Questions

THE ABILITY to ask a question is one of the greatest gifts God gave to man. To question something allows us to be able to understand the concept better. Questioning leads to Knowledge, which leads to understanding, which leads to wisdom. We get a formal education in order to be able to ask new questions. People make entire fortunes answering questions no one has asked. Answers are worthless if no one is asking the question.

Questions are essential to Christanity. This may come as a shock to many people who think that questions do not belong to religion. The ability to analyize and reconize the need to an situation is the foundation of Christianity. The following essay hopes to convice the reader that a Christian is characterized by one who asks questions.
Questions are biblical. You see.

Genesis 3:1 NAS Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?”

Now, some may find it kind of ironic that the first recorded question in the Bible is by Satan. However, it could be demostrated that the first recorded book of the Bible is the book of Job, and here, God is the first one asking the questions.

Job 1:7-8 7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

We can see here that questions can be used in mulitiple ways. In the first, Satan uses a question to cast doubt into what God has commanded. Look at how the NLT recordes this:

Genesis 3:1 NLT Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

Did God really Say. Now, some would say “See you’re not to question anything that God has said! Don’t you know He is soverign?” Now notice that Satan did not sin by asking the question, the sin was lying and claiming that God would not make men subject to death. (Genesis 3:4)
Some say that the process of creating doubt or having it, is a sin. Doubt is something that is given by God to be the directors of investigation. If you doubt that the fastest way to get from point A to point B is by running, then you might use horses or a wheel. If you doubt that the sun is the center of the universe, you’ll do something to prove it otherwise. Doubt is the stuff that causes us to question our current situation, and leads us to want something more.
Wanting something more is not a sin. Our first parents could have easilly handled this desire by taking this doubt to God. When we take this doubt that we have an do not consult God about it, dangerous things can happen.
What happens when you doubt God? There is a certain kind of faith that expresses doubt in this way “I know that God can do better than this”. This idea expresses the doubt that not all of God’s promises are unlocked, and the full potential of a situation is capable of being expressed. This kind of doubt is expressed by Abraham in the destruction of Sodom.

Genesis 18:24-26 24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing– to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?” 26 So the LORD replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Its imporant to note that it was not God who stopped giving out the promises, but it was Abraham who stopped asking of God. He doubted that fifty would be found there, and doubted that this was God’s best deal. This is an healthy doubt.
Today, doubt and questining is needed in the Christian community. There are many people who come to Church who soak in everything the preacher says without scanning the infomation for themeselves. There are many ministers also who will say things that they hear on TBN or some other network and simply regurtergate what they hear.

Some  common examples:

“the Trinity is a contradiction but we believe it anyway.”
‎”God helps those who help themselves”
“We’re not punished for our sins but by them”
“Have the faith the size of a mustard seed”

It was God given doubt that allowed a monk in the 15th century to doubt the idea that salvation could be bought or by works. It takes doubt to challenge the assumption that the Holy Scriptures are subject to the laws of man. It takes doubt to stop bowing down to images and to statues. It takes doubt to challenge the idea that the Scriptures can only be in one language. People doubted and challegnged and reformed the Church in the past, and it can be done again today.

Some Christian groups deal with doubt better than others. A friend an I were canvassing in a housing project near our University. We were praying with people, giving out phamplets, reconizing the needs of people and taking prayer requests. Then something happend that was out of the ordinary, some Mormon missionaries parked their bikes on the houses down from us! This was a very intreseting situation, so we went to meet them. It was a very enjoyable experience (Mormons are some of the nicest people on earth) and they offered us some of their tracts. We took them. Beacuse we wanted them to know the truth, we gave them some of our tracts. Then something unexpected happend: they didn’t accept our tracts. Their church prohibits their members from accepting materials not produced by their church (I later learned that the ‘organization’ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing). I define cults as organizations/groups that prohibit their adhearents from access to certain kinds of infomation. What these organizations are afraid of is that certain pieces of infomation will cast doubt in the organization. This leads to questining, and it could follow that they will leave the organization. Therefore its better for the organization that their members not think critically for themselves.

Other groups, such as the Amish, let thier members explore the world. They are free to read materials of a non-sexual nature, and they are free to engage in religious discussions with persons that are not of their community. They also let their children explore the wonders of the modern world, to let them decide for themselves if they want to join the community.

Universities were created to help deal with doubt. Christians who had doubts about their faith would often come to these places to speak to people who had those doubts and overcame them. Learning takes place when people doubt something, when they ask questions and set out to find answers.

Some answers we will not like. Some questions have answers that require that our lifestyle change.

Acts 16:27-34 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house. 33 At that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized right away. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household.

The Jailer had a situation in which his entire worldview was in doubt. He like millions of people after him, asked the most important question that he could ask “What must I do do be saved?”. It was a result of that question that led his entire household to be saved.

When a person doubts the humanistic and naturalistic philsophies of this world, and they go with their questions to look for answers, Christians should be ready.

1 Peter 3:15-16 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments 5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.

In today’s world, every Christian should be able to tear down every argument that exalts itself aganist faith in God. While many might agree with this, Christians don’t generally apply it to their life. For example, if they beleive that homosexuality is a sin, they won’t express it to their friends if the topic comes up in conversation. Or, if they beleive that the termination of an unborn human being is evil, they won’t support legesigation that seeks to support their views by climing that “its someone’s choice”. When told that they can’t pray inside of their classroom, these types of Christians will cease praying. They will listen to degrading music inside of their own vehicle just to appease their friends. Lets not talk about how they will ignore the battlegrounds of YouTube and Facebook and promote secular viewpoints.

And its not their fault.

Christianity has traditionally taught that doubt was something that you should shut up inside of you, that the Church was not to be questioned. Though historically and acaademlly, the Church is and was questioned all the time, the average member was not exposed to these debates. But now the time has come for Christians everywhere to doubt. To doubt the traditions, philosophies and customs of this world. To doubt what is taught in your church and for you to know what you believe, why you beleive it and where it is found in the word of God. These kinds of Christians who doubt and question everything will find that their faith can sustain constant scrunity, and will not be challenged when someone from outside of their faith community challenges it.

Matthew 24:24-25 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 Remember, I have told you ahead of time.

Revelation 13:13-14 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Many people will be deceived in the end of time beacuse they did not doubt. They did not doubt what their senses told them. They beleived the religious leaders of their day and did not question what they said.
Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

The answer isn’t for us to abandon YouTube and join GodTube. You may think Wikipedia is too liberal; so we’re going to use Conservapedia. As Christians we should deal with doubt and find answers, not to simply change the channel.
As we deal with doubt, its also important to know where to get the answers to your questions. You can’t beleive everything on the internet, including this site. Let me demostrate. If your car is running ackwardly, it would be best for you to go to a mechanic. If your head, back and stomach are hurting..it would be wise for you to go to a physican. If you want to invest in some mutural funds; a financial advisor might be better for you then E-Trade. These people are specialist in their field. They went to school to get an education which makes them qualified to perform that particular professional service. Why would you not go to a minister to recieve some answers to your questions?

Now, let me clarify by ‘minister’. A ‘qualified minister’ is someone who went to an accrediated university and got some degree in theology. Philsophy, while wonderful, is not theology and therefore should be discounted. Jesus’ disciples spent three years under His direction before they were sent out to ministry. Most theology students spend four years in undergraduate; learn Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). Some go on to graduate school where they recieve a Divinity of Ministry degree (D.Min). This would be a better source for answers to your questions that involve your eternal life. Be humble and drive to somone who went through tranining, just like you would drive to the financial planner or to the mechanic. Do not consider yourself weak, its doing your research. You’ll find a much fruitful response to your question than on the Neighborhood Bishop, Yahoo! Answers, WIkipedia or YouTube.

Doubt, Questions and Research are the things that make society great. It allows us to discover more about our world and helps to make it a better place. Midguided questions could lead to disease, war and anger. Questions that are done in humility lead to making the world a better place.

Is There Bad Reception With God?

Have you ever felt that the environment you were in or the people you hung around could hinder your communication with God? I grew up in the “projects” and the “projects” are not comfortable places to live. It is commonplace for one to see spit in the elevator, or a box with a picture and candles of the young man who was shot the night before. One may even be greeted by the young lady who is strung out on crack because one young man decided that he will not live to make an honest living. Such an environment can depress you and even desensitize you as a person.

I remember telling my brother that I would do something to change our community. I said, “Maybe if we could have workshops on community development and pray our community could change.” Then my brother gave me the most surprising response ever. He told me “ forget it! It’s useless; God can’t hear your prayers in this place. It’s a swamp. Just as you can’t get reception in a swamp you can’t get reception here. He later added, “ Besides you can’t clean a swamp and even if you successfully do, you will mess up the Eco-system.” “You will be doing more harm than good.” “Where will all the “swamp animals” live?” He concluded with a passionate plea and said, “you go against prophecy if you do this.” “For Jesus said the poor will always be with you.” “If God puts a man in a certain mindset, and you try to open the mind of that man, you go against God.”

This was discouraging for me to hear from my younger brother and I showed empathy for what seemed be a hopeless situation but I sought the scriptures for advice and was comforted by this passage in Psalms 139:7-12

7. Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8. If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.

9. If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10. Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

12. Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

In this Passage, David is writing about how God’s presence has been everywhere in his life and even in places we don’t expect. It is encouraging to me because it shows me that no matter how bad my environment is, that nothing can separate me from the love of God or my ability to communicate with him. It amazes me that Jesus grew up in Nazareth. A place that was so bad that when it was heard the Messiah was from Nazareth, Nathaniel asked “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And Phillip replied “come and see.” Therefore the question lies before you. Can I get any reception to God in my environment? My challenge for you is to try and see.

The Theological Exclusiveness of Christianity Toward other Religious Systems

A friend posted recently on his Facebook status:

Christians stop judging followers of Buddha nor Alah. Because if u really knew about the two they are very similar to Christianity

I was immediately intrigued as to what he was really trying to say. A quick survey of the status revealed a number of things that represented complex theological ideas:

  1. Christians
  2. Judgement of other belief systems.
  3. Followers of other belief systems.
  4. Other Religions are legitimate.
  5. Implied Ignorance of Christians towards other belief systems
  6. Similarities amongst religious systems.

Each of these topics could in an of themselves take up a course or a dissertation in graduate school. That is because each of these things are vitality important and will become more important to the westernized world as we move into the 21st century. Christians are going to have to learn how to deal and interact with other belief systems. Failure to do so will be disastrous for the cause of Christ.

How Christians have historically dealt with believers of other faiths.

Historically, Christians/Hebrews have responded in various ways.

  1. Escape The Essene population in the Hellenistic age  decided that the sin (things like playing games naked in public places: the Gymnasium)  that the Greeks were proposing was dangerous. To be near these people would mean corruption (think Sadducee) and it would be better to separate from the world and its influences, to live a holy life apart from other peoples.
  2. Kill them All! We saw what happened when Muslims spread their influence across the Strait of Gibraltar  into Spain. As they were entering into France, they were pushed back by the Christians there. This victory then gave the Vatican the ideal that they could push them out of Jerusalem, this proved to be disastrous. It is known that Martin Luther, who was a German, hated the Jewish people. Everyone can agree that the majority of the Christian denominations did not do enough to prevent the Holocaust of the Jews.
  3. Theological Ridicule when Islam first became known to the west, the general idea was that it was an offshoot of a desert Christian sect, and wasn’t recognized as a another religion until much later.
  4. Ignore Them when some Christian approach people of other Faiths, they see right past them and do not acknowledge the religion of the other individual.
  5. Accept their Truth Claim this is idea that all truth claims are equal, and that Christians do not have an exclusive right to truth. This tries to achieve the same affect as the previous point–by simply embracing it, they hope that the truth claims and the “awkwardness” or discomfort that some people feel when approaching other faith traditions will go away.
  6. Dialogue Inter-religious dialogue is the best way to approach various faiths.  We need to learn something from them, but more importantly, they need to learn about Christ. I will maintain that dialogue is only effective if it leads to a clearer view of Christianity. This should lead to conversion, eventually.

Options 1 and 2 are no longer possible. Most Christians today do not have enough training in Theology to perform number 3. Options 4 and 5 are the most popular while 6 is simply hard.

 Ignoring Someone’s Religious Perspective is bad.

In the United States, its conventional to be in a secular mindset when interacting with everyday people. Its encouraged in the workplace, and people feel better knowing that many a hard discussion can be avoided if you never talk about two things, namely Religion and Politics. These things are normally avoided because they speak to the identity of a person religious conviction of individuals defines the person in some cases.  Some may see themselves as an artist, some people might say they are a musician; but if you have ever met someone who primarily identified themselves as a “Child of God” then you have a very special person. Special in that this person acknowledges a relationship with a higher power than themselves. If you are able to return the favor “Wow, so am I! Isn’t our Father Wonderful!” then you have just strengthen the interpersonal bonds between yourself and that individual, and they will never forget you when you two meet again. Religious identification among the religious is the thing that, in the past and in most places of the world, tends to bind people and communities together. 

In secular places, where religious isn’t the glue for the community, you can observe the destruction of the community. In these neighborhoods, you have violence or domestic abuse. You can see it in the abortion rate, you can see it in the family, you can see it in the daily conversation.

When you meet individuals with strong convictions, and you never take the time to find out what those convictions are, then your conversations with that person will be shallow, the great discussions and perspectives on life will be missed, and neither you nor that person will be edified. 

Blind Acceptance

There is then the recent inclination to immediate validate all forms of spiritual expression as a valid religion. For most Christians that do this, this comes an a explicit reaction to the general Christian response to persons of other faiths: That they are going to hell. When they begin to think about the sheer population of non-Christians out there it frightens them that so many people can potentially suffer the fate of an everlasting separation from God. Rather than saying “I’m going to spend my life trying to show the truth of Christ to every single man, woman, boy and girl I meet!” they resort to changing the theology of Christianity to be more inclusive of other faiths.

A Biblical Point of View

Lets look at this from the Bible’s point of view of what it teaches in a nutshell:

God is Good. God is Just. Human beings were good once but became bad. Human beings are so bad, they can’t help themselves! God helps human beings become better. God becomes a real fleshly man, Jesus,  and uplifts mankind because Jesus is 100% God. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross allows the sins of humanity to be taken away and applied to Him.. Mankind can now become right in God’s eyes if they trust accept the righteousness of Christ, of which they did not deserve. (1 John 4:8; Psalm 100:5; Exodus 34: 6,7; Genesis 3; Romans 3:9-20;  John 1:1-3,14; Colossians 1:15-19; John 10:30; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Hebrews 2:9-18; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4)

I think anyone would admit that these claim have far reaching consequences if you accept them as true. Much of the New Testament is about defending the very realization of how the first coming of Jesus Christ transformed our way about how we think about God and His nature and work. Any other claim that denies a fundamental part of this, lets say the religion explicitly teaches that Jesus was nothing more than a regular man, maybe even a very special prophet, but surly not a person able to taking on the sins of Humanity. Then the said religion would be incompatible with Christianity. Lets not get side tracked by the argument that they may teach about Love, Justice and Peace (Jesus had some interesting ideas about peace, namely that He did not come to bring that to Earth, but conflict! See Matthew 10:34). These things may be all good but they are distractions. Why? If we have conflicting different standards about what Love is, about what it means to have Justice, then talking about those things won’t matter. If you deny the greatest Love story that I know, Jesus dying for us, then what do you mean by Love?

Every religion and belief system that I can think of acknowledges that there is something wrong with humanity. (well, humanism says everything is all right!) Christianity is the only religion where the solution to this problem does not rest in what you as an individual can do, but about what He has done. Mark Finley says: “Faith is not human being centered, it is God centered. It is never faith in me, it’s always faith in Him. It’s never trust in what I can do, it’s always trust in what He can do. It is never focused on what I want, it’s always focused on what He wants.”

Christianity is by nature, mutually exclusive. Christians should be aware of this, even though we live in a religious pluralism today. Take what Christ said about Himself:

John 14  6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus is claiming that He is the door to God. This is big news! If you have the philosophy that Jesus was “a good person” then if you don’t believe this you have to believe that He was a really big fat liar!

Mark 14: 61,62 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.   Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

He also claimed to be the very Son of God. He claimed to also ride on clouds! You should suffer from Cognitive dissonance if you still think that Jesus was a “Good Person” and yet don’t believe in His claims. If you try to deny that He said the above things, then there is no basis for you to affirm other things. You cannot believe Jesus was a good person without believing into Jesus.

It should be clear that a liar on such a scale should not be trusted. If Jesus didn’t mean to say these things, then He was crazy. If you maintain that Jesus was still a nice guy, then you would have to discount the Bible as a big misunderstanding.

But what about those who follow Buddhism and Islam?  This group of people represents nearly half the people of the world, and how they understand Jesus –according to Christianity– will determine their salvation. Get the picture: nothing, nada, no, zero , zip –nothing a person can do can make them closer to God. It is only by transferring the punishment that was yours to Christ, that you may escape the wrath of the Law. You can’t buy this, you can’t work your way up to it, you can’t nice your way into it. It doesn’t matter if you reject God’s son. If you were never given the choice, then that is a subject for a different post.

If you accept Buddhism as a religion, then you basically admit that you don’t need Jesus to be good, that you can do bad all by yourself. This is an affront to Christianity. If you believe in Islam, you believe that you can work your way to God as long as your bad deeds are less than your good ones. Again, this nullifies the sacrifice of Christ. Islam even teaches that there was no sacrifice by Christ that was made.  It also denies the resurrection.

Look at the Qur’an

[4.171] O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

[112:2] Allah, the eternally Besought of all! 3 He begets not nor was begotten.
”God forbid that He Himself should beget a son!” [19:29]

Christians say God is Three in One,  Islam says God is One, Hinduism says there are thousands of Gods and Mormons believe that we can become God  ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.'(LDS Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, Ch.24, p.430 – p.431, LDS Collectors Library ’97 CD-ROM) This it should be evident that they are disagreeing about the very character and nature and person of  God!

Objective Morality

If all religion is right then this means that all of them are wrong, and whatever faith someone chooses to believe in (lets say religions that require human sacrifice, or religions which say that homosexuals should be killed on sight) no one could pass any judgement as to if that or any other action would be right or wrong.

But I believe that objective morality do exist. I believe that there is a such thing as right and wrong. And if that is true, then it also exists when we’re looking at anything that claims any truth statement. This leads me to believe that there could be only one way, one truth one right. Everything else is wrong. Wrong may not be the same as sinful, if you’re ignorant. However, I want the truth, and I’m going to do everything I can to arrive at it. Yes, its simpler to say that everyone should go according to their own desires, but I know that I am sinful and am in need of cleansing. Because of that, i’m going to find God’s solution to the problem of sin.

Religion bounds by definition. It is the thing that expresses everyone’s complex relationship with the king of the universe. I don’t believe in a God that isn’t Triune, some people do. Because this is a fundamental difference, we are not talking about the same person. (this is equivalent of saying that two siblings are describing their mom, and one describes her as black and skinny while the other one talks about her as being of Asian decent and obese with green eyes, they clearly are not talking about the same person). To suggest that God creates these different religions to fit various personalities creates confusion at the very least. The Bible suggests that God isn’t one of confusion. Religion is the expression of a person’s relationship with God.

The exclusive claims that Christianity makes is one that is hard for some people to accept these days. We want religious pluralism, but its a logical inconsistency to suggest that multiple statements that are mutually exclusive are all correct. If we try to mix truth with error then we have something that the bible describes as a Babylonian religious system (symbolized by wine).

Close Minded People

My friend then said this:

So I respect ur knowledge but not ur closed mindset. God knows that it takes sum of us to hear the same advice 10 different ways b4 it clicks. Who is to say God didn’t create different religions to appeal to different people?

Close-mindedness is commonly claimed by people who are confronted by people who disagree with their claims. Truly close-minded people would not engage in a discussion. But what is even more important is how my friends’ theology was affected. He claimed that it cannot be claimed that God did not create different religious for various peoples. Without getting into a discussion about the origin of religion, I countered that it would be much more efficient for there to be a group of religions that taught mostly the same thing on the key subjects, than to have various religions that teach and contradict each other. I believe that mankind has misinterpreted much of what God attempts to communicate, and because of selfishness has devised other ways.

Side Note: If you want a good book that will give you and introduction of the various religions of the world see the book God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by
Stephen Prothero. He breaks each religion down and shows that each religion solves a different problem in its own way.

However, if you find yourself in any of these other belief systems that are opposed to Christianity, the Bible claims:

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30,31

In closing, the similarities that you might find among the religious systems of the world do not matter if they disagree on the fundamentals; who God is, who we are, and what is the solution to the Human problem. As Christians we have to recognize this. If you believe Christ, you cannot sit buy and not share this knowledge that you have with the persons you love. You don’t love them if you keep them ignorant. Friends don’t let friends commit theological fallacies.

This week  I received a third place prize for an essay competition by the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations. I received a monetary prize and a plaque. It was judged by Christians and Muslim experts. You can be open minded, but you also have to be grounded. However, don’t become too open minded so that your brains fall out!  If we want to reach souls, we have to know how different people groups think. We have to be dialogue, we have to be respectful, but don’t let this lead to a denial that Jesus Christ is and will always be: the Truth, the life and The Way

Faith and the Titanic

This year marks the 100th aniversary of the terrible sinking of the RMS (Royal Mail Ship / USPS) Titanic. On April 15, 1912 this ship was the largest moving structure ever built by the hands of mankind. It was luxurious, spacious and packed more than 2000 on what would be her first and last voyage from  Southampton, England to New York City. Its also interesting to know that the ship was funded by J.P Morgan Chase. (I wonder if the bank will make any statement in regard to this tragedy) Over 1000 persons died when the ship broke into two–710 survivors were left in lifeboats that weren’t filled to the max. Everyone associated with the event is now dead.

But where was God?

This is a question people ask when disaster’s happen. And no doubt this question has been asked many times since the event. Is it possible to trace God’s hand in this event? It is possible to understand it through His eyes? Some would say that God didn’t care about these people, that He could have simply moved the iceberg and everything would have been okay. But the Christian should nevertheless look for God’s hand in the matter and this is what I hope to set out to do today.

Side Note: Class Restrictions 

An interesting thing to notice that the Titanic was the most segregated ship of its time. Though all of the classes were treated better than what was accustomed to at the time, first and second class had nearly all of the luxury. For example, first and second class had multiple bathrooms while there were only two (one for each gender) for the entire third class (1,026  passengers). Third class passengers were on the waterline, so when the ship crashed into the iceberg, they would be the first to go.  Third class had Iron toilets, while second class had Porcelain and first class had marble toilets! The most interesting thing is that each class of passengers were kept from interacting with each other. So a person in second class could not enjoy or even see all the tantalizing things that were happening in first class. But if you were in first class you were only a deck below where the lifeboats were! Luxury indeed were not for most of its passengers, just for those who could afford it. However the richest passanger abourd the ship, John Jacob Astor IV did not survive.

A Near Accident 

When the Titanic left On Wednesday 10 April 1912 a few minutes after her departure at Noon, the ship had a near accident. The huge ship passed by a much smaller ship  SS City of New York . The displacement of water caused the other ship to increase height drastically and fall back to normal levels. The ships cables could not support the sudden change and snapped. This caused the New York to spin out of control and it nearly missed the Titanic by 4 feet (1.2 meters). This delayed the ship for an hour.

The ship then went to France and Ireland. From there it went out of the English channel into international waters. It then traveled for three days smoothly.

Divine Intervention

With a disaster about to hit so many souls, it would have been even more disastrous if this event happened without warning. But there was a warning. I believe that God was trying to send a message to the Titanic to prevent what happened from taking place.

God uses humanity to warn Titanic

 

At least six warnings, like the one pictured here, were sent to the Titanic. The Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Limited, was the main telecommunications service operating in the North Atlantic Ocean. They had two operators on the Titanic: Senior Jack Phillips and Junior Wireless Operator Harold  Bride. They were both considered very qualified and were tasked with carrying messages two and from the Titanic on the Marconi “Wireless” (their radios).

It is known that the wireless operators had an antenna that had power output of 1.5 kW per each of the two antenna that were in use. This allowed for a range of 1000 miles. The messages were communicated in Morse Code, which consisted of dots and dashes.

The wireless operators had many messages, along with weather reports, they were given news reports from newspapers and also a heavy amount of mail. As the ship got closer to New York, many passengers sent messages ahead to family members to make plans for their arrival.  This resulted in a large load of information that had to be translated and communicated.

Ice Warnings Received By Titanic

Date/Time
Ship
Message
14/4 9.00am

Caronia (MSF) – Eastbound, New York to Liverpool, Queenstown. The message was delivered to the bridge, where Captain Edward John Smith posted it for his  officers to read.

‘Captain, Titanic – West-bound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42° N, from 49° to 51° W, April 12th. Compliments, Barr’

14/4 1.42pm

Baltic (MBC) – Eastbound, New York to Liverpool, Queenstown. This message was delivered to Captain Edward John Smith as he talked to Bruce Ismay. Ismay pocketed the piece of paper, and later showed it to several passengers. At 7.15pm, Smith asked for its return, when it was finally posted in the chart  room.

‘Greek steamer Athenia reports passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice today in latitude 41° 51′ N, longitude 49° 52′ W. Wish you and Titanic all success. Commander.’

14/4 1.45pm

Amerika (DDR) – This message was actually a private one to the US  Hydrographic Office in Washington DC, overheard by Titanic’s radio operators. Regretably, it never made its way to the bridge.

Amerika passed two large icebergs in 41° 27′ N, 50° 8′ W on April 14.’

14/4 7.30pm

Californian (MWL) – This message was actually to Antillian (MJL), but overheard by Titanic’s radio operators. This was delivered by Bride to the bridge, although Captain Edward John Smith was not made aware of it. He was in the a la carte restaurant, dining with the Wideners.

‘To Captain, Antillian: Six-thirty pm, apparent ship’s time; latitude 42° 3′ N, longitude 49° 9′ W. Three large bergs 5 miles to the southward of us.  Regards, Lord.’

14/4 9.40pm

Mesaba (MMU) – This message never reached the bridge. Harold Bride was getting some much needed sleep, and Jack Phillips was busy on the key sending and receiving commercial traffic to Cape Race.

‘From Mesaba to Titanic . In latitude 42° N to 41° 25′,  longitude 49° W to longitude 50° 30′ W, saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs, also field ice, weather good, clear.’

You can read more about the geographic reprsentation of the reported areas where the icebergs were reported here.

About forty minutes before Titanic began to sink, another message was sent to her by the S.S. Californian.  The ship was in the same ice-field that Titanic was approaching, and was stuck in it. The Californian sent a message to the Titanic without the MSG prefix (which would require a response from the Bridge).  Phillips, maybe beacuse he was tired or he was trying to send out all of those reports the passengers wanted sent out,  replied to the Californian  with a message of “D-D-D,” meaning shut up. Can you believe it? So, the Californian turned off their radio. When the Titanic sent out distress signals, the S.S. Californian which was only a few miles from the sinking ship.

So the Titanic was notified of the danger, and due to the stubbornness of some of the crew, and the myth of the “unsinkable ship”, they went full speed ahead. They saw the iceberg, made a turn and it hit it. At first they thought it was a minor scrape, but they did not know of the 300-foot gash well below the ship’s waterline.

When the captain assessed the damage, he predicted the ship would last about an hour. The minutes that followed would forever be encased in human minds until this very day. With over 40,000 tons of water filling the ship, it began to sank.

There are tales of a band playing Nearer my God to thee as the ship sank. This song would be played during the many benefit concerts that raised money for the victims of the tragedy, including their families.

This clip from the Titanic Movie(1997) seems to best capture the sadness of the event.


At least among those men, Faith was still alive and well in their hearts. Titanic carried a total of 20 lifeboats which could support about 1/3 of the total capacity of the ship. This was considered well above the standard of the day as the thought was that the boats would be used to ferry passengers to and from any other large boat that would be there for the rescue, in the unlikely event that something would occur.

The demise of the Titanic lead to drastic changes in safety regulation of Navel vessels. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) was created to create global changes in the way ships were ran. 24 hour radio operators were made standard, and all messages dealing with the navigation of the ship were made the highest priority always, regardless of heading. There are also numerous other improvements that are still in effect to this day.

So God did not let this happen without warning. When I consider this, I thank Him for the warning messages. I could see Him crying out as the ship sank, with tears in His eyes as people fell victim to hyperthermia. We need to stay watch to the messages that God sends in our life, and be forever watchful of His hand when tragedy strikes.

The Logical End of Abortion

Abortion is an evil in the society that we live in. It is evil because it promotes ideas and assumptions that are contrary to the idea that human life is sacred and made in the image of God. Apart from that, once you logically permit abortion of human fetuses in your mind as a justifiable position, you are forced to conclude the same about other ideas as well. What ideas you ask? Alberto Giubilini,and Francesca Minerva are philosophers and ethicist from the University of Milan, Italy and the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. They teamed up to produce a paper called After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? it can be found here. In this paper they make the argument that since it is morally acceptable that a child can be terminated prior to birth, it is also morally acceptable that a child be terminated After Birth Also.

While I have used this argument numerous times in the past with debates with persons who support the termination of fetuses, they usually say that the baby has a different status once it is born. The paper makes the case that it doesn’t mean a thing. Here is the argument:

  1. Both fetuses and newborns do not have the “same moral status” as actual persons,
  2. Both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and
  3. Adoption is not always in the best interest of “actual people”, the authors argue that what we call ˜after-birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Lets break it down one by one.

Both fetuses and newborns do not have the “same moral status” as actual persons

An “Actual Person” is defined by Giubilini as an organism that has “aims”. This allows Giubilini to distinguish between a baby and a fetus from a dog or a teenager. For a baby and a fetus can be said not to have any goals or desires. While a dog may be said to “want” things. This makes the newborn a “potential person” and since a potential person cannot be harmed if killed (because it has no aims or wants or feelings, thus it would not care if it was killed) it would then cause no harm to anyone to terminate a potential person.

The problem with this argument from a humanist perspective would be nil. However, from a Christian perspective this poses many problems. How does one determine if a person’s life isn’t worth living? How can we truly say that living in a world with unexplainable pain gives a person the right not to live? Jesus Christ took upon himself humanity, which was arguably a larger degree of “shock” than it is from a normal human being to one who has to go through intense daily suffering. How does a person terminate another person’s right to comprehend salvation? What about the fight for the right to live?

The reason is that, unlike the case of death of an
existing person, failing to bring a new person into existence does
not prevent anyone from accomplishing any of her future aims.(p.2)

Lets restate that in the contra-positive: to bring a new person into existence allows the person to accomplish their future aims.

The problem is that if you do not allow abortion, you allow future people to accomplish their aims. Though if you do not allow these people to come into existence, they will not have any aims. Not only does it not take into account the aims that God might have for a person, but it negates the would be aims of individuals and ascribes them to zero. Isn’t a world where more people had aims, goals and dreams more desirable than a world with fewer of these?

By the way, if a person is defined not by simply being human but by “aims” then many non-human beings would be considered “persons” and should be afforded the rights that human persons enjoy.

I do appreciate that Giubilini does bring up the fact that some people with sever mental disabilities do report to be happy, but then the argument is brought up about the burden placed upon the families. This “unbearable” burden that some people have to carry is one that these philosophers feel is far more desirable to get rid of than to keep for the sake of a person’s life. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one anothers burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” It is the duty of society to bear each others burdens when they are unbearable for any one of us. We are are brother’s keeper.A Sure, we should avoid suffering as much as possible, but we should not allow another person (potential or otherwise) to perish so that we can be conformable.

Culture of Death

The above idea is one that is apart of what I call our “culture of death”.

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.(P.2)

The above practices should be shunned because they all have one idea (which was something that I did not see before), that the human being by itself has no value.  (As a side note, in war, people do have value and they have the right to fight for their lives, but that’s a different story).

Proverbs 8:36 But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death.

Adoption is not always in the best interest of “actual people”, the authors argue that what we call ˜after-birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

The claim is made that there is much psychological harm in adoption because unlike murder, you might still wonder where your child is and you never receive the acceptance that there isn’t anything you can do about it so you’d better move on. What I say is that it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable you are: the fact that a person is living and growing and has the potential to be happy is worth more than the pain you’re going through. And I say that with much care. Our culture of convince is leading to a culture of death. WhereA those who can’t defend themselves (the potential people) are being trampled underfoot by non other than their parents.

In closing, Abortion leads to infanticide. The ethicist have shown that killing a baby is no different that killing a fetus.A As a Christian, I’m committed to exposing the lack of dignity for human life that is implicitly preached by the practice of Abortion.

-Spencer