Saturday, 20 December 2014

Every Year, We Are Moving Closer to the Real Christmas

It's that time of the year again. Glitz, glamour, shopping, sweets, Santa, trees, and family. And in the backdrop of all this we have communion and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another popular Christmas tradition is the re-enactment of the Nativity, something that I have actively engaged in with my friends over the years. 

But now we have the whole 'Keeping Christ in Christmas' movement. The obvious meaning of this slogan is that we should downplay things like the Christmas tree and Santa Claus (due to their non-Biblical and 'pagan' origins).

Also, in a surprising turn of events, some churches in Pakistan have decided not to celebrate Christmas at all, in honour of the children that died in the recent terror attacks, what is now being rightly called the 9/11 of Pakistan.




Both these causes are to be respected. The first one seeks to remove the glamour and commercialism from the event so that we can focus on the essence of Christmas. The second one will prove to be a great at of solidarity and will send strong signals of peace. 

However, what is being missed entirely is how close the events that we face today in Pakistan are to the very first Christmas.

2 years ago, I wrote a blog post on dead children. When we read the New testament, we see innocent children were massacred by a tyrant, and yet during the same time, God revealed himself (according to our faith) in the most complete and thorough manner. The Word became flesh.

That is why I say, that with each passing year, we are moving closer and closer to the real Christmas. 

The real Christmas involves a woman that was scandalized for bearing a child. Women in Pakistan and the world at large continue to face the same scorn even in the 21st century.  

Millions of women today are also giving birth without proper medication, nutrition, and sanitation, the very same conditions in which Christ was born of Mary.

That is why I believe that the Bible is a living text. It speaks to people in their everyday conditions to prove the point that God empathizes with those who suffer.

But more than that, the very fact that whom we call the Saviour of Mankind was born in these circumstances is enough for us to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that God is still actively pursuing His glorious plan for humanity.

As Christians, we don't have to create a false sense of hope as we try to make sense of what is going around us. Thank you Jesus!



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Monday, 3 November 2014

To Drink or Not to Drink: That is the Question

Minority rights in Pakistan are in the news as of late, at least as far as English-language publications are concerned. Today's blog post deals with a couple of news stories on recent attempts to change legislation pertaining to the consumption of alcohol in Pakistan and its legal ramifications. 

(You can find the stories here, here, and here)

The first story talks about a petition filed by the Federal Shariat Court, or simply FSC (the body responsible for ensuring that all legislation done in Pakistan is in compliance with Islamic law), in the Supreme Court to revise the punishment for drinking alcohol. 

The interesting thing to note is that 'Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that there was no absolute prohibition of drinking in the Qur'an as it was only restraint.'  

Such statements have been made previously by religious scholars. Examples include the late Fazlur Rehman Malik, who stated on national TV that 'drinking alcohol was a not a major sin in Islam and that alcoholic beverages with less than 5 per cent alcoholic content should not be considered unlawful'. 

Of course, most Muslims will disagree. However, it is true that there are some verses in the Holy Qur'an which give the notion that drinking alcohol is allowed under specific conditions.

Observe:

'O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter....' Sura 4:43

 They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." 2:219
As you can see, these verse do not forbid the use of alcohol even though the substance itself is criticized. However, Muslims scholars say that these verses were abrogated by 5:90, which reads:
O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, - of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.

The rationale presented here is that the Holy Qur'an increased the force with which alcohol was condemned gradually so that people can naturally give up the habit. Fair enough, but the problem is that the holy book of Islam is not arranged chronologically. So, it needs to be proven beyond the shadow of doubt which chapter was 'revealed' when in order to subscribe to the popular argument of abrogation.

Now let's move on to the other two stories, which are inter-related. Apparently, Christian and Hindu MPAs are trying to pass a bill in the Parliament that bans alcohol for non-Muslims. 

You see, alcohol is banned in Pakistan, but it can be imported and manufactured locally for non-Muslims. 

The politicians pressing for the ban are right in stating that by banning alcohol for Muslims while making it's distribution open for non-Muslims creates a constitutional bias against religious minorities. And more than that, Christians and Hindus are often mocked as drunkards by the majority. 

The bill also says that the ruling on alcohol has often lead to corrupt police officials creating 'fake, false, frivolous cases against minorities'. This is true, however, the bill ignores the fact that whether alcohol is banned or not, minorities will continue to be harassed and persecuted.

But why ban the drink altogether? The Bible- just like the Holy Qur'an and other religious texts-talks about the side-effects of alcohol consumption (which any good doctor can also tell you). However, the Bible also calls gluttony and adultery sins worthy of eternal punishments. But does that does not mean we outlaw food and sex. 

I am not aware of what Hinduism teaches in this respect. I have yet to open the translation of the Bhagvad Gita that I enthusiastically purchased a few months back. 

So in conclusion I would say that not only is there a need for a more open and in-depth discussion of what each religion teaches about alcohol consumption, but any legislation shouldn't ignore the fact that drinking is a social reality. 

What do you think? Please state your religion as well when you comment.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blasphemy: No One is Safe

Some of my recent articles were on the subject of the treatment of discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan. A special focus of those blogs was on the 'Blasphemy' laws in the country's constitution.  

However, let us not forget that this law has not just been used to attack the Shias, Ahmedis, Hindus, and Christians of Pakistan. Not even the Muslims (representing 98% of the population according to varying reports) are immune from being convicted under 295-A,B, and C. No one is safe.

There are some people who argue that the said laws should apply to Muslims only, claiming that you can only blaspheme against a deity or a religious personality/object if you first profess faith in it. But that is an entirely different debate altogether.

Recently, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has levelled the charge of blasphemy against a Pakistan People's Party (PPP)leader. 

The thing to be noted here is that these two parties are supposed to be liberal and progressive in their outlook, not religious like, let's say, the Jamat-e-Islami. Not to mention, both MQM and PPP are the first speak to against acts of religious violence and terrorism in the country.

And the irony is that a PPP leader (Salman Taseer) was gunned down 4 years ago defending Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. And now a member of the same party is at the receiving end of similar charges.

I believe that there is a need for a debate on these issues so that people feel protected by the constitution rather than fearing its misuse. 


Sunday, 19 October 2014

'Blasphemy' Report 2014

2014 didn't bring any good news for the minorities of Pakistan, especially the Christian community.

The much hyped Aasia Bibi Blasphemy trial has been in the news for the last 5 years where a Christian in Punjab was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks against the Prophet of Islam (P.B.U.H). Two days ago, her appeal was dismissed by the Lahore High Court, which means her death sentence is still in effect i.e. of course, if the Supreme Court, or the President himself intervenes.

But it will be miracle if this happens, because the last time the President intervened in the Aasia Bibi case, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard.

Former Governor of Punjab, the late Salman Taseer defending Aasia Bibi

Indeed, Salman Taseer's fate(and also of Shahbaz Bhatti) is common of anyone who speaks of amendments in the Blasphemy Law. These purported amendments seek to improve the quality of evidence needed to convict a person under this legislation.

Consider the fact that the leading political players in Pakistan simply do not talk about the violence that is perpetrated under the guise of this law. Of course, we do have some lone voices.

Political stalwart Javed Hashmi did talk about making positive changes in regards to the misuse of the blasphemy. If one closely analyses his latest speech in the Parliament, you can see that he defends liberal values. He made fun of a religious/political leader of how the latter talks about Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H) coming in his dreams. He then proceeded to defend female participation in political rallies which were being dubbed as 'vulgar' by some mainstream politicians. 

But once again, Javed Hashmi, while still being respected in various political and social circles, no longer enjoys mass popularity. In fact, many people now accuse him of having a tainted character.

Next up we have the Pakistan People's Party(PPP). It's new leader (Bilawal Bhutto Zardari) suggested changing the constitution of Pakistan (drafted by his own grandfather) to allow non-Muslims to run for office. Religious minorities can hold seats in the National and Provincial Assemblies, but they are barred from being the Head of State. 

Bilawal 'Bhutto' Zardaro-Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party

In his latest political address, Bilawal Bhutto recalled the deaths of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer in high esteem. You would again think that these comments offer a ray of hope, but think again.

Owing to the massive rallies and protests being held against the government by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a growing number of people have start to show outright hate for the PPP. Not to mention, Bilawal Bhutto has a clear threat to his life from an extremist Islamic outfit. His mother was also killed in a terrorist attack.

Bottom-line: The constitutional marginalization of religious minorities sadly shows no signs of changing in the near future.

Let us all pray for Aasia Bibi and her family.

Friday, 22 August 2014

10 Reasons to Believe in the Bible

1.  It's the most widely read book in history, and also the first book ever to be printed.

2.  It was written in different languages in different places by multiple authors, yet it has miraculous internal consistency.

3.  Jesus stands behind the authority of the Bible (Matthew 5:17-20).

4.  The biblical authors also made similar claims for each other. For example, the Prophets endorsed the law, and the psalmists extolled its truth, beauty and sweetness (e. g Psalms 19, 119). Above all, the New Testament confirms the Old.

5.  History and archaeology also authenticates the Bible (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls, Tel Dan Stele and hundreds of other inscriptions, tablets, and manuscripts)

6.  It's unique teaching testifies to its exclusiveness. It is relevant for every person in every age Isaiah (40:8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

7.  The Bible is the only book authenticated by other sacred books (i.e. the Holy Qur’an. Sura 3:3, 5:41-47)

8.  It has been translated into all major languages of the world without losing its meaning, eloquence, and the power to transform individuals and nations

9.  It contains fulfilled prophecies page after page. 300 prophecies have been fulfilled in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.

10.         The Bible has been at the forefront of social, political, and scientific progress for the last 2000 years


10 Reasons to Believe in Jesus


1.The Old Testament testifies about Him (Isaiah 9:6, 53, Psalm 22, Deuteronomy 18:18.) There are more than 300 prophecies about the Messiah in the OT.

2.  The Saints testify about him (John  1:32, Matthew 16:16, Luke 1:1-4, Philippians 2:5-11)

3.  There is ample historical evidence  surrounding His life, teachings, death, and Resurrection

4.  He died for the sins of the world (John 3:16)

5.  Apostles died preaching this message. You never die for something that you know is false

6.  Even non-Christian historians of the early Christian era testify about the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth(Josephus and Tacitus record the death of Jesus in their books Antiquities of the Jews and Annals respectively)

7.  He promises heaven to all those that believe in him (John 1:12)

8.  He is the center of history, and has more professing followers than any other person. This includes other religions as well who regard Jesus to be a prophet.

9.  He exemplified virtues of love, peace, and sacrifice that many still try to emulate. No one has influenced the world in the same way as Jesus of Nazareth. 

10 To the uniqueness of his person, there is no equal in the whole world, both past and present.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

KCAM-Taking a Step Further

Ministry at last! 

In my blog posts I have been discussing about the apologetics group that I started with some like-minded friends last year. Last week, we officially inaugurated the group and named it the ‘Karachi Christian Apologetics Ministry’ (KCAM).

I have been named the mentor for leadership & development. 



Karachi, well, because all members live here, and also because we want to start small. Apologetics is not a widely discussed topic in the Church worldwide, let alone in the minority Christian community of Pakistan.

Engaging in matters of faith intellectually is often frowned upon, but by the grace of God we have support of our mentors who have engaged in this ministry for decades (even at the risk of their lives), peers, ministry partners, and students.

We are non-denominational. Our home base is a Catholic household, and we have presence of Baptist and Pentecostal members as well. This is what makes our ministry unique.  Our major offering is a weekly class (interested people can contact me personally at sulemanmichaeljohn@gmail.com for timings and location), but we are venturing into publications, online courses, and audio lectures.

Bi-lingual of course.  

Our Facebook page is our main online hub, but I will also be updating you about the ministry happenings on this blog. In fact, I am creating a separate page for KCAM.

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Friday, 18 April 2014

'I Thirst': Reflections On The Life-Changing Death

22nd April 2011 was sad day in Pakistan as the country the mourned the death of legendary actor and comedian, Moin Akhtar. But I, along with the millions of Christians in Pakistan and billions around the world, were remembering what we consider to be the most significant death in human history. It was Good Friday.     
 As my mentor says, the death of Jesus is unique because it was a natural death. Man was not created to perish, he was created to live. But Jesus said about himself:

Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many…….

Jesus was the only one who came to die! That is why we hold his death in esteem, and observe the day traditionally believed to be the day of the crucifixion. The way of doing this in most congregations is to focus on the “Seven Last Words” of Jesus from 12pm to 3pm in the afternoon.

But I mentioned Good Friday 2011 here specifically because on that day I was invited to speak on the 5th saying: “I am thirsty”.

Here are the notes of what I shared at that small congregation. Hopefully they will give you something to contemplate on today:

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19)
If we look at all the events from the arrest of Jesus all the way up to his crucifixion, one can easily understand that he is declaring an actual, physical thirst here. He was beaten, there was heavy blood loss, and he picked up his own cross for I don’t know how many miles. Thirst, hence, would the least of the weaknesses he would have been feeling at that point.




But a prophecy was also fulfilled (Psalm 22:15, 69:3).
 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;you lay me in the dust of death.
And..

I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.My eyes fail,  looking for my God.
Fulfilled prophecy, as stated before, is one of the defining qualities of the Bible that makes it unique. It is amazing to note how accurately Jesus's suffering's were portrayed in the OT.  He himself  recites this Psalm on the cross (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)

But here is the thought provoking part! We read in Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23 that he refused to consume the wine offered to him by the soldiers. This gives us a clue that when Jesus said “I Thirst”, he implied something deeper.

34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

The wine mixed with gall would have sedated him, thereby lowering his pain. But he didn’t have it.

His thirst was then, firstly, obeying the will of His Father (John 4:33-34). It was obedience to God that led Jesus to go through the excruciating (a word derived from the word “cross”) pain to face perhaps the most brutal death of the time. All for the Glory of God!

He knew that his job on this earth was complete with his suffering and death, so now his thirst was to go back to his original state, the glory he shared with God since eternity.

The same holds true for us believers as well. If we have to share in his glory, we have to share in his sufferings as well:

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1)

 Every believer’s desire is to leave this body of death and join Christ in God’s eternal kingdom….but we have to remain in the body and first have our share of necessary suffering.

This is what makes his death so powerful, because it had a purpose. Do our lives have a purpose?

Wishing you a Holy Good Friday.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Son of God (2014 Movie)

Their Production. His Story


This is a belated review of the 2014 Bible epic “Son of God”. Before moving on, do understand why I am writing my analysis on this movie after a month of its launch:

·         The movie was not released in Pakistani theaters
·         My DVD player isn’t working
·         I was waiting for a pirated link better print

Now that the air is cleared, here are my two cents on the movie.

To start off, I don’t buy the argument that it's useless to make more Jesus movies. The Bible says ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, and this applies to stories more than anything else. Good stories (like Batman) will keep resurging without thwarting off audiences, so why can’t the Gospel story have another shot?

But this is where the Son of God (or most Jesus movies for that matter) fail us. It is the Biblical account of Jesus and his followers that gives all energy to these movies, with the exception of The Passion of Christ (2004) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Beyond the Biblical passages and popular Christmas traditions, there is nothing that merits Son of God as a cinematic experience independent of its religious overtones.

For instance, we are taken from the Garden of Eden to the Cradle in Bethlehem. Fast forward, and Jesus Christ is heralded as the Deliverer of the Jews at Palm Sunday immediately after his baptism. What happens in between? Of course, I don’t expect filmmakers to make up stories of Jesus’ ‘missing years’ before the start of his public ministry, but there were hardly any substantial references to his miracles and teachings in the movie.

And as with other Jesus films, such as the Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Son of God is largely devoid of emotions, and the costumes and makeup make up for most of the acting (see what I did there?).

To me, the strong points of the movie were as follows:

·         Instead of a winged creature entering Mary’s room, the Angel Gabriel actually appears as a man, apparently a Roman. Joseph experiences the same thing in the market place. This was a great interpretation of how supernatural beings may enter time and space. Why they didn’t do the same with the satan character confuses me.

·         The man Gabriel enters Mary’s home as soon as her fiancé is taken away by the Romans. In the next scene she becomes pregnant. I am assuming that this was done deliberately by the writers to make us as judgmental on Mary as Joseph and the rest of her village was.

·         The parallel shots and flashback/forward scenes were brilliant, e.g. Jesus envisaging his brutal death when satan lures him with royal imagery, the crowds who first shouted Hosanna now abuse Jesus, Paul’s attacks on Churches when he opens his eyes in Ananias’ house, and the simultaneous prayers of Jesus, Caiaphas, and Claudia.

·         The honorable burial of Jesus by Nicodemus and Joseph, which in my humble view eliminates all charges of anti-Semitism. Along similar lines, I first thought the movie had racist elements when I saw the satan character, but then the leading Wise Man as well as  the cross-bearing Simeon changed my mind!

I also noticed an emphasis on ‘revolution’. Pilate fears that Jesus will initiate a revolution that will cost him his position as the Prefect. Jesus asks Peter to come with Him and change the world, which Peter repeats at Cornelius’s house. And when the townsmen accuse Mary of adultery, Joseph’s declaration to accept her even with child also sends strong social signals.  The social message is more overt than washing away of sins in this movie, and this might strike a chord with contemporary audiences.

What ultimately differentiates Son of God from its predecessors is its budget, production quality, and the OST by Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer that provides the necessary emotion to this movie. Apart from that, it hardly has any cinematic finesse. Of course, we as Christians will always find depictions of Jesus inspiring, but it is high time we get a Gospel story in a presentation that can be called a film in its true sense. 

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Friday, 14 March 2014

The Doctrine of The Holy Trinity: Presenting Definitions, Answering Objections



"We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substanceThe Athanasian Creed


The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is without a doubt one of the most essential beliefs held by the overwhelming majority of Christians throughout history. 

But at the same time, it has also been a topic of contention, especially in this country. This article seeks to shed some light on these matters, and the material presented here is also based on one of my sessions at our weekly Apologetics Class:

Importance of the Doctrine

The place that the Holy Trinity holds in mainstream Christianity is evident from the following things:

  • It is a part of every baptism
  • It is referred to in prayers and hymns
  • Churches have been named after it 


The Holy Trinity Cathedral Karachi: The church were I was baptised

But even with this significance, there are some problems that need to be put on record.

Addressing Issues

Before moving on, let me first stress on the fact that the definition of the Trinity in the classic Christian creeds (such as the one quoted above) are pretty self-explanatory, i.e. God is one, but this oneness is a unity as compared to singularity

However, there are a few factors that hinder some people's understanding:
  • Words like "persons" are limited in their expression and can give birth to the misconception that we are explaining God in human terms  
  • The usage of the word "God" in the Bible. Consider the difference between John 3:2 and 3:16.


Finally and most importantly, there are no parallels of the Trinity in our anthropic experience, which is why no analogy is deemed adequate to explain the doctrine.

Some Context

In addressing these issues, it is important that we first clarify what is the intention of the skeptic/questioner. 

For instance, is the objection on the ambiguity of the Scriptures regarding what the Church believes about the essence of God? In that case, there is a mountain of evidences that favor the trinitarian belief:

  • The Father as God (John 17:3, Ephesians 1:3)
  • The Son as God (John 1:1, 14, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13) 
  • The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4, 2 Corinthians 3:16
  • The Unity of the Three (Matthew 3:16-17, John 15:26, Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14) 
If we are consistent in our interpretation of the Bible, then these verses give credence to the Trinitarian idea, as compared to any other doctrine presented to explain the concept of God in the Bible. 

But the skeptic still remains unsatisfied. Watch the following clip to see how such conversations usually unfold:




The video portrays perfectly what I am trying to articulate here. The conversations start with statements like "there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus himself says, "I am God" or where he says, "worship me", or "the word 'Trinity' is not found in the Bible". But when verses listed above are presented, the common response is that the Bible is an unreliable document. 


"This is what John wrote. Show us what Jesus said!"

Instead of admitting the fact that there are explicit statements that affirm the deity of Jesus, the questioner ends up changing the topic.
Well, if you knew all along that such verses exist in the Bible, why waste time?

Why not instead start the discussion with veracity of scriptures? 

And here I contend that attacking the integrity of the Bible
 is the greatest argument against the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.



If the Bible is to be doubted on the things it teaches, why appeal to it at all?  

However, exposing the loophole in the critic's methodology doesn't take us away from some serious questions that spring from the pages of the scripture and (apparently) teach something completely different to the deity of Christ.

Problem Passages

"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" Mark 13:32

If 'the substance is not divided', then how come Jesus doesn't know of that day?  This is a legitimate question. So, is the doctrine of Trinity refuted by this verse? 

If you look at this verse carefully, you will notice Jesus is actually is creating a hierarchy:

Father knows
                       Son doesn't know
                                                     Angels don't know
                                                                                    No man knows
  

Even in his 'denial', Jesus takes a position above human beings and angels. So even if we reject the doctrine of the Trinity on the basis of this verse, we at least have to believe that according to Jesus's own words, he stands on a higher pedestal as compared angels and men in relationship to God. He is second only to the Father in the universal hierarchy.

It seems that those who use his verse as an anti-Trinitarian proof-text have not considered its implications. 

Have I pulled a fast one on you, drawing interpretations from the verse which didn't exist?

...Not at all! 


Uniqueness of Jesus: In His Own Words
 
Consider the following passages, and try to observe what Jesus was trying to say to His contemporaries:

"“A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:“‘The stone the builders rejected    has become the cornerstone;the Lord has done this,    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them" (Mark 12)


The Jews understood that Jesus had made them the villains (the tenants) in the story. The man who planted of the vineyard is obviously God. The servants are the prophets, and then there is the son, i.e. Jesus. 

He is not your average Jew, nor you average prophet. And he is not God. Once again, he kept himself superior to all creations and second only to God. 

And then we have this verse:

 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11)

Once again, He is on a higher pedestal with God in comparison to the rest of creation.  

So let’s assume for the sake of argument that there are no explicit references to the deity of Christ and the Trinity. But then we have to accept that he is second only to God, and therefore, above the rest of the people, prophets, and even the angels of heaven.


You can’t read the New Testament and walk away with the conclusion that Jesus is only a man, prophet, or angel. He hasn't left that option open for us.

Preserving Monotheism

Finally, it should be noted that the writers of the New Testament were Jews, and hence they had the most rigid monotheistic faith. For them to say things like ‘we saw His glory, the glory of the One and Only…’ and ‘My Lord and my God’ doesn’t make any sense, unless the person they called Master was really divine.

The Jews first beheld God’s glory on Mount Sinai. Then at Solomon’s Temple. And now someone stood in their midst who reminded them  of the same glory. 

And when he left the earth, something possessed them (and the Church at large), that made them aware of Jesus’ presence, even when he had physically departed.

How do you explain this experience and still preserve that monotheistic faith? The answer is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as defined by the classic creeds of the Church.

All other explanations simply don’t add up.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Of Rumors and Apologetics

Apart from running a worldwide religious organization, the Pope is responsible for doing some of most notable things in history, such as: 
But today, I found out something about the Pope that puts all previous records to shame. The Pope has hired notable author J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame to rewrite the Bible!

Note: From here on, this article becomes a little serious...

The origin of this rumor is the satire website WaterFordWhisperNews. How did I find this out? Simple. I went to Google.com, clicked on 'images', dragged the image from the linked Facebook page, and dropped it.

But just to make sure that the admin of the page didn't get the joke, here is a screenshot of the comments along the image:

Click to enlarge


This only goes to show that the more and more people simply cant comprehend humor. Reminds me of a blog on a local news site, where they had to put up a disclaimer specifying that the article (with outlandish and made-up material) was a work of satire!

In a previous post, I have outlined that this is the kind of apologetic that goes around on the internet. The sad thing is that there is a large audience to consume this kind of rumor and outright deceptive propagation, and they are willing to 'share' it. 

At least on my blog, I aim for accuracy while conveying religious information...