Monday, 29 December 2014

Can Women Lead the Church?

Christmas this year was rather unusual. Switching back and forth between clinical visits, weddings, studies, and work didn't allow me to focus on the festivities like we usually do.

So I decided to spend my Christmas Eve and the next morning reading. My title of choice: 'The Authentic Jesus' by John Stott. 

The purpose of the book was to respond to the growing liberalism and the deviation from the historic Christian doctrines in the Church of England. 

Anyway, this post is not about issues (the late great John Stott has not left any space for me to comment on them). Rather, this post about the first Lady Bishop in the Church of England.

You can read the story here.

What I understand is that there is a debate on whether women can hold such titles in the Church or not. 

Those against it offer verses from the New Testament that talk about women's submission to man. But perhaps the most crucial text in this regards is as follows:
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Timothy 2)

Those who oppose the literal interpretation argue that these instructions are not general but for specific conditions, since this was St. Paul's personal epistle to Timothy as compared to Romans or Corinthians.

My personal reading of the scripture doesn't warrant the traditional interpretation. The New Testament openly talks about women teaching men (Acts 18:26). Hence, I fully support this move by the Church of England.

What about you?

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Do They Know Its Christmas? Yes they Do!

This is not the first critical article on Bob Geldof's charity single 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', which has been performed once again to raise awareness for the Ebola outbreak in Africa. 

Let me start by saying that I have nothing against celebrity efforts for charity and humanitarian causes.

However, why do they forget that lyrics actually mean something? 

The main premise of the 'Christmas' charity song is that Christmas is supposed to be an event of snow and gifts, and that's it.

It is not about Jesus, his birth, or what he came to do. But if you think about, without Jesus Christ, there is no distinction between Christmas and Saturnalia.

Another point that the lyrics miss is the fact that Christmas is a time of happiness, and not of death, grief, and joy. I agree, but that is to ignore the circumstances in which the first Christmas took place and also how the majority of Christians in the world that do not live in western countries celebrate the event. 

What I am saying is that it is us in the 3rd world that really know that it is Christmas. Bob Geldof and his associates don't, and most of them never will.

The entire emphasis is on physical needs and not on salvation, which is the 'biggest gift they will get this year', or any year for that matter.

On the issue of material needs (namely hunger, for which the original Band Aid was created), Jesus made it clear that 'Man does live by bread alone', that while physical needs cannot be disregarded, they are not enough to give us life in the true sense of the word.

How ironic is that when satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satiate himself, the Lord said that it is God that sustains man, and not just food. But in 'We are the World' (the U.S. version of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?'), Willie Nelson sings:

As God has shown us by turning stone to bread 

Of course, God never did that, so what is the point of singing it?

This is the fundamental problem that I see in the world-view of people who write charity music.

Note: This article reflects my personal opinions. The song in question has been endorsed by Bono of U2, who is a far greater Christian voice than I will ever be.

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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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