Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Parade of Illusions

(Picture) Is this a horse or a mountainside?

"The laws of God are not malicious, they are subtle."
- Albert Einstein

I am wary of any human being who appears to have an answer to every question and my wariness morphs instantly into outright suspicion if this person asserts this seeming omniscience from the pulpit. Imagine it, a man who it appears has a response for every issue – whether philosophical, metaphysical, geological, biological, or archaeological. Imagine it for a moment – one man, answering with emphatic certainty, all the time, an infinite number of questions.

Of course, there is a place for supposition and hypothesis, there is a place for the Pauline expression “I speak as a man” but that is not what I am talking about. The person I refer to here is the one who consistently insists that he is right on every issue and is always quick to weight his utterances with the congregated might of Divine Authority, saying “Thus saith the Lord” or “The Lord told me to . . .”. It is this same man who leans his opinions heavily on his listeners, and with tacit threats of heaven’s displeasure if they as much as think that he is not right or worse still, if they attempt to voice the inconsistencies in the Pastor’s dialectics.

Whether he is a bishop, evangelist, prophet or pastor, I am wary of any man who never says “I don’t know”

I have always wondered why the Church jumps into issues and make proclamations about subjects that they don’t have sufficient information about or that they don’t even have a scriptural reference for. Of course you can voice your opinion but to insists that the proclamation has the certification of Heaven, is a whole different matter altogether. Imagine the embarrassment and the damage done when eventually your “divine proclamation” is proved to be wrong.

When Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a Heliocentric worldview (that the sun is at the center of the solar system) his idea was severely criticized and anyone who espoused them was arrested by the Church, who insisted on a Geocentric model (that the earth is at the center of the solar system).

What is most striking about the Church’s position was that it was not based on a scriptural reference but rather, what they “felt” was correct. According to them, man was the pinnacle of creation, and if man was on earth, then, earth must be at the center. If that was the Church’s “personal” opinion, that is fine, but to go around proclaiming that “God told you so” or that the opinion has a “divine approval” to the point where you persecute those who hold a heliocentric view is reprehensible to say the least.

Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest by the Church because he said that the earth is not stationary but moves. He was branded a heretic because according to the Church “the earth does not move” and this again was not based on any cogent scriptural reference either but they gave the impression that they had God’s signature on it and proceeded to persecute all those who took a contrary view.

I have never understood this “boldness” in some people. In the words of the thief on the cross “Are you not afraid of God?”

Why are people so quick to preface every utterance they make with “The Lord says…” when you know the Lord told you nothing? How can you say "Thus saith the Lord” when in truth you are only voicing your opinion. There are many pastors who will answer for the damage they have done to people’s lives because they used the authority of the pulpit to voice their opinions while appending God’s name to it.

In trying to defend why Christian’s should be rich, I heard a minister say that Christ’s robe was expensive, and that was the reason the soldiers did not want to share it but rather cast lots for it. Where did he get this “revelation” from? We were told expressly that the soldiers cast lots for the garment in fulfilment of prophecy, period.

Someone gave an account of how a minister said Christ must have been rich because he had a treasurer and that he must have invested the gold, frankincense and myrrh he was given as a child.

Where, for goodness sake, is this in scriptures?!

A pastor preaches such distortions in church and the congregation, intoxicated myrmidons of ignorance, jump up and down, giving one another hi-fives and screaming word! word! word! or “ride on pastor” or “preach it” or one of the many catch-phrases or jingles that has become the stock in trade of the modern christian.

God save us all – we have no idea how far from the truth we have strayed.

I am in no way implying that Jesus was poor. I am all for prosperity – I want to be rich too and I want everyone to as well, but must we distort the scriptures to say what it was not intended to say. How is having a treasurer evidence that a man is rich? Every social group or student association has a treasurer – some even have financial secretaries – does that mean that they are Fortune 500 companies?

Some have also preached that if Jesus was poor he would not have had so many followers. How then do you explain the followership of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or Jaycee, of Light Her Lamp blog? Are these three wonderful people millionaires? Is it not the greatness of their personalities and ideas that pulls everyone to them?

Again, I say, I am not implying that Jesus was poor. My point is the tortuous interpretation of scriptures that ministers indulge in to support their claims and all the while attaching God’s Name to it.

Someone please show me (maybe I missed it), where it says in scriptures that Jesus invested the gifts he was given as a child by the Wise Men. A pastor preaches this in church and he goes unchallenged and instead the gullible congregation urges him on?

Again, God save us all, because we have no idea how far from the truth we have strayed.

It is bad enough that the pastor says this at all but what is absolutely baffling is when they say that their utterances are by divine authority and that God told them so. Am I missing something? The word of God is our reference text. You can voice your opinion or hypothesis if you want to; you can say like Paul “Not the Lord, but I, say this”. But, when pastors take the Seal of Heaven and imprints it on their opinions, then the Church in one collective voice must ask a question that echoes the ovation given to Herod:

The voice of a man, or the voice of god?”

But the church is silent – instead we jump around, screaming for more of such “rhema”

But, am I surprised? What is to be expected from Christians that do not study? With full stomachs and empty minds – with cheap tastes and short memories, such Christians venerate their pastors rather than God. A “restlessness” may tug at the hearts of such christians perhaps, – some “instinct” may warn them that these “revelations” do not line up with God’s word but these christians are in a “hurry” to believe the pastor – they forget in their haste that “the best of men at their very best are still men”, - they forget that they are supposed to be Berean christians, - they forget the injunction

“Let God be true and every man a liar”.

They are more interested in being in the pastor’s good graces than to raise an objection or at the very least, study the matter for themselves. They go to church buildings, Sunday after Sunday to partake in a parade of illusions.

Why can’t a pastor say “I don’t have an answer to this question but give me some time to study and pray about it and I will get back to you”?

It is partly because he feels obliged to always have all the answers – his congregation demands it – the congregation has put him in the place of God in their lives and the pastor must “deliver” at every service – he must “perform” for them every Sunday while they applaud him. The pastor must play his part well or else he will lose his members to another pastor three streets away who knows how to “perform”. It is an eager crowd and they must be satisfied even if the pastor has to make stuff up. At the end of the day, you have a pastor who is not true and a congregation that is false – pastor and congregation, both, astonishing the Angels!

The laws of God are not malicious, they are subtle, Albert Einstein once said.

My friend, that subtlety demands that we study God’s word in detail. Yes, we can put forward our opinion on a scriptural issue but let us endeavour to say like Paul said when he did, “I speak as a man”.

Let us not be too quick to ascribe DIVINE AUTHORITY to our own opinions. History has shown that it damages the credibility of the Church in the long run.

Shalom aleichem!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Intellectual Complacency - The Zeitgeist

(Picture) The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Flight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built a “Habitation of Peace”

- Poem by William Blake

Do you know what it is to be a Christian? I do not mean a christian who goes to church at least twice a week – who says “God bless you” at the appropriate points in every conversation and clutches a bible to his chest, his head bowed, as he affects a pious pose for all to see. I do not mean a Christian who reads the bible at least once a day, prays quite often and never misses a church conference.

I am talking of something much more than that – I am talking of a Christian who knows that God created his spirit and, that God also gave him a mind – to think!

I am talking of a christian who knows that the same God who delights in seeing him study His word, does not forbid him from exerting his intellect on the world, and indeed the universe in which he lives. A Christian, who realizes that faith is not necessarily blind and that reasoning and thinking is not “doubt in disguise”

Why have Christians given up the intellectual turf to non-believers? Through the course of the last century, Christians, for some reason, have slackened their grip in all fields of intellectual discourse – the arts, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and apologetics. And no, I am not talking about simply going to a university and earning a degree, I am talking about being a “Thinker”.

In our present age, it is no longer considered “spiritually cool” to be a Thinker. Thinking is now looked upon as a sophisticated form of disbelief and, an appeal to reason is not particularly welcomed. The bride of Christ has abandoned the arena of Cognitive Revery, taking bogus comfort in the false premise that faith in God, as a rule, must not involve the intellect and reason. There was a time in the not too distant past when the greatest thinkers in the land were men of faith –

Leonhard Euler (1707 – 1783): mathematician and physicist who wrote apologetics and argued against atheist in his time.

Bernhard Riemann (1826 – 1866): Mathematician. Described Riemannian geometry, which enabled Einstein’s theory of general relativity. He even tried proving mathematically the correctness of the book of Genesis.

Friedrich Gauss (1777 – 1855): The king of them all. A child prodigy – corrected his father’s arithmetic before the age of three. Made groundbreaking mathematical discoveries while still a teenager. He is perhaps the most brilliant mathematician to walk the earth. He is nicknamed the “Prince of Mathematics” and he believed in an eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God.

Kurt Godel (1906 – 1978): Mathematician, philosopher, and logician. He is the greatest logician that ever lived. His "Incompleteness Theorem" is an extraordinary feat of sublime genius. He once said “I believe in the afterlife independent of theology. The world is rationally constructed, according to which the order of the world reflects the order of the Supreme Mind governing it”

And an atheist talks about logic? Hear the words of the greatest logician to walk the earth.

Time and space would not permit me to mention Gottfried Leibniz, Blaise Pascal, James Clarke Maxwell (I could go on and on)

“Modern Christians” have given up the intellectual space and stage that these men occupied and of course, it would not be empty for long – the void has been filled with other ideas, the most pervasive of which is the constantly growing notion that there is no God.
There are even Christians who automatically equate philosophy with atheism – that is how ignorant some in the church have become.


At least, two-thirds of the New Testament was authored by the greatest Christian philosopher in church history – Paul of Tarsus. Paul debated with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens. What do you think he said to them? He met them on their turf and showed them the flaws in their reasoning.

Paul was a Thinker!

But fast-forward two thousand years later – it is no longer fashionable to think in The Church anymore. It is much easier to “go with the flow” to use a popular church parlance. We might just as well emblazon over the doorway of the modern church:

“Abandon Thought all Ye Who Enter Here!”

This has become the new canticle of the “fast-food-generation” church – this is the Zeitgeist of the modern faith! – It is, the spirit of the age!

You are a christian perhaps – when was the last time you read an intellectually stimulating book on any subject, whether in the Sciences or the Arts? When was the last time you read a book that was not the bible or one churned out every three months by your pastor or one of the numerous "fathers in the Lord” in Christendom.

Mind you, I said "Christendom" and not "Christ's Kingdom". In Christendom, the Christian lives within "a" kingdom while in Christ's Kingdom, it is "the" Kingdom that lives within the Christian. But, I digress. That is another topic for another day.

You can read, I presume; you can write as well, - you are educated, no doubt – you have a university degree – and perhaps even a postgraduate degree as well, but how much philosophy, literature, government, biology, physics, apologetics and logic do you know. Why has the word “philosophy” become a dirty word among Christians?
Whether you like it or not you are being bombarded with philosophy every minute of your waking life. When you watch a movie, listen to a radio programme, read a blogpost, even when you ponder on your own thoughts you are being presented with a philosophy of life and that philosophy of life influences society’s mindset about God.

Do you have any clue about the history of the church? Do you have any idea what the evolution of theological thought has been in the two thousand years of church history? Do you think that knowledge is not important? Do you think it is irrelevant?
Then, tell me, how will you rationally put forward a defense of your faith when you have no clue about the history or the antecedents of that faith? How will you counter the opposition when they confront you with half-truths and complete falsehoods about church history and the christian faith?

I can hear you saying that you will quote the scripture to them.

Will you, then?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe the scriptures and have nothing against quoting them as often as I get the chance, but in your schools, in campuses, libraries, or laboratories, what will you do when the people you meet would not accept as valid the reference text (the bible) from which you quote? They would rather engage you with logic and reason.

Should you walk away from them when they do, just because you can not hold a discussion on their terms? Does that mean all is lost and they are beyond your reach?


A Christian should not cower into a corner when faced with giving a defense of their faith outside of the scriptures! You only do so because you have refused to read, - you have refused to think, - you assume that faith must be blind – and you wrongfully apply the label of “faith” to whatever you have refused to do sufficient research on.

But faith is not blind belief – it is not burying your head in the sand, while half-hoping or half-wishing that by some cryptic mechanism, your ignorance would somehow give birth to the truth.

At present, all over the world, the intellectual discourse is dominated by atheist or their glorified clones – the agnostics.
Children in schools are being fed the notion that there is no God and they take it as truth because it comes from the lips of their respected professors and teachers.

And what is the church’s response?

The church organizes “Easter Retreats” "Spring Retreats" and “Men Conferences” and “Women Conferences”.

When are we going to put together an “Intellectual Conference?”

It is a shame that it has come to this, that a university graduate who calls himself or herself a christian can not take on an atheist and put forward a robust, rational and logical argument (without resorting to scriptures) for the existence of a Supreme Being.

You must read!

You must think!

You must understand the issues of the day!

There is more logic and rationality in “faith” than in the porous conviction of the atheist. The atheist is quick to boast that rationality is his clarion call but if you critically subject his views to reason, the logic (or lack thereof) falls apart. I say again that there is more logic in believing in the existence of God than in the converse.

The only reason why the world at large is listening to the atheist presently is because Christians have left the intellectual arena to them. The atheist dominates the intellectual discourse of the day and unwisely they are left unchallenged.

But who will challenge them when Christians are busy attending “Retreats!” and “Conferences!” and in tacit agreement, conspired to crucify Intellect and Thinking, again and again . . . and again!

Christians everywhere must read! – think! – read! – and think some more!

Christians must not cease from “Mental Flight.”
Flap your intellectual wings, and Heaven would grant it the strength to fly.

Think, and you shall Find!