 attributes. Although we can understand some of His attributes, His essence cannot be comprehended by a human’s limited mental capacity. Allah has created mankind primarily so that they may know their creator through his creations.

Realisation of the supremacy of Allah, although necessary for success in the hereafter, has not been enforced on man – it is a test that is based on the fact that man has been given free will. However, man’s free will is limited, although he has the freedom to choose between right and wrong, he cannot change parts of his destiny that Allah has pre-determined. Understanding the nature of Allah is essential as it has a substantial effect on a Muslim’s duties to Allah.

The oneness of Allah is the one most important theological principal (sic) in Islam. The first of the five pillars, the declaration of faith, which is the first act that one does to embark on Islam, reiterates the necessity of the belief in the oneness of Allah. It begins with the negation of any god other than Allah:

“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.”

Beginning with negation rather than affirmation, in this case, serves to emphasise strongly the importance of the oneness of Allah.

The Quran, the words of Allah mediated to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel), is full of references to the essential belief in one god:

Say ‘He is Allah the One’ 112:1

Surely Allah alone is the creator of all things and he is the One, the Most Supreme 13:17

Say ‘I am only a Warner, and there is no god but Allah, the One, the Most Supreme. 23:66

Holy is He! He is Allah the One, the Most Supreme 39:5 (emphasis in original).

Note what the Quran states to deny the Trinity and punish those who believe in it: Quran 5:73 states, ‘They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them’.

The five pillars of Islam are the framework for the Muslim life:

1. The testimony of faith,

2. Prayer,

3. Giving zakat (support of the needy),

4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan, and

5. The pilgrimage to Makkah [Mecca] once in a lifetime for those who are able (www.islam-guide.com).

clip_image006[5] Some of the attributes and actions of Allah: Is he the Lord God Almighty revealed in the Bible?

Image result for allah clipart public domain

(image courtesy clker.com)

For an extensive comparison of Allah vs Jehovah, see the article, ‘Is Allah the God of the Bible?’ (Shamoun n d). Here is documented from the Quran:

  • Allah is the author of evil.
  • Allah is the author of abrogation.[13]
  • Allah is the author of historical errors.
  • Allah is the author of carnal pleasures (e.g. ‘for those who fear Allah is a blissful abode, enclosed gardens and vineyards, and damsels with swelling breasts (Arabic – Kawa’eb), their peers in age, and a full cup’, Surah 78:31-34’).
  • Allah is the author of foreign words.
  • Arabic scholars point to Allah being the author of grammatical errors.
  • Allah and oaths: Jehovah swears by himself (Heb 6:13); Allah swears by less than himself, including the Quran, the sky and constellations, by the pen, city and creation.
  • Allah is not Triune.

Quran 112:1-4 (Yusuf Ali translation) succinctly gives the Muslim understanding of Allah’s nature:

1.Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

2.Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

3.He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

4.And there is none like unto Him.

a. Allah is remote and not involved

Allah is distant and does not have immanence. Immanence means that God is involved in the creation. He is not uninterested or uninvolved with people and his creation. Job explained the God of the Bible this way, ‘In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind’ (Job 12:10 ESV), while the New Testament revealed, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’ (Eph 4:6 ESV). In Christianity, the Lord God is present in all creation, including in the life of the believer. Of course, Jehovah exists outside of space and time (called transcendence) but he acts in time through his immanence.

How does this compare with Allah? In ‘The Haddith of Allah’s “Descent”’, it is stated:

What we must believe is that Allah existed and nothing existed with Him; that He created all creation, including the Throne, without becoming subject to disclosure through them, nor did a direction arise for Him because of them, nor did He acquire a location in them; that He does not become immanent, that He does not cease to be transcendent, that he does not change, and that He does not move from one state to another (Haddad n d, emphasis added).

Thus, the God of Islam is very different to the God of Christianity. They are not one and the same God. What is of concern is how readily Christians living in the Islamic world use the word Allah to refer to the Almighty God of Christianity. Sam Shamoun has outlined the issue:

We are well aware that the name Allah is used by Arab speaking Christians for the God of the Bible. In fact, the root from which the name is derived, ilah, stems from the ancient Semitic languages, corresponding to the Mesopotamian IL, as well as the Hebrew-Aramaic EL, as in Ishma-el, Immanu-el, Isra-el. These terms were often used to refer to any deity worshiped as a high god, especially the chief deity amongst a pantheon of lesser gods. As such, the Holy Bible uses the term as just one of the many titles for Yahweh, the only true God.

Yet the problem arises from the fact that Muslims insist that Allah is not a title, but the personal name of the God of Islam. This becomes problematic since according to the Holy Bible the name of the God of Abraham is Yahweh/Jehovah, not Allah:

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am Yahweh (YHVH) and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty; BUT BY MY NAME, YAHWEH, I did not make myself known to them.” Exodus 6:2-3

Therefore, Christians can use Allah as a title or a generic noun for the true God, but not as the personal name for the God of the Holy Bible (Shamoun n d).

clip_image006[6]Who is the Islamic Jesus (Isa)?

File:Turkish-islam isa.jpg(Turkish Islam Isa, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

It is not unusual to hear a statement like this: Both Christianity and Islam confirm who Jesus is; they both believe in Jesus. However, I ask, who is the Jesus of Islam in comparison with the Jesus of the Bible? In Islam, Jesus is known as Isa.

According to Quran 2:111 (Yusuf Ali translation), ‘And they [Jews or Christians] say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their (vain) desires. Say: “Produce your proof if ye are truthful”’. This is not true for a genuine Christian. The only people who will enter Paradise are those who are forgiven sinners who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:9; John 3:16; John 6:47 and Acts 16:31). There are three references to Paradise in the New Testament:

  • Perhaps the most well-known example is in what Jesus said to the thief dying beside him on another cross: ‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”’ (Lk 23:43).
  • What was the apostle Paul’s experience? In 2 Cor 12:3-4 he wrote, ‘And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter’.
  • ‘Jesus told the church at Ephesus “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”’ (Rev 2:7).

So apparently paradise is where God is because it is called the “Paradise of God” and Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that very day. Jack Wellman has written an excellent article to deal with the question, ‘What are the Differences Between Paradise and Heaven in the Bible?’ (Patheos, September 11, 2014) in which he concluded:

clip_image010

a. Curse on those who call Christ, the son of Allah[14]

Quran 9:30 states: ‘The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!’

b. Jesus, son of Mary, only a messenger

Quran 4:171 affirms:

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Quran 5:75:

Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger [or, an apostle]; many were the messengers [or, the apostles] that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!

So Jesus, being the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger, which is contrary to Matt 11:27, where Jesus states that ‘all things have been handed over to me by my Father’.

c. Jesus and Mary as gods

Quran 5:116:

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Jesus and his mother are deities and the Holy Spirit is not stated as divine.

d. Allah cannot have a son

Quran 6:101:

To Him [Allah] is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things.

Quran 72:3, ‘And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son’.

e. So, there can be no son who died for the sins of the world

The Islamic deduction is that Allah cannot have a consort, i.e. a husband, wife, spouse, companion, associate or partner (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. s v consort). Thus, Allah cannot have a son who died on the cross to provide salvation for people’s sins.

f. Islam confirms this of Jesus (Asa):

(1) Christ Jesus was the Messiah, son of Mary, and was a created being (Quran 3:45-47);

(2) Jesus was created, like Adam as a man, from the dust when God said, ‘Be’, and he was brought into existence (Quran 3:59);

(3) Jesus performed miracles (Quran 3:49);

(4) Jesus was not crucified but another man like him was killed in his place (Quran 4:157).

For further reading: I recommend these three articles about the Isa (Jesus) of Islam when compared with the Jesus of the Christian Scriptures:

E. Differences between Islam and Christianity

The above evidence should demonstrate clearly that the nature and attributes of Allah are quite different to those of Jehovah, the Almighty God. Allah and Jehovah do not refer to the same God.

The Jesus revealed in Scripture is not the Jesus (Isa) of Islam. This especially relates to Jesus’ origin and his crucifixion. The Christian understanding is that Jesus has always existed as John 1:1 confirms, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Historically, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were the turning point in history and in making salvation available for all people. See Luke 23:26-56 and Luke 24:1-49 for confirmation of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in history. Evidence of Jesus’ atoning death for the sins of the world is found in Scriptures such as John 3:16-18 and 1 John 2:2.

F. What can we expect before Jesus’ return?

Mark 13:18-27 (New Living Translation) tells us what we can anticipate before Christ’s second coming:

And pray that your flight will not be in winter. For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!

“At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[15]

Then everyone will see the Son of Man[16] coming on the clouds with great power and glory[17]. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world[18]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

Therefore, before Jesus’ Second Coming, we can expect ‘greater anguish’ than at any time since the creation of the world. That sure sounds like catastrophic events. Unless God calls an end to this horrific distress, not a single person would survive in the world. But God will shorten the terror because of his elect believers. If it were not for Christians in the world at that time, God would destroy the whole of humanity. During this time there will be the actions of false messiahs and false prophets performing false miracles.

However, Jesus, the Son of Man, will come in the clouds and with great power and glory and he will put an end to the catastrophe.

G. Conclusion

On the human level, I see the future as very bleak for the West and for Christians. What we have seen on September 11, 2001, in Paris on 13 November 2015, and in Mali on 20 November 2015, should tell us that the Jihadist Muslims of IS are deadly serious about attacks on the West. The verses cited above from the Quran indicate that violence is one of the core values of Islam.

Genuine Muslims committed to Allah and the Quran are devoted to violence towards nonbelievers.

But there is hope – the blessed hope – for every Christian who has put his or her faith in Christ alone for salvation. This is stated clearly in Titus 2:11-13 (ESV):

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (emphasis added).

See also my other articles:

This glorious return of Jesus Christ to end all of the trauma on earth is beautifully anticipated in this Gospel song:

What A Day That Will Be [19]

Words and Music by Jim Hill

Mark 14:62
“And Jesus said, I AM:
and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power,
and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

v.1

There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

v. 2

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus

Here are a couple versions of this very appropriate song for the theme of this article, when there will be ultimate peace.

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(Jim Hill, courtesy Youtube.com)

3d-red-star-small Bill & Gloria Gaither (1) – here the composer of the song, Jim Hill, sings the song.

3d-red-star-small Jim Hill, Donnie Sumner & Jimmy Blackwood.

Works consulted

Bar, S 2004. The religious sources of Islamic terrorism. Policy Review 125 (online), June & July, 27-37. Research Library, American Civil Liberties Union. Available at: https://action.aclu.org/files/fbimappingfoia/20111019/ACLURM001331.pdf (Accessed 23 November 2015).

BBC News 2002. Turkey’s charismatic pro-Islamic leader. World edition (online), 4 November. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2270642.stm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Carol, S 2015. Understanding the Volatile and Dangerous Middle East: A Comprehensive Analysis. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Coffman, E 2008. Why December 25? Christian History (online), 8 August. Available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2000/dec08.html (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Edwards, R 2015. Do you really believe there are moderate Muslims? Newswithviews.com (online), 20 November. Available at: http://www.newswithviews.com/RonEdwards/ron152.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Fealy, G & White, S (eds) 2008. Expressing Islam: Religious life and politics in Indonesia. Pasir, Panjang: Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

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

Haddad, G F n d. The Hadith[20] of Allah’s Descent,[21] pt 2 (online). Available at: http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/haddad/Allah’s%20Descent2.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Harper, D 2001-2015. Islam. In Online Etymology Dictionary. Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=Islam&searchmode=none (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Hassan, R 2015. Australian Muslims: A demographic, social and economic profile of Muslims in Australia 2015. International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding (online), 1-45. Adelaide, South Australia: University of South Australia. Available at: http://www.unisa.edu.au/Global/EASS/MnM/Publications/Australian_Muslims_Report_2015.pdf (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Ibrahim, F n d. Is Isa merely a Messenger or God incarnate? Answering-Islam. Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Farooq_Ibrahim/incarnate.htm (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Leupold, H C 1971. Exposition of Isaiah (2 vols in 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.[22]

Markoe, L 2014. Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology. Religion News Service, The Huffington Post Australia (online), 26 September. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/muslim-scholars-islamic-state_n_5878038.html?ir=Australia (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Martindale, C C 1908. Christmas. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Available at New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Mukasey, M B 2011. America’s most wanted, The Wall Street Journal (online), January 22. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703583404576079930494332352 (Accessed 26 November 2011).

Oxford Islamic Studies Online 2015. Spread of Islam, The. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t253/e17 (Accessed 8 December 2015).

Pennington, R 2008. What is the meaning of the word ‘Islam’? Muslim Voices, October 1. Available at: http://muslimvoices.org/word-islam-meaning/ (Accessed 1 December 2015).

Roberts, M 2010. Seeking the peace of Christ: Christianity and peacemaking. Patheos (online). Available at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/seeking-the-peace-of-christ-christianity-and-peacemaking/ (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Robertson, A T 1930. Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark, vol 1. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Sales, L 2015. Reporter: H Cooper, ‘This is the man with the balance of power in NSW – Fred Nile’. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 7.30 (online), 16 April. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4218034.htm (Accessed 24 November 2015).

Sandeman, J 2014. Two Australian denominations face big challenges. Bible Society Live light (online), 11 July. Available at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/two-australian-denominations-face-big-challenges (Accessed 1 December 2015).

SBS News 2014. Explainer: What is Daesh? What’s in a name? (online). Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/12/04/explainer-what-daesh-whats-name (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Shamoun, S n d. Is Allah the God of the Bible? Answering Islam (online). Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Sookhdeo, P 2005. The myth of moderate Islam. The Spectator (online), 30 July. Available at: http://new.spectator.co.uk/2005/07/the-myth-of-moderate-islam/ (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Stowe, R 2000. Newark’s Disastrous Decline Under Spong: Post-Mortem of a Bishop’s Tenure. David Virtue (online), August 16. Available at: http://listserv.virtueonline.org/pipermail/virtueonline_listserv.virtueonline.org/2000-August/001571.html (Accessed 1 December 2015).

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

Yavuz, M H 2009. Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey. Cambridge Middle East Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (introduction available online at: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/88783/excerpt/9780521888783_excerpt.pdf (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Notes


[1] Most often the documentation from the Quran is given as Surah, which means chapter. However, throughout this article I will use Quran instead of Surah, for the benefit of non-Muslims.

[2] Christian Forums.net 2015. Christianity & Other Religions, ‘Islam – a religion of peace’, Classik#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/islam-a-religion-of-peace.62184/ (Accessed 1 December 2015). You’ll find a variation of this letter at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=620333818078936&id=283008705144784; https://plus.google.com/103745661768802901128/posts/U7x62k3pHkK; an exact replica of this hand-written letter is on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/afsh_9/status/619263580484059136 and https://twitter.com/ehsankhaniyc/status/626771542160965632 (Accessed 1 December 2015).

[3] Christian Forums, ibid., gerbilgirl#6.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#13.

[5] See Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. s v Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan (Accessed 26 November 2015).

[6] No pagination was given in the partial online edition from which this quote was obtained.

[7] The correct spelling is Tel Aviv.

[8] ABC News (Australia), 17 May 2011, reported, ‘Muslim group wants sharia law in Australia’ (online). Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-17/muslim-group-wants-sharia-law-in-australia/2717096 (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[9] There is an article by Bilveer Singh on ‘The challenge of militant Islam and terrorism in Indonesia’ (2010), but I do not have access to it.

[10] “Letters,” Journey, November 2007, p. 15. Journey is published by the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod.

[11] This information is gleaned with assistance from Thiessen (1949:138-140).

[12] ‘The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038…. Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts…. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. about A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata I.21) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus…. Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help’ (Martindale 1908). However, where did the birthday celebration of December 25 originate? ‘Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ’s birth and his baptism. Most easterners eventually adopted December 25’ (Coffman 2008).

[13] Abrogation means, ‘to end or cancel (something) in a formal and official way: to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility)’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. S v abrogation), available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrogation (Accessed 28 November 2015). This means that in the Quran, Muhammad’s revelation said to do one thing but in a few verses later or in other verses that teaching was called off; it was reversed. He changed his mind.

[14] Much of the material in this section is taken from Ibrahim (n d) who is a former Muslim who became a Christian convert by comparing the Islamic view of God and Jesus to that revealed in the Christian Scriptures.

[15] The footnote stated: ‘See Isa 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:10’.

[16] The footnote stated, ‘“Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself’.

[17] The footnote stated, ‘See Dan 7:13’.

[18] The footnote stated, ‘Greek from the four winds’.

[19] Available at: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/sounds/Hymns/what_a_day_that_will_be.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[20] Hadith, from the Arabic meaning ‘News’ or ‘Story, also spelled Hadit, was ‘a record of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, revered and received as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Quran’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. S v Hadith), available at: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Hadith (Accessed 28 November 2015).

[21] Islamic scholars differ concerning the meaning of Allah’s descent (see Haddad n d, pt 1).

[22] This was formerly published in 1968 in two volumes: (a) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume I (chs 1-39) and (b) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume II (chs 40-66).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 November 2018.

The bashing of Fred Nile’s views on ABC TV (Australia)

By Spencer D Gear

The Reverend and Honourable
Fred Nile
MLC

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales

(courtesy Wikipedia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation logoType
Statutory corporationAvailability
WorldwideHeadquarters
ABC Ultimo Centre
700 Harris Street
Ultimo 2007, SydneyBroadcast area: Australia

Owner
Government of Australia

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you want to see the mass media bias against Christians, watch what secular journalists do to a politician who is an evangelical Christian operating from a biblical worldview in his or her policies. That’s what I saw on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in the Australian ABC TV programme, 7.30. See, ‘Fred Nile: Controversial Christian Democrat MP poised to hold balance of power in New South Wales parliament’.

Here the ABC proceeded to expose Fred Nile MP (Upper House, New South Wales parliament), who is ‘renowned for campaigning on social issues. He opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, Islamic face coverings, and wants limits on halal food in Australian supermarkets’. The ABC’s bagging of him continued, ‘But despite his long history of activism, he does not understand why some people call him controversial’.

Fred’s response was:

“It always surprises me, because I’m the most non-controversial person you could get,” he said.

“Everything I believe is just so – in my opinion – mainstream and ordinary.

“The only controversy comes because there are groups of people who oppose what I’m saying.”

Then 7.30 proceeded to expose Nile’s approach to Muslim immigration:

Rev Nile once called for a halt to Muslim immigration, and now he fears that a larger Islamic community will try to impose sharia law.

“There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate,” he said.

“Once [the Muslim population] gets to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change [but] the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding.”

The opponents on ABC TV

So who does the ABC call on to oppose Fred Nile?

Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman Keysar Trad condemned Mr Nile’s statement.

“I’m very disappointed with Fred Nile’s contribution to New South Wales,” he said.

“As a man of God, as a Reverend, you’d expect him to be inclusive, you’d expect him to reach out with love and compassion and peace towards others.

“But what we’ve seen from him over the last couple of decades is vitriol, divisiveness and fear mongering about Islam and Muslims.”

Then there was Greens MP, John Kaye, who spruiked his opposition to Nile’s policies:

“Fred has always been the pilot fish of the lunar Right,” Greens MP John Kaye said.

“When homophobia was the cause of the day, Fred was right there as their man in parliament.

“Now it’s hatred of Muslims, and fear of Muslims, whether it’s mosques or halal food, Fred is their voice in parliament.”

Mr Kaye said he expected Rev Nile to vote with the Government on most issues.

“He is the Government’s patsy,” he said.

Enter illogical thinking

By calling Fred Nile ‘the pilot fish of the lunar Right’, John Kaye is using an ad hominem logical fallacy to put down Nile. What is a logical fallacy? It is illogic in action. But the journalist who did the interviewing of John Kaye did not call him for using such fallacious reasoning. If he called him to task, he could have said something like, ‘Why are you labelling Fred Nile’s character and actions when you should be dealing with the truth or falsity of his claims about homosexuality, Muslim immigration, halal food and mosques? That’s false reasoning that you are using’. Hearing that from an ABC journalist would send this viewer into an unnatural tizzy fit. The ABC, based on my past listening and viewing, is not in the habit of giving favourable coverage to Christians who are engaged in the public culture.

Does this contemporary journalist not have the common sense to know what John Kaye did in that kind of response? Kaye did not deal with the issues Nile is raising and their impact on Australian society.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fallacies

The supporters on ABC TV?

Who would you think that ABC TV’s 7.30 would bring in support of Fred Nile so that there would be ‘balance’ in the programme? Outside of his wife, there was

Not a soul. Not one! clip_image002[4] clip_image003[4] clip_image004[4]

The ABC receives approximately $6.61 billion (over 5 years) in Australian government funding to run its broadcast operations. There are many Christians who live in Australia, so who would any journalist worth his salt choose to engage positively with Fred Nile’s views? There was not a single person. So, I sent

A complaint

This is the online bellyache I had against the ABC and its bias:[1]

I’ve just watched your 7.30 programme featuring Fred Nile and his wife in which you proceed to bag Fred Nile for the things he stands for. This was a classic example of ABC bigotry towards this Christian parliamentarian. Who did you choose to oppose him? A Greens MP who proceeded to slam him for what he wants to do about Islamic migration and Fred’s support for the James Packer casino.

If the ABC was to present a balanced programme I’d just about have a heart attack. For every one who opposed Fred on 7.30, you should be presenting one in favour of Fred’s views. That would at least be fair. But Leigh Sales had only the bag in hand to bash Fred Nile’s views.

I’m tired of the bigotry that the ABC presents against those who don’t support the ABC’s agenda. If you did to a Muslim, what you did to Fred, you’d have a Jihad on your hands. But you think that it’s perfectly OK to bash Fred Nile, a Christian, while you receive $2 billion[2] in funding from the Federal Govt. It’s time that the ABC learned what fairness and justice are about.

You slammed Fred Nile with your dose of injustice. What will 7.30 do to change its approach to people who have views with which it disagrees?

P.S. I don’t live in NSW so I can’t vote for Fred Nile but as a Christian, I found what you did to be utterly offensive.

I omitted to mention that one other opponent was featured on 7.30, Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman, Keysar Trad.

The ABC’s reply

How do you think that ABC would reply to what I emailed to them? Well, I’m not allowed to tell you. But I can say, from my perspective, it was not favourable towards the content of my complaint to it about Fred Nile’s views.

But it did make sure that I couldn’t tell you exactly what it said, by making this claim at the end of the email received from a person at ABC’s ‘Audience and Consumer Affairs’ on 20 April 2015. It stated:

The information contained in this email and any attachment is confidential and may contain legally privileged or copyright material. It is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are not permitted to disseminate, distribute or copy this email or any attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. The ABC does not represent or warrant that this transmission is secure or virus free. Before opening any attachment you should check for viruses. The ABC’s liability is limited to resupplying any email and attachments.

I can’t even give you my response to this reply because I included some quotes from the ABCs reply.

Conclusion

The overall emphasis of the 7.30 story on Fred Nile was to paint this politician who could hold the balance of power as an extremist who doesn’t represent what the Greens MP or the Islamic association promotes.

There’s a lesson here for all Christians who want to engage in public issues through cultural apologetics. Be prepared for antagonistic bashing from mass media journalists and their producers.

New South Wales Legislative Council (55th Parliament)

Coat of arms or logo

Upper house (since 1856) of the Parliament of New South Wales

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] I sent this via an online complaints form to the ABC on Thursday, 16 April 2015, and at my request I received a copy of my complaint by email reply. I await a response from the ABC, but I’m not holding my breath expecting them to do anything by way of change of editorial policy. However, they need to hear my protests and reasons for it.

[2] Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, on his website stated, ‘the Government’s continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.61 billion over the same five year period’ (FAQs on ABC and SBS, 19 December 2014, Malcolm Turnbull MP).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Does the Bible support slavery?

Photograph of a slave boy in Zanzibar. ‘An Arab master’s punishment for a slight offence. ‘ c. 1890 (photograph ourtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Claims are made that the Bible supports slavery and that the people of contemporary culture should be able to choose their own values. Here are a few examples of such statements:

  • ‘If you are truthful to the Bible, would you not agree with me that St Paul supports slavery while we today are dead opposed to it? That morality even in the Bible has changed?’ (Greneknight #64, Christian Forums, 22 August 2012)
  • ‘Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do.  Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves. Many Jews and Christians will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants.  Many translations of the Bible use the word “servant”, “bondservant”, or “manservant” instead of “slave” to make the Bible seem less immoral than it really is.  While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn’t mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and treated worse than livestock (‘Slavery in the Bible’, Evil Bible.com).
  • ‘If the Bible is written by God, and these are the words of the Lord, then you can come to only one possible conclusion: God is an impressive advocate of slavery and is fully supportive of the concept.

If you are a Christian, I realize that what I am about to suggest is uncomfortable. However, it is crucial to the conversation that we are having in this book. What I wish to suggest to you is that these pro-slavery passages in the Bible provide all the evidence that we need to prove that God did not write the Bible. Simply put: there is no way that an all-loving God would also be a staunch supporter of slavery.

What does your common sense tell you about God? Doesn’t it seem that an all-loving, just God would think of slavery as an abomination just like any normal human being does? If any sort of all-knowing, all-loving God had written the Bible, shouldn’t the Bible say, “Slavery is wrong — you may have no slaves”? Shouldn’t one of the Commandments say, “thou shalt not enslave”?’ (Why does God love slavery?)

A glimpse into the Old Testament view

In the Old Testament, there were at least 6 ways in which a person could become a slave:

  1. As a captive of war: Num 31:7-35 (ESV); Deut 20:10-18 (ESV); 1 Ki 20:39; 2 Chron 28:8-15);
  2. They could be purchased. Foreigners could be purchased and sold and were considered property: Lev 25:44-46 (ESV); Ex 21:16Deut 24:7. The OT gives examples of a father selling his daughter (Ex 21:7; Neh 5:5); children of a widow were sold to pay her husband’s debt (2 Kings 4:11); men and women sold themselves into slavery (Lev 25:39, 47; Deut 15:12-17).
  3. Bankruptcy (Ex 21:2-4; Deut 15:12);
  4. A gift of a slave could be given as Leah received Zilpah as her slave (Gen 29:24).
  5. As an inheritance: Lev 25:46 (ESV). Those who were not Hebrews could be slaves from generation to generation.
  6. Those slaves from birth (Ex 21:4; Lev 25:54) (This material is based on Rupprecht 1976:454-455.)

Slavery was widespread in the secular and Hebrew world of the Near East. For the Hebrews, there were regulations concerning the release of slaves (see Ex 21:1-11; Lev 25:39-55; Deut 15:12-18). Slaves were to be freed after serving for 6 years.

For the Hebrews, the slaves were members of the household and were included with the group of women and children (Ex 20:17).

In Gal 4:1, Paul states, ‘the heir, as long as he is a child is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything’. When we go to Gal 4:7 we discover, ‘So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God’.

There are some interesting and challenging dimensions to slavery when we compare the OT and NT material.

How should we respond to these allegations?

The following is how I responded to Greneknight, as OzSpen #65, 22 August 2012.

There are some excellent assessments and I do not plan to regurgitate what others have said. See:

Concerning ‘1 Corinthians 7:17, 20 Remain in Slavery?’ (Hard Sayings of the Bible 1996. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, pp. 591-593), this writer’s assessment was:

The difficulty with which 1 Corinthians 7:17 and 20 present us arises primarily from the surrounding verses in the paragraph (1 Cor 7:17-24). In 1 Corinthians 7:21 the situation chosen as an illustration is that of slavery. In 1 Corinthians 7:17 the various situations in which persons found themselves when they were called to faith in Christ are understood as assigned or apportioned by the Lord, and they are told to remain in those situations. That instruction is given further weight in the sentence “This is the rule I lay down in all the churches” (1 Cor 7:17).
In light of these statements, Paul has often been charged not only with failure to condemn the evil system of slavery, but indeed with abetting the status quo. These charges can be demonstrated to be invalid when the paragraph which contains this text is seen within the total context of 1 Corinthians 7 and in light of the historical situation as Paul perceived it.

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul is dealing with questions about marriage, the appropriate place for sexual expression, the issue of divorce and remarriage, all in response to a pervasive view in the church which rejected or demeaned the physical dimension of male-female relationships. In the immediately preceding paragraph (1 Cor 7:12-16), Paul’s counsel to believers who are married to unbelievers is twofold: (1) If the unbelieving partner is willing to remain in the marriage, the believer should not divorce (and thus reject) the unbelieving partner; for that person’s willingness to live with the believer may open him or her to the sanctifying power of God’s grace through the believing partner (1 Cor 7:12-14). (2) If the unbeliever does not want to remain in the union, he or she should be released from the marriage. Though the partner may be sanctified through the life and witness of the believer, there is no certainty, especially when the unbeliever desires separation (1 Cor 7:15-16).

Having recognized the possibility, and perhaps desirability, of this exception to his general counsel against divorce, Paul reaffirms what he considers to be the norm (“the rule I lay down in all the churches”): that one should remain in the life situation the Lord has assigned and in which one has been called to faith (1 Cor 7:17). In light of exceptions to general norms throughout this chapter, it is probably unwise to take the phrase “the place in life that the Lord has assigned” too literally and legalistically, as if each person’s social or economic or marital status had been predetermined by God. Rather, Paul’s view seems to be similar to the one Jesus takes with regard to the situation of the blind man in John 9. His disciples inquire after causes: Is the man blind because he sinned or because his parents sinned (Jn 9:2)? Jesus’ response is essentially that the man’s blindness is, within the overall purposes of God, an occasion for the work of God to be displayed (Jn 9:3).

For Paul, the life situations in which persons are encountered by God’s grace and come to faith are situations which, in God’s providence, can be transformed and through which the gospel can influence others (such as unbelieving partners).

The principle “remain in the situation” is now given broader application to human realities and situations beyond marriage. The one addressed first is that of Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor 7:18-19). The outward circumstances, Paul argues, are of little or no significance (“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing”). They neither add to nor detract from one’s calling into a relationship with God, and therefore one’s status as Jew or Gentile should not be altered. (It should be noted here that under the pressure of Hellenization, some Jews in the Greek world sought to undo their circumcision [1 Maccabees 1:15]. And we know from both Acts and Galatians that Jewish Christians called for the circumcision of Gentile Christians.)

Once again, it is clear that the general norm, “remain in the situation,” is not an absolute law. Thus we read in Acts 16:3 that Paul, in light of missionary needs and strategy, had Timothy circumcised even though Timothy was already a believer. Paul’s practice in this case would be a direct violation of the rule which he laid down for all the churches (1 Cor 7:17-18), but only if that rule had been intended as an absolute.

Paul now repeats the rule “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him” (1 Cor 7:20), and applies it to yet another situation, namely, that of the slave. Paul does not simply grab a hypothetical situation, for the early church drew a significant number of persons from the lower strata of society (see 1 Cor 1:26-27). So Paul addresses individuals in the congregation who were of the large class of slaves existing throughout the ancient world: “Were you a slave when you were called?” (that is, when you became a Christian). The next words, “Do not let it trouble you,” affirm that the authenticity of the person’s new life and new status as the Lord’s “freedman” (1 Cor 7:21-22) cannot be demeaned and devalued by external circumstances such as social status.

As in the previous applications of the norm (“remain in the situation”), Paul immediately allows for a breaking of the norm; indeed, he seems to encourage it: “although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor 7:21; note the RSV rendering: “avail yourself of the opportunity”). As footnotes in some contemporary translations indicate (TEV, RSV), it is possible to translate the Greek of verse 21 as “make use of your present condition instead,” meaning that the slave should not take advantage of this opportunity, but rather live as a transformed person within the context of continuing slavery. Some scholars support this rendering, since it would clearly illustrate the norm laid down in the previous verse. However, we have already noted that Paul provides contingencies for much of his instruction in chapter 7, and there is no good reason to doubt that Paul supported the various means for emancipation of individual slaves that were available in the Greco-Roman world.

And yet, Paul’s emphasis in the entire chapter, as in the present passage, is his conviction that the most critical issue in human life and relations and institutions is the transformation of persons’ lives by God’s calling. External circumstances can neither take away from, nor add to, this reality. The instruction to remain in the situation in which one is called to faith (which Paul repeats several more times, in 1 Cor 7:24, 26, 40, and for which he also grants contingencies, in 1 Cor 7:28, 36, 38) can be understood as a missiological principle. To remain in the various situations addressed by Paul provides opportunity for unhindered devotion and service to the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-35), or transforming witness toward an unbelieving marriage partner (1 Cor 7:12-16), or a new way of being present in the context of slavery as one who is free in Christ (1 Cor 7:22-23).

The transforming possibilities of this latter situation are hinted at elsewhere in Paul’s writings. Masters who have become believers are called on to deal with their slaves in kindness and to remember that the Master who is over them both sees both as equals (Eph 6:9). The seeds of the liberating gospel are gently sown into the tough soil of slavery. They bore fruit in the lives of Onesimus, the runaway slave, and Philemon, his master. The slave returns to the master, no longer slave but “brother in the Lord” (Philem 15-16).

Note too that the three relational spheres which Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 7–male-female, Jew-Gentile (Greek), slave-free–are brought together in that high-water mark of Paul’s understanding of the transforming reality of being in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). As a rabbi, Paul had given thanks daily, as part of the eighteen benedictions to God, that he had not been born as a Gentile, a slave or a woman. It was his experience of Christ that led him to recognize that these distinctions of superior and inferior were abolished in the new order of things inaugurated in Christ. Surely in this vision the seeds were sown for the ultimate destruction of slavery and all other forms of bondage.

Finally, Paul’s understanding of the historical situation in which he and the church found themselves provides another key for his instruction that believers should remain where they are. He, together with most other Christians, was convinced that the eschaton, the climax of God’s redemptive intervention, was very near. Statements in 1 Cor 7:26 (“because of the present crisis”) and 1 Cor 7:29 (“the time is short”) underline that conviction. This belief created a tremendous missionary urgency. The good news had to get out so that as many as possible could yet be saved (see 1 Cor 10:33). This expectation of the imminent end was surely an important factor for the Pauline norm “remain where you are.”

The biblical view of slavery might be wrong in the estimation of some contemporary Christians, but God did not have such a view when he breathed out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Response to the allegations against the Bible and slavery

There is an eerie silence by Jesus, the apostles and Paul in regard to rejecting slavery in a society. I would have thought that Jesus, the sinless Son of God, should have been condemning slavery outright – racial slavery like that in the USA — but this was not so. Why?[1]

  • Please don’t assign a barbaric, violent, unjust view of slaves to the Romans. Paul’s word to slave masters was that they should treat slaves with kindness and consideration (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1).
  • Slavery had become a well-known way to become a Roman citizen throughout the Empire;
  • One study found that between 81-49 BC, “500,000 slaves were freed [by the Romans] during this period” and the city of Rome’s population was about 870,000.[2]
  • In the Roman Empire, a slave could expect freedom in about 7 years.
  • “When a master freed his slave, he frequently established his freedman in a business and the master became a shareholder in it.”[3]
  • “While an individual was a slave, he was in most respects equal to his freeborn counterpart in the Graeco-Roman world, and in some respects he had an advantage. By the first century A.D. the slave had most of the legal rights which were granted to a free man.”[4]
  • “Living conditions for most slaves were better than those of free men who often slept in the streets of the city or lived in very cheap rooms.”[5]
  • “The free laborer in NT times was seldom in better circumstances than his slave counterpart.”[6]
  • “In fact, in time of economic hardship it was the slave and not the free man who was guaranteed the necessities of life for himself and his family.”[7]

Islam and slavery

Do not confuse the Christian view of slavery in the Old and New Testaments with the contemporary view of ‘Islam & Slavery’ (Barnabas Fund). That article provides this conclusion:

Many Muslims agree that there is no place for slavery in the modern world, but there has as yet been no sustained critique of the practice. The difficulties and dangers of confronting the example of Muhammad and the teaching of the Qur’an and sharia (which most Muslims believe cannot be changed) have dampened any internal debate within Islam. Although slavery still exists in many Islamic countries, few Muslim leaders show remorse for the past, discuss reparations or show that repugnance for the scourge of slavery that eventually led to its abolition in the West. It is time for Muslims emphatically and publicly to condemn the practice of slavery in any form and to ensure that their legal codes An enslaved Pakistani Christian boy supporting it are changed.

Barnabas Fund: hope and aid for the persecuted church

Conclusion

I do not subscribe to the relativistic presuppositions of cultures determining their own values. I have too high of a respect for the Lord God Almighty and His Scriptures to secede to that view. This is what the Scriptures state:

  • Isaiah 5:20, ‘ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (ESV)
  • Psalm 111:7-8, ‘The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness’ (ESV).
  • Proverbs 3:5, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding’.
  • Ecclesiastes 12;13, ‘Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind’ (NIV).
  • John 17:17, ‘Sanctify them in the truth;your word is truth’ (ESV).
  • 1 Peter 1:25, ‘The word of the Lord remains for ever’ (ESV)
  • James 2:12, ‘Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom’ (NIV)

Notes:


[1] The following is based on the article by A. Rupprecht, ‘Slave, Slavery’, in Merrill C. Tenney gen. ed. 1976, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, Q-Z, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 453-460.

[2] Ibid., p. 458.

[3] Ibid., p. 459.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., p. 460.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Three Crosses on Horizontal Bar

ChristArt

Visualization and Affirmation

 

(image courtesy sherrysnider.com)

By Spencer D Gear

Contact (May 1997) recommended visualization [which is also known as guided imagery] and affirmation for “harnessing the power of the mind toward achievement and goals.” That is not what those involved in occultism say. David Conway, in Magic: An Occult Primer, exposes some of the agenda of visualization:

By now the adept has visualized the required forms, and, it is hoped, contacted their astral equivalents. In addition the force behind these forms will have been admitted into the circle. At this point we come to the most important part of the ritual… We shall flick the switch that lets in the cosmic power….

To do so he must temporarily lose his reason, for it is reason which bars the doors of the conscious mind where the astral world lies waiting. The way to open these doors is to assume a state of unreason similar to the divine frenzy of the Bacchantes. Like their delirium the aim of such unreason will be to receive the deity that is being invoked….


At last–and he will certainly know when–the god-form will take control of him… While the power is surging into him, he forces himself to visualize the thing he wants his magic to accomplish, and wills its success” (Conway 1973, pp. 129-32).

As articulated above, these deities being invoked often have very evil ramifications. However, nowhere in Contact‘s promotion of visualization was there even a hint of people losing their reason and unreason taking over. Instead, it was the road to mental health. The research literature and personal experience of occultists confirm that visualization is sometimes associated with horrific evil. Why was there no warning in your article?

“Many new age disciplines offer various techniques of visualization as a help to contacting the spirit world” (Ankerberg & Weldon 1991, p. 148). Hunt & McMahon show where such visualization may lead:

It promotes the unrealistic attitude that, rather than face a problem in the real world, the solution is to fantasize a different illusion, which becomes one’s new `reality.’ Instead of correcting this madness, many psychologists encourage it. In fact, a growing number of today’s psychotherapies are based upon this very theory. Such therapies incorporate visualization and the acting out of fantasies, a process which encourages the idea of escaping from problems rather than confronting them and working out a real solution (1988, p. 210).

Dennis Livingston of New Age Journal understood the implications when he criticised new age guru, Shirley MacLaine

I found the implications of her philosophy basically cruel and callous. . . MacLaine’s basic truth is that we create our own reality. . .
Are you poor? You chose poverty because you need to learn certain lessons. . . Do you have cancer? . . . Did you lose a loved one? . . . You participated in creating that reality . . . nobody is a victim . . . evil is just a matter of your point of view.
It sounds like the perfect yuppie religion, a modern prime-time rerun of nineteenth-century Social Darwinism. Both blame the victim. Only now, the poor are not poor because they are ‘unfit’ . . . [but because] they want to be poor . . .
If I were a dictator, I could think of nothing better than to have a nation dedicated to following MacLaine’s agenda (1987, p. 79)

Former occultist, Johanna Michaelsen, believes that “without a doubt one of the most powerful techniques being used to initiate the next generations into the New Age religion is visualization.” She is clear about its intention to help people “look within themselves to discover and release their divinity. . . It is not a neutral technique” (1989, p. 109). Even church leaders have wrongly bought into this technique. Michaelsen said that

in personal interviews with Witches I have been told that their covens have `laughed themselves silly’ at how the church has so wholeheartedly adopted their occult techniques, thinking that as long as they tagged `Jesus’ at the end of them that they were perfectly okay. In my own earlier days I used extensive guided imagery/ visualization techniques for developing psychic powers and mediumship. . . It was a colossal shock to me to discover that virtually the same techniques I had practiced as a occultist were being used in the church” (1989, p. 110).

Yet, Contact wanted to promote visualization as a road to mental health. I appeal for an honest evaluation of the techniques being advocated.

Works consulted

John Ankerberg & John Weldon 1991, Can You Trust Your Doctor?: The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family. Brentwood, Tennessee: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc.

Contact, Issue 10, May 1997, produced with assistance by the Bundaberg Consumer Advisory Group at the Office of the CDO for Mental Health, PO Box 2730, Bundaberg 4670, Australia; phone (o7) 4151 8111. The newsletter offers the disclaimer: “The opinions expressed within `Contact’ are not necessarily endorsed by those who produce, sponsor or fund this newsletter.”

David Conway 1973, Magic: An Occult Primer. New York: Bantam.

Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon 1988, America: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.

Dennis Livingston 1987, “Taking on Shirley MacLaine,” New Age, November/December.

Johanna Michaelsen 1989, Like Lambs to the Slaughter, Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.

 

Copyright (c) 2007 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date:  9 October 2015.

The dangers of Eastern meditation

(public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

The front page of a mental health newsletter was lauding the benefits of meditation. [1]  It advocated transcendental meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, concentration, walking and standing, visualisation and affirmation, and mantras and chants. However, the writer wanted to deny any association with Eastern religion, claiming that “stereotyped images” associated meditation with “dark-skinned people of Asian or Oriental descent.”

What are the benefits of meditation?  According to the newsletter’s writer, “In reality, meditation is all about relaxation, contentment and awareness. It is all about `stilling the spontaneous activity of the mind.'”

The accolades continued: “Through the deep relaxation that meditation can bring, comes an altered state of awareness. This altered state of awareness can take people from aggressive to tranquil, from fearful to confident, from doubtful to positive and from discontented to understanding.”

If this is the case, people should be flocking in droves to such a panacea. Many are, especially to the new age movement’s techniques. However, does Eastern meditation only lead to mental health? Does an altered state of consciousness only produce tranquility, confidence, a positive attitude and understanding?

Let’s get some facts straight. Meditation is Eastern religion. When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came to the West with his promotion of transcendental meditation (TM), he made it clear that it was a Hindu religious practice whose purpose was to produce “a legendary substance called Soma in the meditator’s body so the Gods of the Hindu pantheon could be fed and awakened.” [2]

What happened to Carole is just one example, that could be replicated many times over, of how meditation can go wrong — badly wrong! She began hatha yoga lessons and received her mantra, the word of power from Swami Rama.

As he laid his hands on her head, Carole said that “currents of electrical energy began to permeate my head and went down into my body… It was as if a spell had come over me, the bliss that I felt was as if I had been touched by God. The power that had come from his hand, and simply being in his presence, drew me to him irresistibly.” [3]

As the “electrical currents” continued pulsating, she experienced wonderful, powerful forces and energies. Thoughts kept impressing her mind, “Meditate, meditate. I want to speak with you.” Carole said that “it was a miracle. I was communicating with the spirit world. I had found God. ” While sitting in the darkness of her living room, she began to repeat her mantra. “A presence seemed to fill the room. I began to see visions of being one with the universe and the magnetic thoughts were now leaving and I was hearing a voice, which identified itself as Swami Rama, saying he was communicating with me through astral travel.”

Carole explains how the love and flowers turned to disaster. “Within one week, after meditating many hours each day and still in constant communication with this spirit, forces began to come upon me and gave me powers to do yoga postures. I was floating through them, the forces giving me added breath even. . . postures that before would be very painful to do.” [4]

After two weeks of daily meditation, Carole’s world crashed. She “became engulfed in a nightmare of utter dread and terror. Voices which once claimed they were angelic turned threatening, even demonic. She was brutally assaulted, both physically and spiritually. During meditation, in the midst of being violently shaken, she could sense that the very same energy received at initiation, energy which was now felt to be personal, was attempting to remove her life-essence from her physical body.”

In her words, the energy would “literally pull the life from my shell of a body.” She sensed an overwhelming hatred directed toward her, as if “monstrosities of another world were trying to take my very soul from me, inflicting pain beyond endurance, ripping and tearing into the very depths of my being.” [5]

There was nobody to help her. The attack eventually subsided, but there was more to come. Nothing could stop the assaults as she pleaded with the spirits. They ignored her. Her husband was powerless.

Noted neurosurgeon, Dr. C. Norman Shealy, a former Harvard University professor and author of Occult Medicine Can Save Your Life, entered the picture. He was unable to help and referred Carole to spiritist, Dr. Robert Leichtman. Dr. Leichtman admitted that Carole’s situation was not uncommon among followers of Eastern gurus. He told of people dying as a result of similar psychic attacks. But he, too, was unable to help.

After admitting herself to hospital, there was still no relief. When she returned home the attacks continued with incredible torment. “Although she was terrified of death, death was now her desire.” She was wishing to take her own life but was too fearful of dying.

In desperation, she admitted herself to the hospital. Once again, she was placed in a locked ward. She felt that there she would die — alone and in torment.

Carole is alive and well today. She is free from the spirits. Even her psychiatrist is amazed at the miraculous transformation. How did it happen?

Carole attributes both her health and her life to “a living Jesus Christ who delivered her from a desperate plight.” As she reflected on her predicament, Carole “is awed that such terrible destruction could be purchased at the price of a simple, supposedly harmless form of meditation.” [6] It started with a mantra associated with yoga.

Carl was a qualified psychologist with a degree in physics. He had a personal interest in religion and parapsychology and was excited by Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. He cultivated altered states of consciousness, reincarnation, research and astral travel. Gradually, Carl admitted to himself that a deep alteration was taking place inside of him. After years of research and experience, he was consumed by the forces so evil that he became an incoherent vegetable requiring exorcism and was hospitalised for 11 months. He concluded:

“Solemnly and of my own free will I wish to acknowledge that knowingly and freely I entered into possession by an evil spirit. And, although that spirit came to me under the guise of saving me, perfecting me, helping me to help others, I knew all along it was evil.” [7]

Warning signs are required on cigarette packets.  Why shouldn’t people be warned of the dangers of Eastern meditation?

Endnotes:

[1] Contact, Issue 10, May 1997, “a monthly Newsletter for people interested in mental health in the Bundaberg [Qld.] district.”
[2] Art Kunkin, “Transcendental Meditation on Trial, Part Two,” Whole Life Monthly, September 1987, 14, 17, quoted in Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, America: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1988, chapter 3.
[3] Carole’s story is told in John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Coming Darkness (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1993),p. 19f.
[4] Ibid., pp. 20-21.
[5] Ibid., p. 21
[6] Ibid., pp. 22-23. These authors state that the story is “condensed and edited from material sent, May 28, 1981.”
[7] Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans. New York, NY: Bantam, 1979, p. 485, in John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Can You Trust Your Doctor?: The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family. Brentwood, Tennessee: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1991, p. 153.

 

Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.

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