It is no secret that I’ve supported the Republican nominee for President: But some people take it a bit too far. This week I was at a rally in Los Angeles for Travis Allen, who is running for Governor of California. There after the rally a lady was going around saying that everyone should read a certain book. Naturally, because of the way I am, I ask why? The interaction went like this:
He says ” You go to Church on Saturday?!”
I say: “Yeah”he then says: “Why”?“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I believe that all of Christ’s Commandments are still applicable to Christians. We also believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and He is coming soon!”“When does Sabbath start?”“Friday night to Saturday night!”he then says: “Wow i’m Jewish and that’s when the Sabbath starts!”Because we were about halfway there, I had to cut to the chase:“So what is stopping you from becoming a Christian?”He then says:“You know i’ve grown up Jewish and my parents are Jewish”I then say:“You know your parents are Jewish, but you need to find God for yourself. You can’t get by on the faith of your parents. Faith is something that you need to have when you can have confidence in God. The Bible–especially in the book of Daniel– can give you confidence in God based on what He has done in the past”
He’s like: “yeah I see”
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:21
The Christmas Holy Day should be banned. The gifts, the celebrations, the parties, the whole nine years, Santa included, should be thrown out and buried. At least that is what the Puritan Christians proposed and accomplished in America the Land of the Free.
For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accounts as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the country. — Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England 1659
This was passed in 1659, before the founding of The United States of America, during a time where the majority of people were not only Christians, but a good portion of these were legalistically devout Christians. The Christmas Ban was enacted because of certain reasons given here:
- Preventing disorder.
- Christmas is a superstitious festival that brings dishonor to God.
These two ideas are linked, but lets explore them.
Today there is a practice of singing songs about Christmas door to door. This we know as Caroling. In the past, in Europe and in America, people would go door to door singinging, but they would be drunk, and they would go into rich people’s neighborhoods and houses and demand that they be fed . I know I would not like it if a bunch of people came into my house demanding that I give them food. This practice around Christmas time was known as wassailing. Christmas was a festival that would be wrought with people acting crazy. This led to lots of disorder. The very act of drunkenness goes back much much further to pagan Roman times, the wassail was just carried forward into Christmas .
The Puritans were not the first group to ban Christmas. In 1583, the Scottish Presbyterians had already concluded that there was no biblical reason to celebrate Christmas . Identifying it as a baptized pagan holiday. Christmas, which means the Mass (Celebration) of Christ, was associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and because the Protestant Christians viewed Catholicism as the Antichrist, they called Christmas “Antichrist’s Mass” . It is true that there is no biblical command to celebrate Christmas. The day itself comes from pagan origins, many think that the Christians began celebrating it in Europe on that day because while the Romans had something to celebrate, the Christians would do their own celebration. During this time of the year, the pagans would dress up as animals and go door to door. When the Church came into power, this practice was banned under pain of excommunication . (it looks like this pagan practice switched over into Halloween)
Things like the Yule Log, Pagan. Mistletoe, Pagan. These things were taught to ward off demons. People had the belief that someone who was born on Christmas day had the power to see spirits and demons and was able to remove them . The entire season was filled with things taken straight out of unchristian festivals and made Christian. The Christmas season lasted twelve days and during those days no type of work was to be performed, it was a Sabbath. Maybe the idea was to give people something to look forward to during the winter time, it became a season of much celebration and ungodly disorder. The Twelfth day of Christmas was supposed to be the day the Wise Men came to Baby Jesus and brought Him the gifts. By the time the custom got to the seventeenth century, the Twelfth day of Christmas became the largest party ever, with an incredible amount of alcohol being used . The entire time and customs lend reasoning to why the Puritans and the Presbyterians banned it.
Even though it was banned, Christmas did not die out. In 1679 four young men invaded the house of a farmer and began to sing Christmas songs. They then asked for alcohol, were pushed out then began terrorizing other people. People kept Christmas indoors and out of sight. In the year 1681 under pressure from England, the ban was lifted. Reforms were made to take out much of the debauchery that had plagged the holiday.
Today, Christmas might be banned under a different pretense. The holiday has lost much of its meaning as people focus on the exchanging of Gifts more than the Birth of Christ . Even though everyone in the 1600’s went to Church on Christmas morning, they seemed to like the other parts of the celebration more than reflection upon Jesus. Christians today seem to be following in the same path. Many Christians also see no problem with the idea of Santa Claus, injecting the very idea of earthly, temporary gifts as a substitute for the eternal, infinite gift of Eternal Life; even lying to their kids about it instead of telling their kids about the One who is Truth Himself, and basing it on works-righteousness (“Knows when you’re sleeping and awake”).
Many people like to get into debates about the day, no one knows the day of the Birth of Christ and I don’t think it matters. The fact that a pagan holiday was used to celebrate the Birth of Jesus is unfortunate. I am glad that Christianity did eventually win out, but history shows that many of the unchristian rituals were baptised into the Celebration (Mass) of Christ.
Maybe we need to thinking about banning Christmas, until we can reform it to be the day where people think not of their own selves, but on the One who is the reason for the season. If not, then history will repeat itself.
— Merry (Mighty) Christmas.
On this the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a new document, called the Reforming Catholic Confession has been created as a sort of summary of what it means to be a protestant.
The Word “catholic” (small c) means Universal. The catholic Church consists of the visible Church that is the bride of Christ that includes all believers. The Reformation was seen as an attempt to protest the Roman Catholic Church of teachings that were seen as a departure from the catholic Faith once delivered to the saints. It was seen as universal and as a correction.
I would venture to guess that today most protestants don’t know why they are protestant. Most pastors might not even know. In this age of nondenominational Churches, I suspect that most do not care. The document was produced by many different faith traditions and churches, and they were able to agree on a set of fundamental beliefs that are the mere essence of Christianity.
But what is a protestant? I was asked this on a plane and the question is a lot more loaded than it sounds. Quite simply, a Protestant is one who protests against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
What were they protesting? And Why?
The Five Solas of the Reformation
There are five basic ideas behind the reformation. I originally had planned to publish this article back in October, but I was confused about one of the ‘Solas’ (Latin for ‘alone’) so I went to Germany to learn more:
- Sola Scriptura – By the Scriptures Alone: Before the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had restricted access to the Bible. It was written in Latin, read only by the priest, and not available to the common people. John Wycliff, born a century and a half before Luther, noticed some things wrong with what the Roman Catholics were teaching, so he translated the Bible into English, laying the seeds for the reformation. With the Bible in the Language of the People, they could now directly access the Word of God and not have to rely only on the Priest to know what God has said. Sure there wasn’t pocket-sized bibles, but the Romans wanted to keep the Scriptures away from the people as way to ensure their authority over them. Wycliff helped to break that. In modern times you’ll find that a Roman Catholic will defer to Early Church Fathers or Councils or Canons when attempting to justify a doctrine. The Teachings of the Church should be based on the Scriptures alone and not on people’s opinion or of Church Councils or Traditions. They are rooted and grounded in the Scriptures Alone.
- Solus Christus – By Christ Alone: Roman Catholics taught that other people that the Church had declared blessed could intercede to the Father on behalf of people who prayed to them.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1Ti 2:5)
These people who could intercede for others were called “Saints” and status were made for them. The Roman Church even teach that Mary was sinless and that she is the “Queen of Heaven”. Such doctrines can only arise if the Bible isn’t the basis for all teachings. By the Blood of Jesus Christ alone we are made right and declared Just in God’s sight. Atonement can come by none other than Christ. This also means that Christianity alone can bring salvation.
- Sola Fide – By Faith Alone: Many people get tripped up into thinking that there is something that they must do to be saved. Some action to be performed. Luther was a Roman Catholic Monk, and he was performing actions/penance in order to be restored unto God. People would do things like whip themselves, sleep on hard benches with no blankets, lick up other people’s spit, and other acts in order to show that they were truly sorry for their sins. Luther became a monk as an act of penance, to show God how sorrowful he was. The Romish Church taught that confession of the sin before a priest had the power to forgive sins (make one right with God). The Roman Church taught that this power was given to the Church by Christ. As you can imagine, this elevated the Church to have significant influence over people’s lives. The Pope could offer a penance for traveling to a certain town, for example. Luther uncovered that through Christ Alone we have access to the One with Infinite Power through Faith (Trust) in Christ Alone.
“In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” -Galatians 5:6 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” -Romans 3:28 “Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.” – Isaiah 53:11
- Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone: God Saves us completely as a result of His Love and Mercy, apart from anything that we can do. Grace is Unconditional Favour.
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:23, 24
You cannot boast. There is nothing inside of you that can say “Yeah I…”. It is God who initiates the process of Salvation. There is no natural ability for anyone to choose God, that desire that impetus is given to all people by God. This Prevenient Grace is given by God to anyone before any choice is made. God’s grace alone does that and nothing that humans can do or have done can do that.
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” –Titus 3:5-7 NIV
- Soli Deo Gloria-To God Alone be the Glory: This sola really stumped me and was something I had to travel to Germany in order to get this question answered. Turns out that this was not really a big deal in the Protest. This phrase was used by artists like Handel and Bach to signify that the work was made for the praise and glory of God alone. God, who is the creator and giver of all that we have is the one who gets all of the credit. It made its way as the fifth point in the summation. In one way it could be seen that people were glorifying man in their ability to achieve their own salvation. Glory was being given to the Roman Church, which used the sale of Indulgences to build St. Peter’s Basilica.
These phrases were used to describe the ideas of the Reformation. They developed over time and do intersect and overlap one another. This article was difficult to write because I could write an entire article for every one of the Solas. To summarize, the very point of the Protestant Reformation is that we are Made right in God’s sight by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, apart from Works, on the account of Christ Alone; according to the Holy Scriptures alone, All to the Glory and the Honor of God Alone!
Welcome back to Eyes of Reason! This blog has been dormant since 2012, and is now restarted starting today. Many things have happened since 2012, we have Uber, Bitcoin, a new President, intersectionality; but more importantly today, its a new year in my life. I would like to share with you a self-reflection of how I have evolved in my thinking about Christianity in the early 21st century.
The main difference as I think about it is less of an emphasis on esoteric questions and more of an interest in the practical procedure in a person coming to have Faith in Christ. During University, most if not 90% of the people I knew were saved, now, that isn’t so much the case.
It’s easy to travel the world and preach Christ; much harder to live out near home.
A Faith that doesn’t cause your heart to yearn for the lost, isn’t much of a Faith.
Lots of things have changed in the last six years, but one thing has not changed: Christ is still on the throne, doing everything He can to save each of us. It is my prayer that this blog and the writers on it may play a part in helping someone know Jesus for themselves.
We Believe our God is Jesus
We Believe that He is Lord
We Believe that He has saved us from Sin and Death Once and For All
These three lines is the basic narrative of Christianity. It took thousands of years to realize and it takes a lifetime to put into practice. The following is not a detailed explanation of the nature of Jesus Christ…that will come later; this is a simple look into why if you miss the fact that God is Jesus (or a better way to put it, that Jesus is God) then you miss out on why Jesus (and only Jesus) is important.
Jesus, only Jesus
Who has the Name above all names? Who is Holy, King Almighty? Who is the one that Angels all adore? Jesus, Only Jesus. (Philippians 2:8-11, Mark 1:24, Revelation 5:6 Hebrews 1:6)
Who is the one that every human shall acknowledge? Its Jesus. (Philippians 2:8-11)
From the above we can easily see that Jesus is indeed a special person, and He is a unique person.
The main reason Jesus comes into the picture is because He is the only one that can take away sin. The blood of Lambs, goats and doves could not do what Jesus’ sacrifice did. This makes Jesus integrally important because without His blood, sin could never be removed from the one who committed it. This means that without Jesus, and only Jesus we would all be lost. (1 John 3:5, Hebrews 10:4)
The Bible (Which, FYI, you should have access to when you are reading my articles!) describes Him as the Holy Lamb that was killed. Because of that sacrifice He has achieved blessing and honor, glory and power and is described as the only wise king.
There are some people out there that want to claim Jesus but reject what the Bible says about Him.
Worthy is the Lamb
Revelation 5 is perhaps one of the most graphic images the Bible paints about the worth of Christ. The book of Revelation tells us more about Heaven than any other place in Scripture. It describes an immense scene…millions upon millions of galactic beings and every intelligent mammal on Earth are intensely curious about who is able to unlock the book/scroll. The throne is surrounded by a sea of glass, everywhere there is worship, singing and praise. God himself was there sitting on the throne. John saw the throne-room of the most powerful being in the universe. In verse 1 a scroll was in the hand of God. Scrolls were made of papyrus Scrolls could be up to 30ft long. For official documents, wax was dropped along the seams which was the way the paper was sealed and protected. The scene is so intense for the search and it becomes obvious that no one can open it. Whatever is inside of the book is of obvious importance, and the fruitless efforts by the authorities of heaven to look inside of it causes much sadness in heaven, and causes John to cry. Notice that the text doesn’t say that no one was willing, but no one was worthy. The Fact that no one was worthy enough to open the scroll made John cry.
But John is told that everything is going to be alright…there is someone who was found to unlock the book!!! (Revelation 5:5)
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
There is much to take in here. Lets break it down together.
First of all John must have been confused. He is told that the Lion of the tribe of Judah was the one who is able to unlock the seals. But he did not see a roaring lion, or a ferocious beast with claws and teeth. He did not see a lion who would rip the seals with his great claws, but he saw a harmless and innocent lamb. As if that was not shocking enough, the lamb was ALSO WOUNDED. This lamb does what is no one is able to do. The main question here we really need to ask is: “Who is the lion, that is a lamb?”
- John says that the Lamb was standing. It doesn’t take a genius to know that a lamb that has been slaughtered can’t stand. There is only one way a slain lamb can stand…unless he has been raised from the dead. (Jesus was Resurrected and that Jesus has the power to take up His life again)
- The lamb had been slain. How did John know that had been slain if it had been standing? He can only know if his death wounds were still visible. (Jesus has wounds in his hands and feet and side, He had a brand new body but his old wounds were still there)
- John said that he saw the lamb standing in the center of the throne. He did not say that the lamb stood in front of the throne, or next, or behind but in the center. Remember that God the Father is sitting on the throne, the throne is not empty, when the question is asked, “Who is worthy to open the scroll?” No one moves a muscle. But a lamb comes from the same place that God is sitting. They both are on the same throne. What this tells us that the lamb that has been slain is equal to God the father
- John says the Lamb has seven horns and eyes. Combine this from what you know from prophecy. After all, John is writing with prophetic symbols in mind. The horn is a symbol for power (Daniel 8:22) .Seven is God’s perfect number. Thus Seven Horns indicates Perfect Power (or all powerful omnipotence). Likewise, Seven eyes points to perfect Knowledge and Wisdom (or all knowing omniscience), the symbols of God’s presence is His Spirit which means that He is ever-present throughout the earth (omnipresent). These described qualities are none other than the attributes of than God Himself.
Jesus’ Dual Natures
Jesus is very interesting to say the least. Look at this Lion/Lamb combination:
|Belongs in a cage.||Belongs in a petting zoo.|
|Is a great hunter||Is hunted.|
|King of the Universe||Servant of All|
|Mighty, Glorious||Meekest of the Meek, non-pompous|
|Victorious in battle||Sacrifices Himself|
No wonder His praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity (the paradoxes are numerous . Look at the Song they sing about the Lamb.
9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
What is it that makes the lamb so worthy? It is His death and Resurrection that makes him worthy (Revelation 5:8-14) Every creature in heaven worships the Lamb. It is His death (Revelation 5:9) that makes Him worthy. In verse 12 the focus of their worship is on the fact that the lamb was slain. His is worthy due to His victory of the cross. The Cross is at the center of it all in heaven. It is Christ who is able to take the scroll, whom they are shouting about, whom they are singing about, it is him who is worthy.
God’s strength is appears as weakness through the cross. Was there every any greatest display of apparent weakness on God’s part than what the cross looked like? This bloodied, naked, dying being was performing an act that was greater than the creation of the world and ending it. Christ’s redemptive work on the cross was God’s most powerful moment. Notice that is the subject of the Angel’s adoration. Its quite amazing to think that the “mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam” would be the place where the King of Glory would perform such an act. Through that one action the devil was shamed, humans were reconciled. Christ and Him Crucified is the Glory of All of Heaven (Revelation 5:9,10)
“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” – Revelation 5:8
It is not enough to say that Jesus is simply a good person. Or that He was a prophet. it is not even enough to say that Jesus was God’s first work. Revelation 5 alone must motivate you to say “I believe that Jesus is God”. The entire Bible is testifying about Jesus. The Angels and Elders and Living Creatures in Heaven are all talking about Him. He is the center of attention, and what He did at the Cross for sinners is the prime subject.
The song by Chris Tomlin has the line “We Believe our God is Jesus” Which is a great song, but incomplete. God is interconnected with the Father, Spirit and Son: They are One. This article does not touch the trinity, but Revelation 5 has revealed to us one part of that puzzle, that Jesus is God.
What do you think about Jesus Christ in Revelation 5, Is He that Worthy? Comment Below!
Many today ask the question “Are We Alone” and we look toward the sky. Hollywood has even given us some perspective as to what that question would entail if answered in the affirmative. Will the response be more of an “Independence Day” type of situation or a more “Men in Black” reality. Whatever the outcome, whether they be peaceful or not, Christians already have all the answers as to what will happen (or rather, how we’ll respond) when undeniable extraterrestrial contact is made.
The Non-Christian Perspective
Those who believe that humanity appeared on earth without any guidance, point to the immense odds of life developing on earth. Someone had said that a 747 had a better chance of crashing into millions of pieces and rearranging itself back together in midair than the chance of life developing randomly on earth. If we look at the “fine-tuning” argument, which states that our planet is ‘tuned’ in such a way as to promote the development of life, we have to then consider the immense number of stars in existence that fit into this criteria. We can be liberal and take a more generous route and say that life doesn’t have to even be organic. If we then identify a trillion planets that fit into the condition to support any type of life, will that be enough? No. We must then drill down and look at how many of these trillion planets can pull off the miracle of spontaneously generated life. If macroevolution is true and one planet can pull it off, then many parts of Christianity would immediately come into question. However, Christians can easily write this off by explaining that the Bible describes life not for every planet, but for Our planet. There would still be debate as to if humanity evolved from other life forms. If the life was intelligent enough to communicate then it stands to reason that they could not even attest to how they originated.
For independently evolved life to reach the “Independence Day” level stage, many things would have to happen. Besides the above, this life would have to manage to acquire philosophy (which is needed in order to develop mathematics and reasoning to develop technology in the first place), develop technology, and develop the will to pull of long-term space exploration. The will to do this is important for any species willing to travel out of their solar system. Humans still haven’t traveled to another planet, not because of technology or finances, but because of will . (We feel better sending robots to do that kind of thing). Also, this life would have to develop some kind of military. (So we can keep this like “Independence Day”).
The odds of life reaching that stage are as close to zero as you can get. Because evolution hasn’t been demonstrated to occur without some purpose driving it, the odds simply become too great. Combined with the sheer lack of planets that can even support life, and the distances those planets are from one another, the chances of an apoloptyptic type event with an independently evolved intelligent life form are nil.
But what would happen if that life didn’t evolved, but was purposed?
The Christian View
A peculiar problem for Christians
Many of the world’s other religions will adjust easily to a realization of other intelligent civilizations. Islam could teach that other prophets such as Muhammad were sent in a similar fashion to other planets. Hinduism could teach that there are other deities to watch over other civilizations.
But Christianity has a particular problem…
Colossians 1:13-18 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.
God Himself has arrived on earth to save the human race (us). This deliverance will be later shown to be a unique event. This of course assumed that other civilizations are like us….sinners.
Christians are OK with Extraterrestrial Life
Extraterrestrial life isn’t an unknown entity in Christianity. Christians have proclaimed for centuries that this planet have been visited numerously by beings from outer space.
KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
God lives outside of this Earth, as a matter of fact it was created by Him. But this isn’t the only time where the Bible records beings from space visiting Earth.
Genesis 11:5-7 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
The Ancient world was visited by Extraterrestrial creatures, and they have influenced human history. Most of these beings have been messengers from God sent to earth not for destruction, but to transmit information or comfort.
Job 1:6-7 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 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.”
The Bible tells a story of a group of beings stationing themselves in array before Yahweh. Imagine the scene: thousands upon thousands are gathered in a structure for a presentation. The sight might resemble the Parade of Nations from the Olympics. The difference here is that instead of nations presenting themselves before the world, its worlds presenting themselves before the universe. The sight is amazing.
But then something interesting happens. Satan (the accuser) walks down the parade/presentation line. The one who caused war in Heaven is now in the presence of God representing Earth. Notice how the LORD does not challenge the claim of Satan, for the Earth was the authority of Satan. This can be seen from the answer that Satan gives “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” (Verse 7)
Satan clearly thought that the world was his. Even though God owns everything in the universe, He did not contest the fact with Satan.
If we do have a parade of nations, or in this case a parade of worlds situation that does indeed occur, then this would require the existence of other civilizations. These would have to represent unfallen worlds. These worlds could not have been fallen, or in the same situation of sin as Earth is in for a number of reasons:
- Satan doesn’t respond by saying he is from both Earth and Planet X. If the existence of Planet X was true, then it is certain that Satan would have mentioned that planet also.
- Satan doesn’t mention any other planet that he has control over. From Genesis thru Revelation, no other type of civilization is mentioned that Satan also controls.
- If the existence of another fallen world existed, then that would present numerous problems with how salvation is applied to these worlds.
a. Hebrews 9:25-28 25 nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
The writer of Hebrews makes the assertion that Christ is better than the blood of Lambs and Rams in part because unlike them, Christ was only sacrificed once. His blood can be applied often and continuously, unlike the animals.
It also says that once at the consummation of the ages that He gave himself. Hebrews doesn’t hint at any other possible way of paying the penalty for sin except through the single sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
If another fallen world existed, it would be without God’s grace. Would such a world be better off destroyed? If it was not destroyed, and God allowed that world to come into contact with the one humanity is on, then what would that signify?
There would be a couple of lessons learned.
- A prime example of what sin would look like unchecked, without the possibility of redemption. To have a world like that in existence would serve as a warning to those on earth.
- Their contact with us would represent one of two plans:
- They want to destroy God’s people by force.
- They want to transform the earth into a place like theirs, free of the influence of God. This may be the most likely of the two plans.
So, what happens when they arrive?
There are three reactions on this that we can tackle. First, is the view that these space creatures are holy Angels. People who hold this view tend to because they will replace all instances of God in the Scriptures and replace them with these space creatures. They might even go on to worship these creatures. Worship of these beings would be expressly prohibited by Scripture.
Revelation 22:8-9 8 And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God.”
Worship is an action that belongs only to God. It does not belong to anyone else. If these people who worship these aliens interpret these beings to be God, then it raises serious questions as how they relate to these verses.
Demons are simply fallen angels. Many in the Christian community will automatically arrive at this conclusion. Such passages of Scripture as the one below may help them in their cause.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 3 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.
It is entirely possible that Satan will make himself known to the people of earth in public. When this occurs, many will declare him an Alien, others will declare him to be an Angel, and others will say he is some type of messiah. This could happen and the view is supported by the above scripture. It will be an illusion, but it is one that will work on some people.
Neither Angels nor Demons
This would be the most perplexing situation…if it were possible. God’s sovereign rule over the entire universe necessitates knowledge of Him in every civilization. (Philippians 2:10,11) Any other fallen world would therefore be under the control of Satan. Therefore, it is not possible that there could be a “secular” alien civilization.
An “independence day movie style” type event is prohibited by Christianity. It is prohibited because there isn’t a civilization that is “secular” in any sense of the word. The book of Job presents a clear view of not only the existence of other intelligent civilizations, but it shows that they have meetings in which they discuss matters of intergalactic importance. The current evidence reveals that out of these many intelligent civilizations that exist, only ours have pledged allegiance to Satan. The cross was the decisive moment in the battle for the universe in which God did what no other human could have done. It is apparent that these civilizations are barred from direct communication with humanity, so any contact with non-human intelligence would have to be those directly responsible in the process of salvation for humanity. When Satan is permitted by God to show himself to the world, it will most likely not be as the liar he truly is. He will come as an impostor.
Therefore it is important for Christians to realize how important it is to learn about these things. Yes, it may be classified as a theology of the edges…for now. Understanding that alien intelligences aren’t neutral in this battle between good and evil will give Christians the advantage when they arrive.
If a super-intelligent species was discovered, how would you respond? Respond in the comment section below.
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.
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:
- Judgement of other belief systems.
- Followers of other belief systems.
- Other Religions are legitimate.
- Implied Ignorance of Christians towards other belief systems
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.