Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Is money spiritually vile? A response to Kerubbar Sekho

There are some unusual beliefs that I have come across in the past or even some downright horrific beliefs. I have recently come across rank exegesis of scripture pertaining to money. The individual in question had claimed in the post that money is spiritually vile.

""MONEY" FROM ALL CURRENCIES IS SPIRITUALLY VILE BEFORE GOD

GOING TO WORSHIP YOUR GOD with some money in your pockets or hands as tithe does not show respect to God the creator of the universe. Tithe was equivalent to the tax paid to governments. Tax is given to a ruler or government as a way to recognize the supremacy of that ruler or government. The ruler or the government of the land receive taxes from the subjects who are submissive and obedient in that government's own currency. God used to receive the tithe or the tenth of all that a submissive worshiper possessed such as crops, seeds, fruits, trees, birds and animals because they were all his money or wealth-Leviticus 27:30-32.
God did not command the Israelites to convert their wealth into money so that they would bring coins and bank notes as his tithe. This mistake was introduced by HYPOCRITES.

Matthew 22:15-21,
"...Whose image and inscription is this?...Render therefore to Caesar things which are Caesar's, and to God things which are God's..."

When people today carry their national coins and bank notes to church for tithe they are indeed confirming the supremacy of their governments over their churches rather than God. In other ways, such churches worship their governments rather than God. It's ridiculous to believe that you worship God when in your temple's storeroom there are stocks of government money. It was not so in Israel. The storeroom inside the temple were filled up with seeds, fruits and foods which people brought in as tithe- Nehemiah 10:38.

Jesus drove out those who were selling and buying things in the temple of God and turned over the tables on which money was exchanged and whipped the sellers- Matthew 21:12, a clear indication of how vile money is in God's sight. This was the only incident that Jesus had to beat some people.

The love of money is the ROOT OF ALL KINDS OF EVIL- 1 Timothy 6:10.

The best tithe that you should give God now is your body- Romans 12:1, not your money."

Let's examine these points.

First, money existed long before Israel had come into existence, it was used and still is used to give to others in exchange for goods or service. Was there tax? Yes of course.

Now of course tithing itself was a tax that did involve more than just money but regardless, while I don't believe in tithing but actually believe in giving which I have written on in another article:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/are-christians-required-to-tithe.html

But putting that aside, Where in the scripture is it forbidden to give government currency to God? Where is God offended if you give him money that has let's say because of my country, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill on it? It would never cross anyone's mind that using a coin or bank note with a leader's head on it is worshiping the leaders or pledging allegiance of the church to the state and offending God by it. Where is this evidence?

Jesus threw out the money changers because they were profiteering in the temple which was inappropriate to do. It had nothing to do with usage of government currency in and of itself.

As for Jesus demanding to see the denarius, he did that to answer a question from individuals that tried to catch him out and trip him up. To which Jesus responded, give to Caesar what is Caesars and give to God what is God's.

"Matthew 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away."
God is not offended by someone using currency of a given country as a gift to him, it wasn't something introduced by hypocrites.

Furthermore, the passage in the Bible that addresses the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Judging by the individuals usage, he misunderstands the passage, which is not saying money itself is the root of all evil, it's the love of money, not money in and of itself.

Let's go to 1 Timothy 6:3-10

"3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Money when used incorrectly (which is very easy to do), can be destructive if covetousness overtakes us and we are not content with what we have? It's ingratitude and greed that covetousness cultivates within us. Money when used correctly and given correctly can be an incredible asset to the cause of Christ. It's the LOVE of money again, that is the root of all evil, not money in and of itself.

As for Romans 12:1, it doesn't say your body is a tithe:
"12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

There is no denying that our body is a living sacrifice to God, but it's never called a tithe in anyway, so to say that your body is your tithe is completely erroneous.

To go further into the passage.

"3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

Giving is to be done generously, if you are lead to give, which should be out of gratitude. Whether you hand your crops and yes even bank notes, God is pleased but only if you are living right with him.

Give your cash to him if he so leads you, not in terms of tithing, but in terms of giving to him generously.

Answering Judaism.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Does the Bible condone homosexuality? A response to Dr Mona West

On the 1st of July 2017, I was in Bournemouth with a couple of friends and noticed in the day that there were individuals in LGBT capes and other clothing, admitted I didn't know that there was a festival called Bourne Free being held until I looked it up.

During a round of mini golf, I caught sight of the MCC or the Metropolitan Community Church who had their stand present in the festival. After me and my friends finished the round of mini golf, I went to speak to two of the individuals at the stand, one of whom was Reverend himself spoke to me as well. The conversation did not end or begin in hostility and admittedly I could have articulated what I was saying better (I prefer writing my points down). They gave me two leaflets, one of which was a leaflet containing an article by Dr Mona West. 

Let's take a look at the points.

"Lesbians and gay men face discrimination because of societal attitudes. Unfortunately, these
attitudes are often taught by churches and, sadly, the Bible is frequently used as a weapon to
“bash” lesbians and gays. It is important to remember that such hurtful things are not a reflection of Christ, or the way God wants the church to be, or even what the Bible really says."

I will not deny that there has been genuine hatred towards the homosexual community and there is a way to disagree or address a point without being spiteful. That being said, does the Bible really condone homosexual practice even if in the context of the two people loving each other? But what is persecution? what is hate? what is unnecessarily offensive and not biblically offensive? Is it hate, persecution and being unnecessarily offensive to speak biblical truth in love? It is important to realize that to speak the truth doesn't involve attacking homosexuals or any other sinner on a personal level, such as ad homenim attacks, but what it does mean is that you speak out against an evil practice, no compromise and while the person may hate you or mock you for the truth, it's better to give the truth biblically rather than hide it.

"Only a small number of passages in the entire Bible reference same-sex sexual activity (six out of
sixty-six books of the entire Bible). Obviously this topic was not of great concern to the biblical
writers. Yet these verses have been used to justify hatred, condemnation and exclusion of God’s
lesbian and gay children."

Again, I agree that there is hatred towards the homosexuals that is unnecessary. However, the argument that the topic was not of great concern because of the few references to said topic isn't a strong against contesting whether homosexuality or any other practice is condoned or allowed. Even if there were only six, marriage is highlighted to be between a man and a woman. Considering the fact that many marriages in Israel (and putting aside problems with polygamy which are another topic) the marriages that are praised or engaged in are often if not always heterosexual marriage. Deviations in their sexual relationship was a result of rebellion against God, including having sex with Gentiles, forbidden among Jews (The Christian equivalent today and in Paul's day, Christians are forbidden to marry unbelievers).

James White has an interesting comment on the list of 6 verses in a talk that he did. After giving the list he proceeds to say the following:
"So there's your six and you can see when people say "so what does it matter" but hopefully what you're hearing me say this evening is they're there because of the massive positive teaching of scripture as to God's creative purpose and the positive teaching that Jesus gave regarding the nature of the created order itself and that will be very important when we look at all the revisionist stories, all the revisionist ways around dealing with this."

I recommend taking a look at White's talk, it's a too parter but is enlightning and certainly has been very helpful:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCCArXCfNDU&t=3390s
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wi4-QX5KZc

"The word ‘homosexuality’ is a modern term and did not exist during biblical times. Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today. Therefore, passages that reference same-sex sexual activity should not been seen as comprehensive statements concerning homosexuality, but instead should be viewed in the context of what the ancient world that produced the Bible understood about sexual activity."

Homosexuality as a term may have only existed for at least the past 100 years, but the usage or creation of a word describing a practice doesn't nullify the usage of said word. Also, to understand what marriage is, we need to back to the earliest period of human history, namely the Garden of Eden. What did God set up as the rule for marriage? We read the following in Genesis 2:23-25:

"23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

This was the marriage that God created and blessed from the beginning and is carried over throughout the scripture. Here's what we have:

1. Man and Woman are united
2. The union is permanent

The passage is later quoted by Jesus with respect to divorce and remarriage and while homosexuality isn't brought up in the context of the passage, you still get a clear idea of how Jesus viewed marriage and there are other passages in the article to get to later to address.

"Biblical scholars have employed the social sciences to study the relational and gender patterns of the ancient Mediterranean world—the world that produced the Bible. Professor Mary Tolbert summarizes that research with the following words:

The single most important concept that defines sexuality in the ancient Mediterranean
world, whether we are talking about the kingdoms of Egypt or of Assyria or whether we are
talking about the later kingdoms of Greece and Rome, is that approved sexual acts never
occurred between social equals. Sexuality, by definition, in ancient Mediterranean
societies required the combination of dominance and submission. This crucial social and
political root metaphor of dominance and submission as the definition of sexuality rested
upon a physical basis that assumed every sex act required a penetrator and someone who
was penetrated. Needless to say, this definition of sexuality was entirely male—not
surprising in the heavily patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean.

In these societies sexual acts between men did happen, but they happened in order to show
dominance of one group of men or a man over another, especially during times of war. It was not uncommon for men who had conquered a foreign army to rape them in order to show they were dominant and of a higher status."

This I would need to comment on this in another article Lord Willing but a sexual practice to assert dominance over a foreign army or individual is not to be commended biblically speaking.

"The Story of Sodom in Genesis 19

This understanding is helpful when we read the story of the city of Sodom, Lot, and the visitors (or angels). The men of Sodom want to ‘know’ (yadah - a Hebrew word that can mean sexual
intercourse) the foreigners who have come to Lot’s house. In essence they want to rape them in
order to show their social and cultural dominance over them.

This story is not a condemnation of homosexuality, but is a story about rape and inhospitality. In other biblical texts (Ezekiel 16:49, Luke 17:28-29) Sodom’s ‘sin’ is not identified as homosexuality, rather, their sins were pride, failure to help the poor, and lack of hospitality to foreigners."

There is no denying the people who attacked Lot that there was inhospitality or lack helping the poor but this doesn't deal with the contention of what marriage is to be. I also on the subject of the word know direct you to the following article: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=614

Yadah can be used of to know someone, to choose, to have sex with or to know what someone has done and said. In Genesis 19, it is the sexual kind of yadah but it is not just a condemnation of rape.

"4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door."

It is interesting that when despite Lot trying to hand his daughters over to the men, rather than going for Lot's daughters and thus avoiding having the men sleep with the angels, the men respond in anger and try to break into the house.

Regarding what the men from Sodom and Gomorrah would have done, would they do it to the women to assert their dominance? Possible, but how does the asserting of one's dominance a refutation of the opposition of homosexuality present in Sodom and Gomorrah?

I am not saying all homosexuals act this way, but if it was just inhospitality and rape alone, why would Lot place an emphasis on his daughters and tell the men with respect to the angels not to act wickedly? It is reprehensible yes what Lot tried to do with his daughters but why wouldn't the men respond to his comment except be outraged by him telling them not to do evil to the angels? 

"Leviticus
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (18:22)
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they
shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (20:13)

These verses are part of the Holiness Code in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (chapters 17-
26) that attempted to spell out ways the people of Israel would act differently than their
Mediterranean neighbors. In light of the previously mentioned sexual practices of Israel’s
neighbors, it becomes clear that this prohibition in Leviticus was an attempt to preserve the internal harmony of Jewish male society by not allowing them to participate in anal intercourse as a form of expressing or gaining social and political dominance. These verses in no way prohibit, nor do they even speak, to loving, caring sexual relationships between people of the same gender."

Using Genesis 2 as the starting point, Leviticus doesn't just prohibit anal intercourse as a form of expressing or gaining social and political dominance, it also doesn't recognize a loving caring sexual relationship between people the people of the same gender. 

It's an argument from silence to suggest that God would allow a same sex relationship where the two love each other because it is impossible. The people of the same gender whether it be two men or two women cannot unite each other biblically and to quote the words of James White "You don't fall in love with a mirror image". You cannot put 2 positives and 2 negatives of either a battery to each other because no electricity can be transferred and in the case of a magnet, the two same sides will repel each other, not bind together. There is no fulfillment of uniting each other in marriage in a homosexual relationship.

The Holiness Code doesn't just prohibit that, it does prohibit other sins, especially when it comes to sexual practice.

"The Writings of the Apostle Paul
“So do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived!
Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards,
revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

“The law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers,
fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound
teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

There are two major issues to consider when one approaches these passages: translation and
sexual practices of Greek culture. A comparison of these verses in several translations of the Bible indicates that there is some confusion about how to translate two Greek words in these lists of vices Paul has enumerated. The two words are arsenokoitai which is rendered in various
translations as “homosexuals,” “sodomites,” “child molesters,” or “perverts” and malakoi which is rendered in various translations as “catamites,” “the effeminate,” or “boy prostitutes.”
These Greek words are difficult to translate in the context of these passages. Malakoi is a
common term and means “soft.” It can refer to clothing (Matthew 11:8) or moral matters, meaning “undisciplined.” Arsenokoitai is a rare word and is made up of arseno meaning “man,” and koitai meaning “bed, lying, or having sex with.” When put together the word may mean “male prostitutes.” "

malakoi refers to one who is soft or effeminate which is correct. In the context of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, a reference to one who takes the passive role whereas arsenokoitai is the one who is taking the active role. The text does refer to two men who are engaging in same sex acts but it is not talking about a man and a boy engaging in homosexual author.

The subject of arsenokoitai is addressed by Dr Johnathan Safarti. Not only does he mention what it means but all addresses where Paul got the term from.

"In 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul actually used a most unusual word, ἀρσενοκοίτης arsenokoitēs, meaning ‘male who has coitus with a male’ (Greekἄρσην arsēn = male). This was not the normal term from the Greek culture. But the Levitical law explains where Paul obtained his binding New Testament prohibition. In English, Leviticus 18:22 reads:
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
In the Greek Septuagint from which Paul often quoted, it reads:
καὶ μετὰ ἄρσενος οὐ κοιμηθήσῃ κοίτην γυναικός βδέλυγμα γάρ ἐστιν (kai meta arsenos ou koimēthēsē koitēn gunaikos bdelugma gar estin)" Dr Johnathan Safarti: http://creation.com/response-to-gay-marriage-article-objections-cmi-shows-questioner-that-christian-faith-is-logical

As Safarti noted, the word arsenokoites means "male having sex with men". Paul coined the term from Leviticus 18:22:

"18 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

6 “‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.

7 “‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

9 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

10 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.

11 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

12 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

13 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

14 “‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

15 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.

17 “‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

18 “‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’”"

Within the confines of the chapter, verse 22 means that you cannot engage in homosexual activity nor a relationship of that kind. Yes we are not under the Law of Moses but are under the Law of Christ and I have already made the point on Genesis 2 earlier so I needn't repeat it too much.

The issue of sexuality isn't like whether Christians can eat pork or shellfish, mixed material and shaving of the beard which were meant to distinguish Israel from the other nations, this is referring to proper moral conduct and code and it lists other sins too.

I have written other papers on which laws apply to Christians and which do not so feel free to check some of those out:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/observance-of-torah-demanded-of-gentiles.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/observance-of-torah-demanded-of.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/observance-of-torah-demanded-of_7.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/what-does-acts-15-teach-does-it-teach.html

"When these words are placed in the context of Greek culture in which Paul was writing, the
passages have very specific meanings. As we have seen earlier, the Mediterranean world had a
definition of sexuality that was based on dominance/submission and unequal status. Greek culture fine tuned that definition with regard to status. Proper sexual relations occurred between people whose status was unequal. In addition there was a practice in ancient Greek culture known as pederasty in which younger men were socialized and educated through a close relationship with an older man. These older men were the boys’ (age 12 or 13) patrons and, often, their lovers. 

These relationships were seen as the key to raising up the next generation of city leaders and there were strict rules about how long the relationship should last and the roles of families within these relationships. Evidently there was some abuse happening in these relationships and young boys were being exploited and kept by the patron well after the boy had grown into adulthood (which would have made him an equal, hence violating the code of sex only among unequals). These abusive relationships are what the apostle Paul is referencing, not mutually loving and caring relationships between people of the same sex."

Mutually loving and caring relationships between people of the same sex is not an excuse to violate what God had established back in the Garden of Eden. Pederasty, even when done in Greek society is without any biblical foundation, again going back to Genesis 2.

The argument of loving and caring relationships can be used to justify what the scripture calls evil. If homosexuals can have loving and caring relationships, why can't (according to this point) pedophiles have a relationship children if it is loving and not abusive? Or zoophiles with their animals? Or what about incestuous relationships if it is mutually loving? Do you not see the problems? This is a slippery slope as well as inconsistent argumentation and inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument.

Using the argument of culture is something to be very careful with. In terms of neutral things not discussed in scripture such as media can be disputed among Christians and whether or not women had to wear the veil depends on the culture. Women had to find the principle that Paul was applying, especially if they are unable to grow long hair.

That being said, culture shouldn't be used to address biblical morality, it must be the other way round. The subject of women wearing trousers I don't think is a problem so long they acknowledge outwardly and inwardly that they are women and don't dress in a way that confuses their gender. See the article on roles on women and scroll down to the section "Submission to the Husbands and Loving of the Wives" and read the quotation from Paul Washer (In fact I'd encourage reading that entire article of his) specifically pertaining to hairstyles and cultural connotations that hair may have: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/roles-of-women-in-church-what-can-they.html

See also the article on women wearing trousers as also: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/deuteronomy-225-comments.html

Men should not be engaging in a relationship with boys or girls in that kind of intimacy to put it politely and Women are also prohibited from such relationships as those with boys and girls. Abusive or not, you cannot justify relationships of a sexual kind between the same sex.

Jesus doesn't leave open the possibility even culturally of a homosexual love (or any illicit relationship that is against God), even if it is done under the banner of love.

"Romans 1:26‐27
“For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural
intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with
women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men
and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

By now it should be clear that these verses must be read in the cultural context of the
Mediterranean world that understood socially acceptable sexual behavior to happen only one way: among unequals with the dominant partner always an adult male.
It is also important to read these verses in Romans within their larger context. At the beginning of his letter to the church in Rome (where he had not yet visited) Paul was attempting to lay out for the Roman church his theology of grace (all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; but are justified by the gift of grace in Christ Jesus, 3:23). He is writing to a Jewish and Gentile audience. In chapter one he tries to demonstrate the Gentiles’ need for God by pointing out behaviors that keep them alienated from God. In chapter two he does the same thing for his Jewish audience.

Paul’s reference to natural and unnatural sexual acts must be taken in light of Mediterranean
sexuality. He is not attempting to give an ethical teaching concerning homosexuality. He is trying to meet his Gentile audience on their own terms; using the example of some people who are not upholding the dominant/submissive model as an opportunity to talk about all persons’ need for the saving grace of Jesus Christ."

What? Are we reading the same scripture? Let's look at Romans 1:
"18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Human beings know in their heart of hearts that God exists, he has written his existence into their conscience and they know that he is there, but refuse to acknowledge it. As a result of their unwillingness to turn from their iniquity and this ties in with the Old Testament with how God treated the Israelites when they rebelled against him in the Prophets, He handed them over to their sinful desires because of their stubborn refusal to repent and of course, he will treat unrepentant Christians in exactly the same manner. Anyone who refuses to bow to God will invariably worship something else, an idol, whether it be a false god or a neutral item (A neutral thing isn't bad but if you serve that as a God or spend all your energy on it, then that can become an idol. But whether or not Christians can have hobbies or whatever is another subject). It is a present reality, all men who rebel are trying to suppress the the truth in unrighteousness.

Furthermore, Some specific sins are listed, including "men committing indecent acts with other men and women with women" which is not simply talking sexual acts connected with idols but it lists homosexuality and other sins as well. But notice what is said in Romans 1:24-27:
"24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

There is no positive affirmation of homosexual practice here, even in the context of "love". It's simply not there.

Sins are referred to as degrading passions, which is not a positive thing to say regarding sin at all. Can someone explain where there is a healthy, committed same sex relationship that exists biblically and can it be justified and be fulfilling? Sexually transmitted diseases are rife especially in a relationship between two men in the same sex marriage. Paul isn't even talking about older men sleeping with boys, he is talking about the relationships between two men.

"Issues of Biblical Authority
When dealing with matters of biblical interpretation one always needs to keep in mind the role of the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice. While the Bible is an important witness to the relationship between God and humanity, it is not the ultimate revelation of God—Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is. We must guard against what some scholars have called bibliolatry— making an idol out of scripture.

One way to guard against bibliolatry is to realize that while the Bible may be at the center of
matters of faith, it must also be in ‘conversation’ with tradition, experience and reason. These four sources of faith have become known as the Wesleyan quadrilateral, so named after their originator John Wesley, founder of the Methodist heritage.

We must read and interpret scripture with the aid of the history and tradition of the Christian
church. We must also bring reason—philosophical and rational thought--to bear on applications of scripture to real life situations. And last and most importantly, scripture must be weighed alongside human experience—especially the experience of God’s grace.
It is time we stopped making an idol out of the Bible. It is time we bring philosophical and rational thought—especially what the sciences have told us about sexual orientation and identity development—into conversation with the Bible. It is time we listen to the experiences of God’s gay and lesbian children who know with all their hearts that God has created them just as they are."

Sola Scriptura doesn't allow for bibliolatry. It makes the scripture the sole infallible rule of faith for the church and does allow for other authorities to be used, but those authorities have to be tested against the word. The biggest question is, did God create man, yes. Did he create sexual orientations that do not involve what is found in Genesis 2? no. In one sense God did create the homosexual as a human being but he did NOT create the homosexuality itself.

Do the homosexual's feelings exist and can they be real, yes, but that doesn't excuse those desires in any way.

Our personal experience, if that is what is being referred to in the article is not a measure of truth, the scriptures are that and if we let our feelings dictate and be the deciding factor, we will not end up submitting to the word that the Holy Trinity revealed.

Homosexuality itself robs a person of many wonderful things. They cannot embrace the joy of having children, they cannot have a person in that relationship say "This is the baby I have birthed" and rejoice in that. Oh sure a homosexual couple might adopt children, but they haven't produced that child have they? Furthermore, the twisting of God's created order that a homosexual (and others in sexual sin) impact the child in a negative manner. I don't say this to be spiteful or hurtful but this is the fact of the matter, there is no room for any illicit relationship in the Bible.

If the Lord Wills I may add more to this article but I suggest looking at the James White lecture I posted earlier and I also recommend Michael L Brown's book "A Queer Thing Happened to America" which is the most gracious book that speaks on the subject of homosexuality.

Answering Judaism.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Unequal Yokes and Bidding Godspeed

In light of the recent condemnation of the dialogue between James White and Yasir Qahdi, it will be pertinent to take this opportunity to talk about certain biblical texts that are used not only regarding this whole issue and what they mean. The issue of White and Qahdi's dialogue will not be addressed in this paper however but maybe addressed if the Lord Wills.

Don't be unequally yoked
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 explains the following:
"14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”[c]

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”[d]

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
"

The common understanding and it is the main one, is condemning the idea of Christians marrying unbelievers and there are copius number of times in the Old Testament demonstrating the consequences of the Israelites marrying pagan women, be it Solomon's Wives (1 Kings 11:1-8), Ahab's marriage to Jezebel and his listening to her (1 Kings 21). There was even mass divorce in Israel in the days of Ezra because of the Israelite men taking many pagan women to be theirs (Ezra chapters 10) even though that was one of the sins that brought disaster upon them to begin with and of course Malachi also mentions how the Israelites offerings were detestable because of marrying foreigners:

"Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant[e] of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?[f] And what was the one God[g] seeking?[h] Godly offspring. So guard yourselves[i] in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,[j] says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers[k] his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
".

The offering is not just rejected, but God even threatens an Israelite with death if he presents an offering while he has knowingly married a pagan.

To be very clear on a certain point, Paul is not talking about an unbeliever you married before your conversion (When both spouses were pagans), Paul does have regulations laid out for Christians who are married to someone who hasn't been converted, again both married before one of the spouses comes to Christ, See 1 Corinthians 7:12-16:

"12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
"

While remaining married to the unbeliever after conversion can make you a godly influence on their life, sometimes, there may not be a change of heart from the believer and it may be best to let them quietly leave. What Paul is however against is a Christian marrying an unbeliever and commiting themselves to that unbeliever, which is not on even in the New Testament.

Others have applied 2 Corinthians 6:14 to businesses, namely workplaces, but does it apply to those situations, yes and no.

Let's begin with no first and foremost, Because believe it or not, your co workers are going to be unbelievers who do not share your convictions. You are in the world, but not of the world. When you purchase a book, or movie or video game, you are purchasing from an unbeliever and more often than not if you sell these things, you are selling to unbelievers.

You are to be a witness to those people. If they don't convert, don't worry, just carry on working alongside them in the workplace, provided the task in question is morally right in God's sight and is within the confines of the law of the land (Which we'll get to soon).

Work in such a way that they see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven, but even if they do not give him such glory, they may see you as a valuable asset to the team. You cannot escape from unbelievers, if you cannot work alongside one in the workplace, you are going to have a difficult time earning some money or living at peace with unbelievers, not in the sense of Christian fellowship, but in the sense of treating people with the respect they deserve, perhaps even being a friend to them.

Now having said this, we get to the yes application.

As said before, the work you engage in is to be moral (doing right in God's sight) and legal (doing right in the sight of the government), Sex trades, Drug trades, prostitution, sales of paganism and witchcraft and other practices of the like are out of the question. The entertainment industry is at a grey area but caution should be excercised, especially with the glorification of wickedness being celebrated.

A business deal sometimes if you run a business deal may not be the best course of action especially if said business deal goes against your conscience or the scriptures, but a business deal that is good and right can be considered.

With work and business, it depends what the goal is and whether the goal is just, not to mention it is impossible to remove yourself from the presence of unbelievers completely. As for marriage to an unbeliever, this is out of the question if you were not married when you came to Christ.

It depends on context. One the one hand you have the alliance of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah, but on the other hand you have Solomon asking the King of Tyre, Hiram, a Phoenecian, for cedar and trading no less. Why was God condemning Jehoshaphat, yet had no problem with Solomon getting cedars from Lebanon? Context is key. Solomon wasn't alling himself with Hiram in terms of kinship yet this is what Jehoshaphat did and he lost the trade boats because of it. Hiram was a pagan but Ahaziah was an Israelite, so the principle regarding false teachers could be retroactively applied to in the case of Ahaziah.*

In fairness however, Hiram's history with Ancient Israel goes back to when David reigned, namely the building of his palace (See 2 Samuel 5:11).

Let's take a look at two passages:
"2 Chronicles 20:35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. 36 He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish."

"1 Kings 22:47 There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber. 49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing. 50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place."

Jehoshaphat paid dearly for his alliance with Ahaziah, which resulted in the destruction of his ships and he refrained from teaming up with the king of Israel again. Of course this wasn't his first alliance, as he and Ahab worked together in the past, See 1 Kings 22: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+22&version=ESV

As for Solomon, see 1 Kings 5: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Kings+5

Bidding God Speed
This is a text which was abused and mishandled not only in the recent James White Hunt but has been used in the past, namely, bidding God Speed to an individual. Let us look at 2 John:

"7 I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we[a] have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work."

The context is not referring to unbelievers. It doesn't make that much sense to say it is. It's an obvious given unbelievers deny Jesus, so why would John need to make an emphasis as to who such a person is. Easy, he is referring to false teachers who claim the name of Christ, but their theology is not in line with the teaching of Christ or his apostles. Unbelievers do not run ahead and do not continue in the teaching of Jesus, because they don't believe in Jesus to begin with, whereas someone who claims the name of Christ go further than they should and fall into damnable error. Inviting an unbeliever around your house or being invited to his house is one thing, actually inviting a heretic to your house is another.

One interesting explaination comes from that of John Brown of Haddington:
"If therefore any preacher appears among you who does not declare and inculcate these very doctrines concerning Jesus Christ, and the redemption of sinners through his blood, according to the riches of God's grace, which we delivered unto you, see that ye give him not the smallest encouragement, by entertaining him in your houses, or wishing him any success in his ministrations; for whoever wishes him success, or familiarly converses with him, is accounted by God as a criminal encourager and assistant of him in spreading his errors, to the dishonour of Christ and the eternal ruining of men."

As for whether God loves the sinner and hates the sin, If the Lord Wills, I may address that.

Answering Judaism.

*25th of July 2017. This point is a stretch about retroactively applying the false teachers context to Ahaziah. There maybe another explanation. It needs thinking about and I want to ensure no deception on my part.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

3 random points to address

I wanted to look at some points made on Paltalk roughly a half hour before this article was written. proorizo_1 (Point 1 and 3), WhatDoMuslimsKnow (Point 2). I confess I need to hear more of what proorizo said (Working on your comic doesn't help listening to a point on Paltalk, there is a time and a place for working on a comic but I have to be sensible when and having Paltalk open to hear someone's point while working on the comic is counter productive.)

Do Christians deny obedience?
Short answer biblically speaking is no. If one is truly in Christ, he will be obedient. Putting aside the debate of OSAS or Once Saved Always Saved, repentance and obedience are part and parcel of the Christian gospel and message. Jesus said "If you love me, you'll keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

Hebrews are not Israelites and are two different tribes
There was an odd point about Israelites and Hebrews not being the same. There is no basis for this. The word Hebrew refers to either the language or a person, namely a person who identifies as an Israelite. They are not a referrence to two different tribes. Also, The term Jew refers to the tribe of Judah and yes, you have later down the line a Galilee, Samaria and Judea, but that doesn't change an Israelite being a Hebrew in the Old Testament.

Was the word Christian changed over time
Was the name changed to merely professing belief in Jesus rather than obedience? Not really. The word Christian has never changed, it means follower of Christ. Someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus and lives contrary to his instructions deliberately, then he is not a Christian.

Answering Judaism

P.S. Anything I have said that's incorrect regarding the representation of your points, feel free to let me know.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

What Christians can learn from Hollywood: The Fate of the Furious

Truth be told, I have only seen this installment, namely Fast and Furious 8 or The Fate of the Furious as it is called in the USA, the rest I have not seen fully, so I am operating on limited knowledge, despite light browses on Wikipedia. It is a franchise that involves illegal street racing and heists (Can't say I would condone those things but I digress.)

However, one thing has caught my attention with this franchise (thanks to a parody), namely, family. In fact one of the films (Furious 7 if I recall) has one of the characters, Dom Toretto say "I ain't got friends, I've got family". There was a video that I saw a few weeks ago that pertains to this issue, that despite the fact the film series are dumb entertainment, they do have an emotional tether that does make you connect with the characters, that they are in a certain way, a family, not necessarily by blood relations, but just by the fact that they care for each other in that way.

I would guess you would have to watch the previous films to get the full weight of it, specifically from Fast 5 onwards (I assume), but The Fate of the Furious itself retains this running thread. There will be spoilers from this point on.

Dom is happily married to Letty Ortiz but he is forced to work for Cipher, a cyber terrorist when his former lover, who is revealed to have a son held captive on a stealth plane, forcing Dom to work with her or watch his family die and even betray his current family, Letty included. There is an interesting contrast, a man who loves his family and a woman who is cold and detached from humanity, seeing emotion as merely a biological axiom.

Cipher kind of reminds me of Jezebel to a certain extent, holding Dom under her thumb much like Jezebel did Ahab (Of course Ahab consented to Jezebel because he loved her, whereas Dom doesn't love Cipher but I digress.) I don't want to read too much into this but nevertheless it is fascinating, even if this isn't what the writer intended.

While the subject of family not being limited to biological relation but can refer to kinship towards each other for knowing each other for so long is a common thread in most movies, Not just in The Fast and Furiverse (what I call the franchise in general), it does raise an interesting point, especially for the Christian walk.

The church, the body of Christ is itself a family, which may entail blood relations but also those who are not even related in that way. The same could be seen in the past in Israel, such as the friendship between David and Johnathan (not a homosexual relationship as some are fond of propounding), they could be considered as family, brothers in particular because of their friendship.

It is when the church is divided that the family falls apart and that needs to be restored. Paul speaks of the church marching in step with the spirit, the believers walking together and keeping each other on the straight path and watching over each other, taking care of one another. See the following in Galatians 5:
"16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.".

If the Lord Wills, more maybe added to this paper.

Answering Judaism.

Monday, 15 May 2017

What Christians can learn from Hollywood: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars is approaching it's 40th anniversary on the 25th of May 2017 and has so far spawned 8 live action movies, cartoons, and a formerly canon expanded universe now known as Star Wars. It's a big franchise, but is there something that Christians can learn from said franchise? Yes. Specifically I want to focus on the Force Awakens, an amazing movie if you want to check it out.

There will be spoilers for the Force Awakens in this article so I say check it out first before coming back to this video.

Reconciliation and Restitution

One of the interesting things I noted when I went to see the Force Awakens again (and possibly in a facebook post that looked familiar), what one of the things that caught my attention, was that of reconciliation.

To reiterate a point I made in the previous paper on Doctor Strange, There is something here to take from the film, that restitution has to be made, whether it's criminal, civil or other ways, some compensation or a lot has to be made, even if it's being punished for a crime accordingly or restoring a relationship. Sometimes however, it may not be possible to restore a broken relationship between two people or several, it may be too late, but it's worth giving a try.

See David Pawson's talk on Philemon, specifically the section on restitution: 27:29-30:45: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj6VvtIQBIU

Some of the characters are running away from their past, Specifically Han, Finn and Luke:

  • Han running from his family that has been torn apart by his son, Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren turning to the dark side of the Force, with he and Leia separating from each other with Han going back to his old way of smuggling, the only life he knew outside of family. He is a bitter man running away from his past. Maz Kanata, a friend of Han tells him that he must go back to Leia. Han is confronted with this and has to rebuild his family, with the road to possible reconciliation with Leia as well as Leia trying to convince Han that there is good in in Kylo Ren. Han is given the courage to bring the family back.

  • Finn is running away from the First Order. He was born and bred to be a stormtrooper, While it was commendable he was getting away from the First Order, he had to deal with his past by overcoming his cowardice and begin an active fight against the First Order. He was a flawed man, he lied to Rey, a scavenger about where he came from and claimed he was a resistance fighter, He rescued Poe Dameron, a resistance pilot for his own reasons rather than because it was right the right thing to do (though he confessed the truth to both Poe and Rey). He has fight the First Order in order for his past to truly be dealt with and brought to a firm conclusion.

  • Luke Skywalker functions more as a plot device rather than a character, but he went into exile when Kylo Ren destroyed the Jedi and fell to the dark side. The ending of the Force Awakens can be interpreted in a number of way but just his brief encounter with Rey at the end can tie into this putting the past right. Is Rey trying to say while holding the lightsaber out "Come with me, we can restore the galaxy together" or "we need your help to put things right", to which Luke is saying "You're right, I must". No dialogue is spoken but that goes to show how good the ending scene is, nothing needs to be said.
The characters know they shouldn't run away from their problems, but must deal with them. It's a common thread found in many films, including Disney films, be it The Lion King and Aladdin.

The unbelieving world understands much better than too many Christians that you must try to make restitution, it is a common thread not only in the films I mentioned, but many programs point this out.

If anything, television does bear witness that man knows right from wrong but chooses to suppress it. 

Lord Willing if there is anything else we can take from Star Wars, I'll write on it.

Answering Judaism.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

What Christians can learn from Hollywood: Doctor Strange

Most Christians are quite dismissive of the movie industry, As pointed out in a previous paper, Both movies and video games are controversial among Christians. Some condemn them as worldly or childish and some see them as harmless but exercise caution in what they see. Me, I myself am a movie fan and fit in the latter category: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/what-christians-can-gain-from-movies.html

Lord Willing, there may be more articles made on more movies but we'll see what happens.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange is the 14th installment in a movie franchise called The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a film series based on comic books as made by Marvel. 

The series has made an incredible $11 billion at the box office and is currently unadjusted for inflation is the highest grossing film franchise in history, with James Bond and Harry Potter following behind. If you are wondering what my opinion of Dr Strange is, it's actually a really well written movie, pretty good overall.

Preface
Let me make one thing clear before I continue, I am aware that in the movie Doctor Strange, the characters engage in practices that the Bible condemns and warns people to stay away from such practices, make no mistake about that.

The characters use energy from other dimensions to cast spells, whether it be magical weapons, astral projection or drawing on dark power from another dimension. Witchcraft is something that must be repudiated, it mustn't be embraced (The same principle can be applied to Harry Potter if you can find anything in that franchise that agrees with and contradicts the Bible.)

That being said, Because there is an interesting message found within Doctor Strange that I think we can take aboard, but first, we need a quick run down of the story, spoilers if you have not see Doctor Strange.

Story and what we can learn

For those not in the know, Dr Stephen Strange was a brilliant (but egotistical) surgeon who is involved in an accident that ruins his hands and his career. He is forced to seek a cure for his affliction and in desperation tries various methods of healing to restore his hands to no avail. He learns of a man who was involved in a serious accident who was able to walk again and learns of a person known as the Ancient One whom he believes can help him.

Long story short, he is caught up in being involved in super heroics and is forced to become a sorcerer to defend the world from evil forces, including Dormammu, an evil demon from another dimension. There is a conversation that takes place in the movie where the Ancient One gives Dr Strange a choice, either go back to the life of being a surgeon or be something more and help more. There is more to just fame, there is more than just demonstrating incredible talent in an area.

Strange himself had a "friend" named Christine whom he didn't realize he didn't treat with a greatest respect until it was too late. Despite Christine trying to help him, Strange pushes her away and while the two reconcile and Strange is helped in recovering from wounds he sustained in a battle, that doesn't change the damage that has been done as a result of his selfishness.

There is something here to take from the film, that restitution has to be made, whether it's criminal, civil or other ways, some compensation or a lot has to be made, even if it's being punished for a crime accordingly or restoring a relationship. Sometimes however, it may not be possible to restore a broken relationship between two people or several, it may be too late, but it's worth giving a try.*

Disillusion

The villain, Caecillius, also suffering trauma of his own, lost his family and came to the Ancient One for help in the hopes of reviving his family, which she doesn't teach and feels betrayed by her. Stealing the Book of Cagliostro, a dark magic book, which would connect him to Dormammu, and grant him eternal life, seeing death as an enemy as well as time and that the only way to escape death is to become one with Dormammu and become part of the Dark Dimension. In fact he criticized the Ancient One for drawing on the power of the Dark Dimension to sustain her life.

This is where another interesting point comes into play, namely hypocrisy.

Baron Mordo, one of the Ancient One's loyal students looks up to the Ancient One as the one who helped him confront his demons, but is horrified when The Ancient One is using the Dark Dimension despite her prohibiting everyone else from doing it. Hypocrisy is damaging in any given situation but think of a case where the pastor of a church criticizes his congregation for engaging in sins that he himself is guilty of. Is it any wonder that the congregation is disillusioned with him and cannot trust him, ending up going their seperate way. They even feel this way possibly when one of their own breaks the rules without any remorse or regret that leads to repentance. Baron Mordo is disillusioned with the Ancient One and later Doctor Strange using the Eye of Agamotto, one of the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (despite his success in saving the world) that the sorcerers are not following their rules and thus walks away. 

Interesting considering when hear the story of a person who has left the Christian faith because they have been let down by people in the church and in many cases this is quite possible. Shadid Lewis' disillusion with his church and Mundane Matt's frustration with organised religion or other persons who have been hurt in some way, not knowing what Jesus is really like. It's not quite the same as Baron Mordo's story, but it's similar in concept.

Conclusion

Despite the fact the characters use spells to accomplish good or evil (Biblically its inconsequential what magic is used for because it involves using a source that's not God), there are many things you can take away from Doctor Strange that can resonate with us as Christians.

Lord Willing, there may be more papers similar to this, but you'll have to wait and see.

Answering Judaism.

*Let me bear clear I am not denigrating a job such as a surgeon or any lawful and right career, if anything Christians should be diligent in that work and do it as if Jesus himself is running the company or is a customer to whom you are providing a service. 

David Pawson has even said regarding God "He'd rather have a conscientious taxi driver than a careless missionary".

The point is, would you rather go back to a life that goes well and ok for you and helps others or do you want to serve others with a higher purpose and a greater good? In a Christian's case, doing his job in such a way it glorifies God, loving him and loving your neighbor. One could just be content with living his life out, but what does it amount to in the end?

You don't need a college degree to serve God, he can use anyone, be it a housewife, a construction worker, a surgeon etc. Even cleaning your workplace can be done in the name of Jesus.