We must be cautious about following in their footsteps and avoiding pitfalls and compromises in our witness. That’s because there is a cosmic gravitational pull away from the authority of God’s Word, and it’s as old as the third chapter of Genesis. Apologists are not immune to this temptation. I admire Professor John Lennox’s integrity; regardless of how far philosophically or scientific the debate excels, he faithfully grounds it back in the simplicity of the Gospel.  

Indeed, apologetics is often the proving ground for someone’s position on Scripture. The point of contact, where our gospel ministry interacts with the lives of those far from Jesus, is where our commitment to biblical authority is tested and tried. Every generation of the church must fight the allure of locating the center of our faith to something other than Scripture. One influential pastor and author recently said, “The foundation of our faith isn’t the Bible. The foundation of our faith is an event, the resurrection.” Another Christian leader said, “Christians often start as the basis of their faith with the Bible …. I think that’s idolatry. I think the foundation of our faith is supposed to be Jesus.”

Something about these statements sounds obvious, virtuous, and even true. But any move away from biblical authority is dangerous. The emphasis on the resurrection apart from Scripture is really a call to focus on the historical evidences for the resurrection.

Our blinding bias

Evidence doesn’t interpret itself. There is indeed a great amount of evidence for the resurrection. However, it is naïve to conclude that the evidence alone can establish the miraculous event of Jesus rising from the dead. Evidence must be interpreted. And the person making the interpretation brings a bias to the evidence that will determine their conclusion.

Philosopher Roy Clouser gives a compelling case for the impossibility of a bias-free approach to evidence in his book The Myth of Religious Neutrality. He argues that all persons bring a view of ultimate reality that sets the parameters for what interpretations will be considered plausible.

One interesting, though sad, example of a person who carefully considered the evidence for the resurrection yet denied it is the late philosopher Antony Flew. Flew was one of the most prolific atheistic authors of his generation. Yet, at the end of his life he re-examined his worldview and concluded that the evidence of the universe is best explained by divine creation. As a deist, Flew overturned his entire life’s work of atheistic philosophy. It could be a

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rgued that he had little to lose by going one step further and accepting the truth of a particular religious tradition, especially if he found the evidence compelling. One of his final debates was with Christian apologist Gary Habermaas on the topic of the resurrection. Flew concluded that the evidence for the resurrection was superior in both quality and quantity to any other religious miracle claim. Though he found it compelling, he ultimately did not find it convincing. He died as a deist who denied God’s interaction in human history, in spite of his respect for the historical case for the resurrection.

Scripture interprets history

In order to properly interpret the facts of the resurrection, we need God’s revelation of Himself. We need God to explain Himself to us. That

‘s what the Bible claims to do. And this is how the very first disciples made sense of resurrection. They explained the resurrection of Jesus according to the authority of the Scripture.

In fact, the first and shortest Christian creed is recorded in 1 Corinthians 15, “That Christ died … according to the Scriptures … and was raised … according to the Scriptures.” This early creed, included in inspired Scripture, demonstrates the early disciple’s dependence upon Scripture in order to understand the resurrection of Jesus. They were interpreting the historical events surrounding Jesus through the framework of what God had revealed about himself in the Old Testament.

Some will think I am here disparaging the use of historical evidence in apologetics. I am not. It is my aim to demonstrate that evidence is not self-interpreting and that the way we make sense of the claims of the Gospel, including the resurrection, is through Scripture.

We cannot, we should not divorce the resurrection from Scripture or pit evidence for the resurrection against Scripture. The first disciples didn’t. We shouldn’t either. The Bible is the foundation of our faith and our apologetics.

Introduction

Once more civilization finds herself resurfacing into the bigotry culture of relativism absent from moral objectivity, hence the intention of this blog is an attempt to answer the question, how did the Church of Jesus Christ, the custodians of God’s revelation of reality, allow this to happen on Her watch? As we reflect upon the purpose stated in Kevin G. Smith’s book, A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics, undoubtedly a valuable book written to address several important factors, for instance, the reasons for the moral dilemma in the world and a Church that behaves accordingly (Smith 2012). Smith, specifically focuses on challenging Christians and pastors to reconsider the philosophical necessity of having a sound biblical worldview. Which he argues is Her answer to internal cohesion and relevance and for believers to make sense out of reality (Smith 2012).  Another object is to consider that even with the exponential growth of evangelical Christianity, one would think by now we’d be experiencing a cultural revolution and that secular values would be diminishing in its influence? Our endless prayer meetings, countless responses to our modern-day Charles Finney styled “alter calls” and still the question we asking despite the presence and growth of evangelical Christianity, why have we hardly caused a ripple in secular culture (David 1993, 295)?  Could the “miles wide but an inch deep” reality of the Church’s intellectual inability to make sense out of reality be hindering the Church’s witness?

1.   Truths To Consider

In this section, I’d like to discuss three truths I’ve learnt in Smith’s book,  A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics and explore why I believe these truths are most expedient for the Church to yield to.

Worldviews shape behaviour

There is no question that (your) mentality determines (your) reality (Proverbs 23:7), on top of this, Smith points out that reality determines morality (Smith 2012).  That is to say that how we behave is determined by what we believe or think.  If we ask the question, what is reality? We may answer that reality is the lens we use by which we make sense of life or existence. This lens is important because we’ve learnt that it defines our worldview. Our worldview is important because it shapes our behaviour (Smith 2012).

Component of a worldview

We’ve learnt that whether people realise it or not, everyone has a worldview, yet, not everyone’s worldview is sound.  Adopting the matrix of what makes for a sound worldview by both Ronald Nash and Glen Martin, I’ve learnt that whatever your religious presuppositions may be, one cannot merely assume what one believes about reality is true.  A sound worldview must answer or argue with a statement and premise, concluding in a truth claim which best argues (Isa 1:18) the facts at hand (Moreland 2017, 168), based in the following basic questions of: Origin – the origin, nature, role and destiny of both universe and mankind; Ethics – how life is structured; and Knowledge – how do we know what we know (Smith 2012).

Three main ways Christians use to gain knowledge

I’ve learnt that we all are entitled to our viewpoint but every viewpoint must be substantiated by the simple question “how did you come to that conclusion”?  How do we warrant what we believe or disbelieve (Moreland 2017, 175)? There are three ways Christians learn.  In order of importance, they are Revelation, Reason and Experience (Smith 2012).  Of course, the Atheist deifies reason while rejecting revelation, the seen above the unseen, the free above the pre-determined (Moreland 2017, 435).    The Biblical Christian understands that God Himself is the source of truth and reality, the seen and the unseen (2 Cor 4:18, cf. Heb 9:11).

 

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2.   Questions I Have

We’ve uncovered the shocking reality of precisely how few Christians have a biblical worldview, as Smith mentions, as he further cites Barna’s shocking states which say that only 50 per cent of pastors and only nine per cent of Christians living in America live their lives consistent with the “why” the Bible describes. Evangelical Christianity is growing, yet when this impact is measured against social transformation indicators and cultural impact, the Church has not even caused a ripple.   The question then begs: even if only half of pastors or one-tenth of Christians hold a biblical worldview, how is it possible for the same to still maintain a liberal worldview? How can one hold a biblical worldview and still vote for a political party that has endorsed nonbiblical values?  How is it that we host national prayer meetings, large evangelical crusades, extend endless altar calls, pray for God’s will to prevail, invite the lost to forsake the kingdom of darkness for the Kingdom of light but still, vote for the values of darkness or live like the world? A recent example that illustrates this is the Trump and Biden elections which caused much division within the Church.  Trump may not have been diplomatic and perfect but his political views were closer to biblical values than Biden’s, whose endorsed abortion and same-sex marriage.  In South Africa, it is not uncommon for the Church to stand with political parties who have anti-biblical agendas.  One could ask, how are such double standards possible and where do we begin to fix this?

3.   Changed My Thinking

The ultimate goal of the Scriptures is to equip us for good works (Eph 2:10).   If God is the source ( 2 Pet 1:21) and the four functions serve to guide us in our decisions and in helping us decide right from wrong (2 Tim 3:16-17), then Scriptures provide us with an authoritative source about reality. God tells us what is true.  He then shows us how to live.  Paul used the same approach in his letters to the Colossians and Ephesians.  He first focuses on theology and then on practice.  Again one observes that. what one believes determines how one behaves (Smith 2012).

Conclusion

Due to the compromise of the inability to define reality within the Church, we are seeing the cultural re-emergence of first-century Roman-Greco beliefs intensify its opposing views and ridicule Christian values.  We are seeing the Bride oscillate between the impact of seventeenth-century intellectual liberalism (Enlightenment) and Her centuries of old and distasteful dogmatism and legalism as she grows deeper and deeper, decade after decade, in irrelevance and weakens in unity, mainly due to the absence of unified biblical worldviews.  We sense the urgency for Christians and pastors to reconsider the question of “what is reality”, using the Bible as the only lens of interpretation.

 

Works Cited

  1. David F. Wells 1993. No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?  United States: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.  
  2. Moreland JP., and William L. Craig, eds. 2017. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Illinois: IVP Academic Intervarsity Press.
  3. Smith, G Kevin. 2014. A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics. South Africa: South African Theological Seminary.

 

 

Here’s the irony, it seems as if the debate today is not about salvation but vaccination. One side of the Church says we must always obey the government, and the other side says we must obey God. But don’t you find it ironic that the Church hasn’t approached the issue of salvation and holiness with the same enthusiasm and zeal that it does about the vaccination and masks?

Would Jesus Get The Jab

Maybe you don’t see the irony, but I do. I often wonder what society would have been like if the Church treated the matter of salvation and holiness with the same enthusiasm and zeal as he vaccine and masks mandate? Heres’ why I believe Jesus or the Apostle Paul would have most likely taken the jab or worn the mask. No, it was not because of travel restrictions But for the same reason, Paul advised young Timothy to administer medication for his sickness (1 Tim 5:2) and for the same reason Jesus endorsed medical doctors (Matt 9:12).  So was Timothy perhaps trying to act super spiritual? If you’re Christian –thou shalt not take painkillers! Surely as a cultural norm, Tim understood the wine’s medicinal properties? So why did he need Paul to nurse him? I’m pointing out that God is not against doctors or medication, and therefore anyone who argues the contrary is unscriptural.  

A Church Caught In Civilian Affairs   

I’m intentional about not sounding conspiratorial, “vac is the mark of the beast” it may very well be the stage, but this is not the point of this blog.  The point of this blog is to illustrate the effects on society we would have had if we as the Church had focused our passionate feelings about vaccines and masks toward the unsaved,  including those who are not growing in their Christ-likeness within the ranks and respecting each other (2Tim 2:4), especially spiritual leaders. Imagine how different things have been? 

Stop Barking

Instead, one side barks off Romans 13:1–2, and I would need to quote it as stated in the Bible because I believe it is misused. For instance, Romans 13:1–2 says, 

 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” By doing so we are free from the fear of punishment (13:3–4), our consciences are clear (13:5), and workers [i.e., government officials] are worthy of their wages (13:6; cf. 1 Tim 5:18).

Sure enough, all this is true, and we should obey these commands but make sure that if you are on this side of the argument, make sure that you are also keeping the speed limit. Ensure that you are coming to a complete stop at a stop sign and indicating when changing a lane. Don’t also forget to declare the income from your garage sale and to love your wife or respect your husband. 

The first part of the problem is when people stress one part of the scriptures but neglect the rest at the cost of hurting the relationship and disparaging the wisdom of God. (Insane!) 

The second part of the problem is when one finds themselves on the other side of the argument. “We should obey God and not Nero!” Loosely quoting verses such as Acts 4:19–20. When the ruling Jewish authorities demanded that they stop preaching Jesus, Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  This side also quotes Acts 5:29. “We must obey God rather than human beings!” and argues that biblically mandated worship is impossible with masks. Or we cannot worship and obey God if we can’t meet in a building! Others even go to such an extreme by saying,  all those that are vaccinated are deceived and therefore not true believers. (What!?)    

But think about this… Do you obey God ALL the time? If you speak about people who are not present, you are a gossiper, which means you don’t obey God all the time.  Do you give generously to your Church (2 Cor 8:7) since workers are deserving of their wages? Do you detest what is evil and cling to what is good (Rom 12:9)?  So why do so many Christians speak in absolutes when so many brothers and sisters hold the opposite position?

It’s Despicable

Here is a deep concern happening right now in the Church. I don’t know how much longer pastors will stand for the hypocrisy and graceless behaviour among their flocks? The issues of the vaccine and masks mandates are tearing churches apart. Pastors are doing their best to serve God and His people as they are led –in the building or outside of a building. Yet, people are leaving their local churches, walking away from decades of God forged and extended fellowship and friendship. Giving members stop giving, serving leadership stopped serving, and pastors are walking away from the ministry in unprecedented numbers. Where is the Grace? (I think it’s despicable!)

God Outweighs Nero

I think the basic principle is clear: obey your governing rulers, even if that ruler is Nero, as in Paul’s day. But when the government tells you to do something that is contrary to God’s laws, then we cannot obey the government. (I know that I wouldn’t!) God outweighs Nero. But are vaccine mandates or mask mandates contrary to God’s laws — I’m still looking for that verse — or are they a violation of my personal freedom? (Maybe you can help me better understand?)

If you read Romans 14, and if you permit me the freedom to change the text a little, you’ll see what I am getting at.  The words in italics are mine (Shan), not Paul’s. The difficulty of this passage is determining which theological position is “weak” and which is “strong,” so I will paraphrase the passage two different ways.

Paul starts with his general principle. 

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. “

And then he continues:

“One person’s faith requires them to get the jab or wear masks, but another, whose faith is weak, does not get the jab or wear masks. The one who gets the jab or wears a mask must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (Get it?)

Now to switch the weak and strong:

“One person’s faith requires them not to get the jab or wear masks, but another, whose faith is weak, gets the jab or wears masks (I’m not suggesting if one medicates or wears an N95, one is weak in faith). The one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not treat with contempt the one who does get the jab or wear a mask, and the one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (Get it?)

This principle suggests that love triumphs over knowledge and Christian liberty, as also suggested in 1 Cor 8:12.  (Get this right and even the devil may change his mind about us.)

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Before you start guessing what I believe about the vaccine or masks, be assured that you probably don’t! So please don’t shoot the messenger. Please don’t send me resignation letters or bombard my inbox with conspiracies. 

But one thing that I know for sure, I am convinced that the Covid-19 pandemic has given Christians the greatest platform we have had in years –to show our neighbours that we are different and that our hope is not in this world, (vaccines or masks) but in Christ Jesus. 

And I am convinced that when we split or leave our Churches, ditch God’s kingdom responsibilities we have failed. 

 

Upon completion of this writing, I intend to explore several essential considerations.  First is to look outwardly, to examine the opinions of friends on the thought, “who they say God is during this pandemic.”

Introduction

Upon completion of this assignment, I intend to explore several essential considerations.  First is to look outwardly, to examine the opinions of friends on the thought, “who they say God is during this pandemic.” This followed by my reflections on the right hand of God’s sovereignty, over the Coronavirus pandemic, in a manner that does not free humanity from their stewardship responsibilities. Moreover, this assignment explores one of the many examples from the Scriptures, where God’s sovereignty overrides man’s disobedience; on this account, God holds the final say in spacetime. The final intention is to defend the integrity of God on the “Achilles Heel” argument of the atheist, on the question, “If God does exist, then why does evil (pandemics)”.

1.   Interpreting Reality Through the Eyes of Others

Everyone has an opinion and social media made this increasingly obvious. People usually take their cues from others, we noticed the “panic buying” of toilet paper and sanitizers which occurred earlier during the outbreak which was followed by the irresponsible lack of ‘social distancing” including picture sharing on Instagram, etc, All this revealed how social media has shaped the fears and responses of people, as Alejandro De Lenga Garza said, journalist for Times, New York (Garza 2021).  It’s a right to have an opinion, but it is a tragedy to have an opinion that is inconsistent with logic, reality or more simply stated, God’s word. Depending on one’s worldview, my views as a Christian could sound intolerant and narrow-minded but one cannot deny its rationality –the foundation by which my faith stands.  It is an accepted fact that how one believes with regard to the questions of Origin, Meaning, Morality and Destiny control the way we live (Smit 2015).  This is especially true as the world tries to make sense out of the recent Coronavirus pandemic.

 

It was a pleasure to discuss the views of friends on the question “Who do the people say God is during this global crisis?”  The following three questions help us to understand the lenses by which they filter the current pandemic.

 

Question 1: Where is God amidst this crisis – is He still sovereign over this Corona Virus? Question 2: Why is this happening – is God punishing people?

 

Question 3: What does it say about God, that a virus like COVID-19 exists?
Dr Deloris Thomas (PhD) Yes, God is in the midst of the crisis. We hear of His miraculous works of healing and restoration. God is sovereign as he was in biblical times of famines and plagues. God is love. Plagues happen because we live in a fallen world. God promises those who believe in him that he will preserve them. God still existed when satan tempted Eve. He still existed when plagues and famines covered the earth. The question is what does it say about humanity and less about what it says about God.
Dr Shenley Redlinghuis  (D.Min) Emphatically “Yes”. God has already defeated every infirmity and disease & indisposition. Where is God “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

I am not sure! Perhaps corona virus has come as a measuring rod of chastisement and correction.  Perhaps we have ignored the warning signs. The Bible teaches us that God’s wrath is preceded by a warning so that people have the opportunity to repent. Perhaps the impending depravity of sin & wickedness of man’s heart are contributing factors. Perhaps in part we are witnessing the apotheosis /culmination of the prophetic timeline coming into fruition.

 

The scriptures confirm that God is never caught off guard concerning the affairs of man. I sense that Covid 19, reminds us that God is ever-present and the call to return back to rectitude is upon us.

 

Mr Denzel Chetty In the midst of this crisis, we have seen many people healed, we have seen many people that have been protected from the virus through God. However, we have also seen many faithful people die by the virus, that does not take away the sovereignty of God over the Corona virus, but rather asserts God’s will for humanity. No, to label the Corona Virus has a punishment from God, immediately calls into question all the faithful people that have been infected or died. By labeling the Corona Virus a punishment from God, it takes away the God of the New Testament as being merciful, it also hinders negatively on the theology of ultimate atonement. God allows us to rule the earth as per scripture, however, this does not mean that God is not present. God allows certain things to occur due to freedom of will. God can use any situation, even Covid-19 to bring about a fresh revelation of who He is. Personally, Covid-19 has seen a God who we kept within closed Church doors on a Sunday, extend beyond that into communities, into families, and even into those homes of non-believers who out of urgency called upon Him.

 

Analysing some of the feedback through the three main ways Christians discover the truth. Namely, Revelation, Reason and Experience, narrowed down by the two ways biblical Christians discover the truth, namely the Word of God and Christ (Smith 2015), one cannot fault the feedback on the basis of any theological fallacy. As much as these pocket-size answers magnify some very important-Character-of-God’s love and goodness, they allude also to the axis between God’s goodness (holiness) and God’s remunerative justice (Thiessen 1949). If it is beyond God to make a law and not follow through when it’s violated, then we can not make better sense of God’s punitive justice –the infliction of punishment for violating the laws of God (Gen 2:7; Rom 1:32; 2:8; 2 Thes 1:8); (85). There are at least five categories of “God’s justice” is mentioned by Cook (2019).

Another part of divine justice I wish to refer to is God’s “remunerative justice.” The tendency is to lean towards the punitive justice of God and not the remunerative justice of God is very unsavoury.  While the world has stepped far out of line concerning God’s commandments, invoking God’s “specific judgment” (Piper 2020, 69), which must be met (Thiessen 1949), but what about the faithful compared to those who are unfaithful?   If God rewards obedience with the same as disobedience, what is the point of being obedient?  Shouldn’t the same right hand of God’s justice be equally swift to reward and distinguish the faithful–remunerative justice? (Isa 2:2; Matt 5:14; Rom 8:28; James 1:1-3; 1 John 5:4; Ehp 5:27).

2.   Interpreting Reality Through My Eyes

a.   Where is God amidst this crisis – is He still sovereign over the Corona Virus?

Pharaoh responded in defiance, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exo 5:2). Well, he soon discovered God’s retributive justice (Deut 32:35; 2 The 1:6-7a), a divinely administered just punishment to the wicked for their actions, Cook (2019).  God administered ten plagues to judge Pharaoh’s pride and uprooted His people from bondage to forge ahead into destiny. God’s general will reigned sovereign despite the wickedness of man and the disobedience of His covenant people. Amidst all the cataphoric drama, God was in perfect control, with a remnant at his beck and call (1 Kings 19:18; Ezk 9:4-6; Rev 7:3-8).

As we fast-forward to 31 December 2019, according to WHO, when the coronavirus disease was first reported from Wuhan, China, followed by its current catastrophic global effects. If we ask the question, where is God? A biblical Christian must find the courage to believe that He is still a solid rock, we can stand on right amid these uncertain times (Piper 2020). This rock, like Piper, further adds, “it is not fragile, it is not sand… it is not reserved for the by-and-by.., he is the rock under my feet now!” (15).

b.   Why is this happening – is God punishing people?

The question “is God punishing people?” is a difficult one. If we were alive in ancient Athens or Rome and the Covid-19 pandemic struck, I would imagine that the song of the city would be something like “we’ve angered the gods, or we hadn’t offered the right sacrifices,” as Piper stated it. In stark contrast, first-century Christianity came as a breath of fresh air. Outside of the Church and the faith, the concept of mercy had no cultural or religious foundation (Piper 2020). Quoting from Spark’s work, The Triumphant of Christianity, Piper shows how God’s love extended to all who needed it in the ancient world (91), especially during times of national disasters such as famines and plagues. As the wealthy in fear fled to the mountains for safety, Christians took a more radical stance. What did they do? They took to the streets to offer help. This helps reframe the taunting question from, Why? “Why has God allowed this to happen?” To the rather more central, What? What can we do during this time of crisis? (9). When people are thinking about their mortality and frailty of life (Psm 39:4), which is a far cry from a hedonistically self-revolving life. Then perhaps we have this moment to respond to the invitation of a groaning all creation and manifest as the sons of God (Rom 8:22), His love, truth and mercy to a world that needs it?

One side to the question of punishment is yes. The other perspective is to see it as “purification”, not as a punishment or condemnation (Piper 2020). This notion was shared among my leadership early last year; as a Pastor, like many others, one was trying to make sense out of this crisis. The purification that the Lord spoke to me about included the kind that will start from the pulpit. He talked to me about “theological purification.”

c.    What does it say about God, that a virus like COVID-19 exists?

If all things were created by him and for him (Col 1:16), God reserves the right to use anything to bring His will to pass, including a virus. However, could the “coronavirus outbreak, as in all other calamities, be a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin?” (Pipier 2020).  Could the ten plagues be a sign of the physical judgment for violating the ten moral laws or commandments of God? In the same way, God gave Pharaoh a chance to turn his heart to Him, could it be that God is doing the same to a wayward, defying and arrogant world today (65)? Death through sin ultimately is the reason for all suffering and misery. We have a broken world as a result of the first Adam’s disobedience (Rom 5:12). Everything God created was “good” (Gen 1:32).

 

Unfortunately, by the result of man’s disobedience, creation has been subject in God’s punitive justice to futility, bondage, corruption (Rom 8:20-22).  Still, for those who us in Christ, we are exempt from condemnation (Rom 8:1). Therefore, purification is not condemnation (64); purification is prioritisation for the believer (Matt 6:33, 22:37). But God’s dealings with a depraved world require a different approach. The depraved is not seeking or thinking about God. They do not lose sleep for not praying or not tithing or defying God (66), but they do feel pain and fear and anxieties. Therefore through a world that is already subject to futility and corruption, God could use the Cov-19 virus as He has the Ten Plagues to humble the proud and bring many to repentance in our day (Psm 136:8; Matt 23:12; James 4:6). Are we ready as the Church? Are we prepared to come in through the gate of the sheepfold, the front door (John 10:7), through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not conspiracy theories to obey the “what” found in the Great Mission (Matt 28:19)?

Conclusion

  In summary, we have seen how God historically moved sovereignly over man’s disobedience and always had a remanent reserved such a Joseph, Moses, Daniel, who did not bow to gods, but served God’s will, regardless. Finally, on the question of the existence of evil, God stands blameless and justified. All misery and pain entered through sin, yet even in man’s most depraved state, God is still the lifesaver reaching out to rescue whosoever would believe.

 

Work Cited

  1. Cook, Stephen R. 2019. “The Theological Categories of God’s Justice.” Thinking on Scriptures, 16 November 2019. https://thinkingonscripture.com/2019/11/16/theological-categories-of-gods-justice/ (Links to an external s 
  2.  De LA Garza, Alejandro. 2020. “How Social Media Is Shaping our Fears Of –and Response to­ –the Coronavirus .” Times, 16 March 2020. https://time.com/5802802/social-media-coronavirus/
  3. Piper, John. 2020. “Coronavirus and Christ.” Illinois: Crossway publishers.
  4. Smith, Kevin G. 2015. “Essential Theological Resources.” Johannesburg: South Africa Theological Seminary.
  5. Thiessen, Henry C. 1949. Lectures in Systematic Theology, edited by Vernon D. Doerksen, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  6. Wright, Tom N. 2019. God and the Pandemic. Britain: Ashford Colour Press. eBook ISBN 978–0–281–08512–5

Are our seminaries perhaps filled with young students ambitious for the pulpit, who regard talent over theology? Could the same concern be a reality among the more mature in years, pastors who may regard theological training as a sterile exercise? What about the many naïve, supercilious Christians who fill the pews who boast that “loving Jesus is all that matters” to secure a vibrant, meaningful Christian life?

Introduction

In this essay, I will help the enquirer rediscover the value of theology. I will expound on important definitions, explain the nature and need of theology. I will discuss some misconceptions and how to avoid the pitfalls of studying theology.  Whether one gobbles it up like a burger or savour it like a seven-course meal, just like any good food, theology, if prepared with the right heart, can nourish our faith, strengthen our minds, help us speak prophetically into our generation and intensify our love for Christ.

1. Analysing Smith’s Theological Thoughts

1.1. The nature of theology

R.C Sproul presents an encyclopaedic line of reasoning on what I think is the purpose of theology, “a true Christian university is committed to the premise that the ultimate truth is the truth of God, and that He is the foundation and source of all other truth” (Sproul 2004, 3). In other words everything we learn in the academic disciplines of humanities and sciences (economics, philosophy, biology, mathematics, sociology) has to be understood in light of the overarching reality of the character of God (2004, 4).  If we presuppose God and his word as ultimate truth, and the “bible is God’s revelation of reality” (Smith 2013), then Sproul and Smith both make an apotheose claim – why we need to rediscover the value of theology.  Until the era of Enlightenment – the rise of modern scientific thought, during the high Middle Ages – theology was heralded as the “Queen of Sciences” (Zakai 2007).  Theology spoke authoritatively over nature and science.  This can be seen in the life and work of three forerunners of modern scientific thought —Nicolas Copernicus (1473–1543), Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), and Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) [127].

What is theology? According to K.G Smith, “theology is the study of God” (Smith 2013). The term theology is a combination of two Greek words, the prefix, theos, meaning “God” and the suffix, logos, meaning, “word”. In its simplest form, theology is ‘a word about God’ [p. 18]. Sproul and Smith shares the same sentiment about the shared suffix, –ology, which is shared with the names of many disciplines and sciences, such as biologyphysiology, archaeology, anthropology and technology (Sproul 2004, 4; Smith 2013, 18). It is remarkable that the suffix, comes from the Greek word logos, which we find in the opening of John’s gospel (John 1:1). Albeit a borrowed term, which harks back at least to the 6th-century-BC, to philosopher Heraclitus (Britannica 2021), Sproul expands and explains logos to mean “word” or “idea”. He also claims that one philosopher translated it as “logic” – it is also the term from which we get the English word logic (Sproul 2004, 4). So, we could deduce, theology, is the study of the logics of God (Smith 2013), or the field of study where God is the object of inquiry [p. 18].

Following this etymological foundation, I think it is important to add that the term “theology” is ambidextrous. For instance, Smith, in a refreshing way, affirms that we can obtain knowledge about God’s being, essence, nature and purposes through two main channels: (1) God’s revelation and (2) people’s faith.  Therefore, we can define [p. 18] “theology as the systematic study of divine revelation and human faith.”

1) Theology is the systematic study of divine revelation

If our chief task is to study revelations of God and his truth, which provides a basis for a coherent and meaningful world view and if the scriptures (Old and New Testament) “logos” is the written form of God’s special revelation, then people’s faith takes a secondary position.  One John 1:2-3 and Ephesians 1:9 tells us that God has revealed himself and his plan to us, elucidating Smith’s statement that “we can know God because he has chosen to reveal himself and his truth”.  The scriptures also confirms the supremacy of Christ. The Son is the apex of God’s revelation, “ but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:1-3), and in whom “God revealed himself most fully and finally through in the words and works” (Smith 2013, 18).Then the task of a sound theologian is to discern what God has revealed about himself, through a Christological lens, concerning His nature, will and purposes. This must also be followed by one more important function of theology –restating this reality back into our context [19].

Since God’s revelation is recorded in scripture, the branches of theology, namely “biblical studies” and “systematic theology” [19], aid in the study of God’s revelation more directly. Although correct in asserting this, I think that the other branches such as “church history”; “missiology” and “systemics” could provide us with insight into God’s truths.  Still for the avid lover of God’s word, interpreting doctrine, systematising doctrine and contextualising these principles of scripture in our lives provides us with the exciting task of understanding God and his word better.

2) Theology is the systematic study of human faith

A wise theologian understands theology extends beyond systematising and contextualising doctrine from the scriptures. The subdiscipline of Church history and practical theology which involves horizontal inquiry. For instance, “studying a particular faith tradition’s origin, history, beliefs, and practices” [19], can help us discern God’s will for their context. The same is true for us today. Therefore, we cannot be restricted exclusively to the study of the scriptures without considering the context. This begs the question, how contextually sensitive is our theology in this Postmodern world?

Clearly, human faith has a function. Historical theology enables us to discern God’s will in the horizontal context of the past [p. 20].  Practical theology is the belief and practice of God’s people in the present. Both sub-disciplines are useful tools to help us systematise revelation in the context of human faith.

However, in Evangelical theology, divine revelation (special and natural) stands canonical over human faith for understanding God’s nature, will, and purposes. Human intervention is not infallible or speaks from the “seat of Peter”, which is evidently observed in church controversies and heresies. Therefore, the task of divine revelation precedes people’s faith as the primary means of discernment. Therefore, the “chief aim” of sound theology, is to then first ask, “God, what are you saying”? and secondly “God how can it be interpreted into my context”? The secondary aim involves contemporary analysis [p. 21]. or, contextual sensitivity, which ensures we are faithful to translate God’s truth with relevance (practical theology). In the words of Anselm, who beautifully captured the discipline of practical theology as,  “faith seeking understanding”.

 

The practice of medicine is proof - the doctor does not entirely understand medicine. The practice of theology is proof; the theologian does not completely understand God Click To Tweet

1.2 The goal and task of theology

Smith says, “theology is the quest of those who know God to know God” [p.21]. Perhaps, it is better to say; theology is the quest of those who know God to know God better. Most scholars agree that God is not completely incomprehensible, neither is he completely comprehensible. The finite human mind cannot comprehend the infinite God fully. The practice of medicine is proof – the doctor does not entirely understand medicine. The practice of theology is proof; the theologian does not completely understand God. Still, the goal in theology is to learn about God, to discern his will for our generation and beyond, through the help of the Spirit, the scriptures and in community so we may serve him more faithfully (Acts 13:36).   

 The task of theology [p.21] Smith says, has many implications and they can be summarized as the following:

  • God-focus –theology is relational and doxological [p. 23];
  • Bible-based–the revelation of God to man [p. 25];
  • Christ-centred –the supreme revelation of God and his will [p. 26];
  • Spirit-led–the Holy Spirit is the author and illuminator of scriptures [p. 29];
  • Mission-minded –the overarching purpose of God’s will[30];
  • Historically informed –we reflect on the past to inform the present and the future [p. 22];
  • Context-sensitive–theology is both contextually influenced and orientated [p. 33];
  • Practically-oriented–theology inspires personal living (obedience) and right serving (public ministry) [p. 34];
  • Scientifically plausible –the scriptures are God’s revelation of reality [p. 35];
  • Branches of theology–theologies sub-branches, enables us to understand divine revelation [p. 39].

Theology, then, is not a haphazard bible study. It is the systematisation of God’s revelation and contextualising of people’s faith. Its goal is to restate the implications of God’s revelation for our context, so that we might believe and live in a way that is faithful to God’s will [p. 22].

1.3 The method of theology

If God is the object of inquiry in theology, as we have discovered, how than can one practically do theology?  According to Smith, scholars such as Don Browning, J. Andre Cowans, Gerben Heitink and David Tracy use four essential means to inquire what God and faith are. These words are widely used in their literature: hermeneutical, critical, correlational, and dialogical (Browning, 1993). In the most basic sense, we;

  1. Interpret–into the five subdisciplines to holistically acquire insight (Smith 2013);
  2. Evaluate–we re-examine and re-evaluate our insight and interpretations of Christian texts, beliefs, practices; in other words, we become critical (1 The 5:21);
  3. Discuss–we enter dialogue with other experts on the subject (Prov 27:17);
  4. Compare–we examine how the eternal truth should change our context and how our context shapes the way we interpret God’s word.

These four actions apply to the branches of theology, to help us to discourse with God and apply the implication to our context.

 

Theology’s North Star Click To Tweet

2. Smith’s vision vs. popular misconceptions

It is understandable when sceptics outside of the church maintain a negative attitude about God and his revelations, but it is extremely concerning when the church distains theology (2 Tim 2:14). It is not uncommon within the academic arena to hear theology defined as “systematically articulated superstitious” or within liberal society as “the drag queen of science”. Very often, these proponents against God are unsubstantiated claims or mere theories.

Disconcerting as all this may be, we are not surprised that the world does not consider belief in God or any supernatural being as necessary. Smith (2015) informs us that “negative experience” (e.g, in church, family or university) usually relates to way people would adopt an atheistic, anti-theistic, even a shallow and non-scholarly regard for God’s revelation.  Another factor within Christians is bad theology – another reason why even Church leaders have negative attitudes towards the discipline of theological studies. Tim Keller makes the point that we all do theology all the time. If we don’t learn to “do it right,” we shall propagate heresy without knowing it, even when sincerely desiring God.  Truth is one of the absolute passions of true ministry—in a church or a preacher. Love of truth is one of the earmarks of the true man or woman of God—truth is their integrity (Anderson 2004: 130-131). RC Sproul said, “Unless we know God deeply, we cannot love Him deeply. Deepening knowledge must proceed deepening affection”. Unless we know the power and value of biblical and practical theology, how can one know God deeply?

Good theology is a transformative, empowering love affair with Jesus Christ.

 

The North Star of theology; keep it Bible-based, Christ centred, Holy Spirit inspired, and mission-minded. Click To Tweet

3. Personal implications of Smith’s vision

I regret not learning theology sooner.  The good news, though, is that in recent years, my desire to understand it (informally) has exposed me to some of the greats and now with SATS (formally), from the patristic period to the immensely innovative middles ages, to our contemporary thinkers, including Kevin G. Smith. Truth is essential, along with others who carry the holy burden, to guard it and prevent it from being deluded by error, making it a turning point to analyse Smith’s version of theology. To simplify it, one would not know how to start without a “clear vision”, and it is easy to forget what I would like to call my new north star of theology, keep it Bible-based, Christ centred, Holy Spirit inspired, and mission-minded. One more important thing, to prevent serving theology itself, but rather the object of theology, who is Christ himself (Segal, 2015) – this changes everything!

Naturally, with this approach, one feels confident and better equipped. The “holistic” approach to thinking theology, which engrafts all the subdivisions of theology (even though only five were discussed in this course), as Smith states it, is another valuable framework to analyse and systematise doctrine –particularly the part in Church history –human faith, I found.  Also, the discipline of practical theology enables one to speak contextually –addressing a truthless culture with the eternal truth through the inspiration and power of the scriptures. This is essential to me because it makes Christianity prophetically and apostolically relevant to our times.

4. Implications of Smith’s vision for my church

John Jefferson Davis (Davis, 2016) challenges the pastor hood. He says most ministers are consumed with running from one committee meeting to another and sermon preparation to another, at the cost of neglecting the health of the Church. He says, “like a healthy backbone in a healthy human body, sound biblical theology can provide support, shape and bring stability to the Body of Christ.” As a pastor, this statement truly challenges me. If a strong spine is essential for the health of our human anatomy, sound theology is essential for the Body of Christ. Therefore, I cannot help but ask, what are the catechetical and apologetical structures I set for my congregation’s health? How effective have I been in empowering God’s people to interpreted the faith in our time?

Under the overarching reflections of Smits expressions of theology, there is no question how the study of theology could profoundly impact a Church and her leadership both doxologically and contextually.

Conclusion

Anyone who has a less than holy reverence for theology fails to understand it.  Anyone who does not have “a clear vision of theology” and how one should do theology cannot discover or substantiate the Truths of God’s word let alone, experience a profound personal relationship with God or share their faith effectively with others.  Theology is not only the queen of science; it is the king of bridges. Life on earth is more meaningful by it; God is reached through it.

Work Cited

Sproul, Robert C. 2014. Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Pennsylvania: Reform Trust Publishers. Epub edition.

Smith, Kevin G. 2013.  Integrated Theology: Discerning God’s Will in Our World. Johannesburg: South African Theological Seminary Press.

Zakai, A. 2017.  “The Rise of Modern Science and the Decline of Theology as the “Queen of the Sciences” in the Early Modern Era”. Jerusalem: Equinox Publishing. (127),  doi:10.1558/rrr.v9i2.125.

Browning, D.S. 1985. “Practical Theology and Political Theology.” Sage Journals, 1 April 1985,

(15-33), http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/004057368504200104

Britannica. 2021. “Logos: Philosophy of Theology. Britannica”, 1 September 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/logos

Segal, M. 2015. “You Cannot Serve both God and Theology.” Desiring God. Posted 6 February. 2015; retrieved 18 September 2021.

 

 

Sorry, but God is not a magician

We make decisions to believe things based on information that cannot always be proven to the degree someone who disagrees with us, would change their mind.

Still, much like the Jews who demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, modern man, expects a mythological manifestation from God to show Himself to them performing tricks to satisfy their doubts. Sorry, but God is not a magician, and life is not a show.  

 Others (Christians not excluded) believe in God without even considering evidence of His existence; I don’t validate this, not one bit! In the end, no one can absolutely prove to me God does not exist, and I cannot absolutely prove to the unbelieving sceptic that He does. 

Eventually, faith will have to enter the picture. 

Modern man expects a mythological manifestation from God to show Himself to them performing tricks to satisfy their doubts. Sorry, but God is not a magician, and life is not a show. Click To Tweet

No, no, no!

Wait a moment before burning tires at me, “I’m a realist, ‘belief’ defies logic; therefore, religion makes no sense!” 

 

Hear me out before spinning off!  

Contrary to many modernists, who happily reject “the assertion that there is a God or gods (Atheism)”.  Affirm,  belief in something! Well, belief in precisely nothing, actually too specific but still a belief system nevertheless. To beg the question, how willing are they to at least consider opposing views? What’s fascinating, almost everyone has an opinion to offer about the Bible, yet so few have read it.

 

Why? 

I become a Christian at the age of thirteen after accepting Christ Jesus Lord and Saviour. Even as a child, I  believed there was a Creator of the universe. Later I understood better, about a God who intelligently designed both the seen and invisible and placed it in motion and that Jesus, is the Son of God, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. 

Thirty-five years later, I still believe salvation is only in Christ Jesus and only by trusting in Him. No one is good enough to earn eternal life. No amount of good works can pay for the right to live with God in heaven for eternity. You cannot go to church enough, pray enough, fast enough or tithe enough to earn points as if with our deeds we can appease God’s justice.  

The only way to God is through Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, who freely gave Himself as a propitiation for the sins of humanity. He willingly submitted to a violent mob that demanded His crucifixion under first-century Roman law. He was willingly nailed to a Roman cross for you and me, paying the price for our sins, which separated us from God. 

Trusting in Jesus’ choice to die for us is the only way, by faith, to not die the second death and eternal separation from God. 

 

Is trusting enough? 

I presume the Bible is a historically accurate document containing a true and reliable account of Jesus’ life. 

I agree that just because Jesus made claims about Himself and just because I believe those claims, it does not make those claims true. (Remember, they had not the faintest idea the earth was not flat?)

I believe there are excellent reasons to believe in the Bible. Claims, such as the historicity, literary, scientific, relevance and personal transformation—topics all for discussion at this time.

Some may ask, “But did you investigate all religions before you chose Christianity, and how can you know Christianity is the true religion? What if the truth is found in a religion you haven’t investigated?” 

Of course, the same question could be asked of the Atheist, have you investigated every thought regarding the existence of God? 

The problem with this type of reasoning is that it leads to a never-ending what-if hypothetical pattern of an intellectual investigative tennis match.  

What if you left for work today and got hit by a truck? What if the person you married really isn’t your soul mate? 

What if you decided to move to another country? 

What if you don’t vote for the ANC? 

The what-if syndrome can stagnate virtually any decision. Eventually, a decision must be made based on something.

Right? 

The best evidence

Hopefully, after you have “tested” the Bible, oh and I do recommend that you begin investigating the most bizarre claim of all, the Resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps you, too, will understand that my faith as a Christian is based on a belief founded upon objective reasoning, which leads to a rational decision based on the best evidence and information possible. 

But after all, is said and done, faith enters the picture—even for the Atheist who does not believe in faith. Or so they claim … 

My faith as a Christian is based on a belief founded upon objective reasoning, which leads to a rational decision based on the best evidence and information possible. Click To Tweet

My confidence  

Unlike most modern man, I do not propose to have all of the answers. I do not have all of the so-called contradictions of the Bible figured out, nor do I have the science background to debate things of science. I do not think I am more read or educated than most like and unlike. I do not presume or assume I am smarter than most believers, some believers, or any believers. 

I do know, however, that I am confident in a risen Savior—a historical Jesus, who gave Himself up for me that I might live. 

This confidence is based on objective reasons to believe because God never asked anyone to trust or believe in Him blindly and because blind, unreasonable faith is not Christian faith. 

 

(Except New Book: The God Question coming soon)

Inaugurated by fathers such Voltaire, Marx and Nietzsche

There is much one can admire about them, they took a more critical approach towards; religion, society and government. They adopted a more scientific and logical approach to life. All this, in the backdrop of priestly religious power structures and aristocratic structures of authority, that, well let’s say drained whatever life that was left in society.

Nonetheless, these unorthodox liberals unfortunately engineered an Achilles heel in their philosophy, they threw out both the baby with the bath, especially in a spiritual sense. They  “cancelled” centuries of belief in a personal and powerful God.  Tremendous evil was choreographed in the name of “God”, FACT!  But, is it fair, does, it make sense to judge any religion by the actions of its followers? Shouldn’t we judge a religion by the theology it posits? Yes, the crusaders have killed in the name of Christianity, still, Christianity of the Bible does not teach this. In fact, Christianity did not start with a sword but with sacrifice.

One of the most remarkable assaults on the Bible has been on the “TEN COMMANDMENT!”  

God is not trying to crush us with red tape and regulations each time you hear the words, “Thou shall,” “Thou shalt not.” Imagine a world without any traffic rules? The traffic rules are there to protect us! To make life safer and convenient! Similarly, the Ten Commandments are not prison bars or red tape. They are rules for free people to stay free. They protect, regulate and convenience.

Yet, liberals have a fiery obsession with removing Ten Commandments monuments from public property throughout the United States. This trend permeates the narrative in the rest of the western world.

For this blog’s purpose, I will cite these conflicts against the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; 2-14).

 

First Commandment: Thou Shalt Have No Gods Before Me

Liberalism denies the very existence of God in the religion of Atheism.

Nevertheless, on the other hand, secularism proposes pluralism towards religion. This one makes liberals instantly uncomfortable. According to political correctness, it’s rude and insensitive to proclaim God’s existence in public and especially not in public schools! Faith is supposed to remain a private matter.

Secularists, therefore, resent the notion of an open, out-of-the-closet Deity who shows off in such a noisy, flashy way. Staging the Exodus from Egypt with all its plagues and sea-splitting, then announcing himself in a voice from the mountaintop heard by hundreds of thousands of people is offensive!

Those who worry about too much religion in the “public square” do not get much more public or unequivocal than this opening proclamation.

 

Second Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Make Graven Images

We are talking idolatry here!

The first idol in liberalism is the worship of man himself. But talk about intolerance and judgmentalism! This commandment denies the very essence of multiculturalism and diversity: by what right do we dismiss and disrespect the gods of others?

Didn’t that bearded guy who went up the mountain realize that it is a demonstration of cultural imperialism to express such cruel, callous contempt for other deities like the Kali of the Mahavidyas or the Canaanite Moloch?

Moreover, when it comes to worshipping idols, twentieth-century leftists continued the noble traditions of the ancient cults of Baal or Astarte. In the old Soviet Union, every town boasted monumental statues of Lenin or Stalin (usually both). To this day, the image of the divine Fidel graces every shack house in Cuba. Refusal to “prostrate yourself” and to “worship them” can lead to big trouble in such enlightened societies.

 

Third Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain

For liberals, this rule highlights their eternal obsession with their dirty religious words.

This isn’t old Moses sounding like a brief on what you allowed to say on the air. “God Almighty!” or “Jesus Christ!” are often pronounced as curse words and protected speech rather than with reverence.

To take the Lord’s name in vain also means to deny God, as He defines Himself. Therefore, to misrepresent God, call other gods, God, or deny the deity of Christ is to take the Lord’s name in vain.

 

Fourth Commandment: Remember to Keep Holy the Sabbath

Most liberals are okay with the Sabbath principles, but they squirm over that part of this directive that says, “Six days shall you work….”?!!

In the Twenty-First Century, isn’t it time we moved beyond that old-fashioned notion that people should prefer labour to leisure?

Absolutely, absolutely not!

On the one hand, when the production, distribution, and exchange, or in other words business, is either owned or regulated by the community as a whole (Socialism), would this not provide a cushion for the lazy or defence for the criminals?  In enlightened nations like France, they’re working on getting it down to a three day week–which ought to be enough to keep every citizen well-stocked. It is a fallacy to believe that the world is anarchical –without law or control.

Again, God gives us laws to protect and regulate.

The Sabbath also points to a day of rest. Scientific studies have shown that people that try to ignore that concept of having one day out of seven for a rest are eventually not nearly as productive as they would be if they had that rest.

A Culture Obsessed with Business  By keeping the Sabbath, we identify with the eternal salvation of peace and rest as God’s purpose, not only for mankind but also for creation (Rom 8:9-23).

Addiction to being busy is popularly portrayed as a toxic feature of liberal modernity. Aristotle, for example, argued that virtue was obtainable through contemplation and not through endless activity. Yet, the tension between action and reflection cannot be easily resolved.

However, the answer lies in what the German sociologist Max Weber’s explains, the diligence of the Protestant work ethic and its importance in the development of capitalism.

There is much value to be recognized for hard work, but there is also the necessity of marking time to rest well.

There is much value to be recognized for hard work, but there is also the necessity of marking time to rest well. Click To Tweet

 

Fifth Commandment:  Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother

The expectation of honouring your elders burdens youthful free spirits with the dead, oppressive influence of tradition and the past.

Progressive thinkers understand that it’s kids (and particularly adolescents) in defining proper standards, not parents, who really know best.

Guess who is Controlling Our Kids

In the “Shema,” in Deuteronomy chapter 6, we find God giving to Israel the greatest commandment. The first three verses give the primary responsibility of man toward his God, the duty to love the Lord with his entire being. The commandment follows this to teach this to the next generation.

Liberalism seeks to exchange parents with a “progressive” government. It diminishes parental rights and encourages children to rebel against the values held by their families.

The Shema teaches that the parents are to teach their children the doctrines of their faith and the reasons for believing them.  It is a command from the God of the universe. Second, the command is not given to a government or village of people. It is given to the parents of the children. A responsibility given to parents may not be passed on to anyone else.

The Bible does not release the parents from this responsibility. It will be the parents who will give account to God for what they have done with the children committed to their trust by a Holy God! God will hold the parents responsible for their receiving an education that leaves God out.

For many years, the parents in the home taught the children. Thus, long before the term “home-schooling” was first used, the education of children was done in the home.

Later, parents felt that someone with more education should do the teaching, so they paid tuition for private schools or educated their children in schools sponsored and run by churches. Private or public schools provided God-centered education that was watched over by the parents of the students.

 

Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill

The left loves slogans that declare that execution is murder, war is murder, meat is murder, and so forth, but what about abortion?

Pro-choice ideologies such as, “my body my rights” are all liberal sanctified rites of passage for a feminist mother to slaughter her own child in the womb. Millions of dead babies continue to be slaughtered at the pagan altar of “choice!” 

 

Why Liberals Feel Trapped Click To Tweet

 

Abortion is not the procedure merely that removes subhuman tissue. Therefore, abortion is murder and a violation of humans rights.

The biological facts are straightforward. At the moment of conception, a person is a single cell pulsing with autonomous human life. He (or she) is already male (or female). He is fully human because he possesses a complete and unique set of human genes, in which are encoded all of the information needed to make and maintain a mature man. These genes are bound together into chromosomes, like pages bound into books, and each of his cells contains the entire human library of 46 chromosomes. Beyond this DNA library, his physical life needs only oxygen, nutrition, and shelter. His birth, still nine months in the future, will start no fundamental life process either than that which has already begun!

On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God (Ps 22.10). The Bible — more authoritative and reliable than medical science — plainly identifies unborn children as actual people, and not merely as potential people.

The sixth commandment states that murder is evil. God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen 2.7), and thus imparted one of His own attributes — life — to man.

Since human life reflects the very nature of God, we must hold it as a sacred trust from conception until death. No matter how marred by sin, human life is still God-like, and must be regarded as sacred. God’s image resides in all people — male and female, rich and poor, healthy and diseased, born and unborn.

This sixth commandment urges us to do all we can to affirm and protect and nurture our neighbour’s life. Any attack on human life assaults the sovereign God who owns that life and despises the image of God displayed in that life (Gen 9.6; James 3.9). Thus killing a human being both defrauds God and puts Him to death in effigy.

Having established from science and Scripture that human life begins at conception, we can readily see that all of the arguments liberal make for abortion fails. For their arguments to work, one must assume that the unborn child is not human. Unfortunately, this assumption — which “requires proof” — is assumed “without proof.”

Liberal commit the logical fallacy of “begging the question”. If one assumes what is trying to prove, one is reasoning in a circle, and one’s position logically refutes itself.

Abortion is one of the more tragic symptoms of a disease called sin. So what should one do about it? If we decide to launch political crusades against abortion, we are only treating the symptom. The disease itself — rebellion against God — has only one cure: the spiritual salvation through faith in Jesus Christ of all people who favour and practise abortion.

Thus the most effective way for Christians to combat abortion is to invest their energy and time in fulfilling the Lord’s commission to live and preach the gospel and so to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28.19).

 

Seventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

To which the post-modern left would quickly add: unless you really, really love her!

It is not just Bill Clinton’s protagonists who have a problem with this inconvenient veto on extra-marital involvement: when people take their vows by pledging to remain committed “as long as our love shall last,” the Seventh Commandment begins to look incurably outdated.

This law also includes “all” sexual immorality as identified in the scriptures, from marital infidelity, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, but liberalism seems to embraces all perversions of God’s design for human sexuality in the name of “moral neutrality!’

When it comes to sex, you can do no wrong because there is no wrong.

 

Many progressive Christians and “spiritual but not religious” liberals, leaving behind all theology, feel like breaking free of prison. Nevertheless, throwing out the baby with the bathwater has allowed Western Civilization to grow a prevailing culture of religious zealotry that is cruel and immoral.

Getting back in the game and taking back religion starts by restoring the concept of sin. Liberals have done themselves a great disservice by shunning Scripture as a reaction to bad religious actors. The more liberals shout “equal rights” and “social justice” the more false Christians yell “but the Bible!” So let’s start reminding them what is actually in the Bible.

According to Jesus Christ himself, the greatest sin is the neglect of your neighbour and the persecution of the weak.

Sin is not about who loves who; it about lacks love for one another.

Suppose liberals can bring the word “sin” back into their dialogue. In that case, it will pull the floor out from under false prophets and hypocritical politicians.

 

Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal

Liberalism thrives on theft!

By adopting the “redistributionist philosophies of Marx.” Liberal government steals from the rich and middle class to give to the poor, to ensure that liberal politicians remain in power.

Liberal are incompetent and inefficient modern “reverse Robin Hoods.” Reverse Robin Hood’ Liberals are stealing from the public to pay off rich friends.  They have always devised comfortable euphemisms to describe the act of theft: “liberating” or “boosting” or “nationalizing” private property, or simply “taxing the rich” and penalize the productive for their political lack of competence and failure to help the poor.  

Why Liberals Feel Trapped Click To Tweet

This only results in the unhappiness and misery of everyone.

If you believe it’s virtuous for government to seize by force the majority of an individual’s earnings (at one time, income tax rate was at 70% in the US), you ought to feel somewhat uncomfortable with an absolute ban on stealing.

 

Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness

Jewish sages suggest that a secret to understanding each one of the Big Ten involves the parallel structure of the two tablets.

In other words, the first commandment corresponds to the sixth, the second to the seventh, the third to the eighth, and the fourth to the ninth. That means that this “no false witness” order connects to the imperative of keeping the Sabbath. The association relates to the basis for Sabbath observance stipulated in the text: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and the sea and all this is in them, and He rested on the seventh day.”

In other words, the Sabbath bears witness to God’s role in creation, and the Rabbis say that the denial of divine creation represents the ultimate in bearing false witness.

On this basis, today’s liberals insist on the false witness, the whole false witness, and nothing but false witness. The very idea of questioning a random, materialistic origin of the universe makes them crazy with rage and contempt: they strenuously condemn the mere notion of suggesting in schools that it was an Intelligent Designer who must have “made the heavens and the earth.”

On the other hand, liberals have to lie, most of the time to secure their power. Their power is founded on deception. They invest much time speaking unjustly towards another person, to the prejudice of their reputation!

 

Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet

Most liberals “politically speaking” have only one agenda, create a political climate of economic envy and warfare and unrest between classes. This gives liberal governments the cover needed to take wealth from those who produce and redistribute it to those who don’t.

Not only does liberalism violate the 10th commandment, but liberalism also commands its followers to do the exact opposite. “Thou shalt covet.”

The entire leftist project is largely based on covetousness: resenting the “filthy rich” for what they’ve earned, rather than feeling grateful for their own achievements.

As Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so, too, does liberalism masquerade as good. It’s deceptively packaged in flowery euphemisms and feel-good sound bites that promise “equality,” “tolerance” and libertine notions of “social justice.”

Yet, in reality, liberalism, in both philosophical and practical terms, simply signifies man’s predisposition to “call evil good and good evil.”

 

Reviewing the Ten Commandments one by one exposes their irreconcilable conflict with the demented and dysfunctional philosophy of today’s left.

In other words, in contrast to most aspects of Twenty-First-century liberalism, the implacable hostility to the Biblical Big Ten actually ends up making perfect sense.

If Christianity was not on the Table

It may shock you, but if Judeo-Christianity were not on the table, the path of the noble Buddha would most likely have been my Choice for religion. Astonished? 

Let me explain. I greatly admire Buddha (5th – 4th BCE) in a certain sense. Like the courageous Martin Luther (1483 – 1586 AD), Siddhartha Gautama, a 16th-century monk and theologian, was a great religious reformer of his day. 

It may shock you, but if Judeo-Christianity were not on the table, the path of the noble Buddha would most likely have been my Choice for religion. Astonished? Click To Tweet

I may never consent to his religion, but I deeply respect how he as a prince abandoned everything – his cloistered life of ease and abundance, including his wife, son and religion of birth, Hinduism, in pursuit of the truth and a way out of karmic suffering. 

Defining Moments 

We all must encounter a defining moment or what I often call a ‘burning Bush” encounter on the journey to spirituality. Buddha’s defining moment came at twenty-nine when he encountered a sick man, an old man, a dead man and an ascetic. Siddhartha lived a very protective life within his father’s kingly love and care, and we can imagine that he had never seen these unpleasant aspects of life before. 

So he was profoundly moved and confused. 

No longer could he ignore the existence of suffering; no longer could he continue his selfishness, enjoying his life of privilege after realising that old age and death are our inevitable fate. At this time, he chose to forsake his sheltered princely life, become an ascetic, and search for the truth to the universe.

Buddha searched for Christ 

The cold of the sodden cement slates in the early spring morning pierced up into the severely bruised, fatigued and exhausted muscles of Jesus. He stood barefooted in the Praetorium while Pontius Pilate, the Roman magistrate of Judea (26–36 CE), cross-questioned him – the accused. Pilate examined Christ with the very same mystery Buddha abandoned it all for. 

What is truth? Pilate, like most westerners, unfortunately, did not linger long enough to understand the words of Jesus, “…for this purpose, I was born, and for this purpose, I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37). 

Yet Buddha, as an eastern prince, was nothing like Pilate as a Roman procurator, in both a religious and a philosophical sense. Moreover, the Buddhism he founded differs vastly from Western Buddhism. You may be further surprised to learn that Buddha’s religion is a lot like Christianity. 

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Sharing Jesus with Buddhists

You most probably reading this post because some you love are Buddhist, Hindu, or New Age, and you are not sure how to share Christ with them.

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