Thursday, June 17, 2010
Monday, March 23, 2009
Most disciples never object with the commandment for Evangelism but they have serious reservations to the commandment for Apologetics due to misinterpretation, misunderstanding and many times because to skip hard work of study and research. Often I have experienced people’s resistance to the use of apologetics, reason and intellect. But they forget while speaking against apologetics, reason and intellect they use the same thing in the process. Apologetics is inescapable, Reason is inescapable, Intellect is Inescapable. You contradict yourself in the very process of criticizing the same. Hence, we need to recognize that Apologetics is an inescapable tool in evangelism in current cultural mood of Pluralism, relativism and postmodernism.
All these moods currently attack to the notion of Absolute Truth. All these moods says “all truth is relative”. If all truth is relative, then the claim Jesus is truth is relative to the Christian and therefore is not meant for all to follow. They say all religions and viewpoints are true which leads to Pluralism. They say “Truth is in the mind of the beholder” reducing truth as subjective and depending upon one’s own interpretation, leading to Postmodernism. If such is the current cultural mood, then claim Jesus is the way, the truth and the life makes no sense. In spite of all these moods and challenges, many Christians ignoring these fact simply says that we should simply proclaim the Gospel because Gospel is God’s work and not ours. We should not defend, give reason. Do we find such an attitude in the lifestyle of Apostle Paul who are argued, reasoned and defended the Gospel (Acts :17:17) ? Do we find such an attitude in Jesus who confronted, debated, asked questions, argued with people? Yet we do not want to emulate them. Let us be prepare to pursue apologetics and like apostle Paul say “5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2nd Corinthians 10 : 5)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
In 585 B.C., a man named Thales correctly predicted a solar eclipse. It was Thales' love for ordered knowledge that gave birth to philosophy, but Thales fervently sought the answer to another question. He knew the world was made of an infinite variety of things — plants, animals, clouds. What, he wondered, was the one basic element that pulled it all together? Thales thought that element must be water, but his students went on to expand the underlying reality to four elements—earth, air, water, and fire. Since then the quest for the philosopher has been to find unity in diversity.This very search has made inroads into our cultures. For example, the word quintessence literally means "the fifth essence." Every American coin reads E Pluribus Unum—out of the many, one. Out of our diversity, unity. And the very word university means to find unity in diversity.How did diversity come about, and how do we locate or identify the unity
This problem of unity and diversity or problem of One and Many has also been one of the struggles with Indian philosophers which has led to the formulation of various schools of thought. Indian philosopher Sankaracharya, following the upanishads, asserts that the sole cause of the universe is the One brahman that is really nirguNa. The problem with asserting One brahman that is without parts, changeless and eternal, as the only cause of the universe is this - the universe is normally perceived to be full of many separate parts which change all the time, and has little that is eternal in it. How is it that the changeless and non-relational brahman produces the variegated universe? Post Shankara Philosopher Mandana says regarding Unity and Diversity :
1) Either we should say like Mimamsaka Samsargavadins that both unity and diversity are separately real ;
2) Or We should say like Bhartrprapancha and the Jaina Anekantavadins that reality is both unity and diversity ;
3) Or we should say like the Buddhish (Svantantra-vijnanavadin) Atyantikabhedavadins that only diversity is real and that unity is an appearance;
4) Or we should say like the Vedantin Abhedavadins that only unity is real and that diversity is an appearance.
Mandana supports the fourth view which advocates that unity alone is real while diversity is only an appearance. In this quest for the search of Unity and Diversity, Many schools of thought have denied the diversity which has resulted in the emergence of Monistic and Pantheistic School of philosophy. While those who tried to bring diversity has resulted into the formulation of Duality School, Qualified Non-duality School, Samkhya School etc. Furthermore in answering the critics of Hinduism that it is polytheistic, they have suggested that God is One but has many forms. So all the gods and goddesses are different aspect of same ultimate one God, thus have tried to assimilate the Many into One or diversity into Unity. When Many are assimilated into One instead of Keeping One and Many in equality, the One is elevated at higher level than Many, which leads into development of Hierarchy. That’s why there is hierarchy in the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. Some are considered more powerful and some are considered less powerful which results into development of such metaphysical concept of ultimate reality which becomes the basis for human society and that hierarchy which is within the metaphysical reality is reflected in the life of society which has resulted into the development of Caste system in Hinduism. On the other hand Monistic schools have completely eliminated all diversity as unreal. They have stressed only unity at the expense of diversity, which has removed all the distinction between creator and creation and I /You. If such distinction do not exist then the problem is there is no need for Vedas or any scripture to tell about advaita, as there is no real I and You. And how does such system incorporate the whole idea of avatars or God becoming Man or whole idea of Guruism. If such ideas are embraced than it follows, God in Enlightenment is teaching God in ignorance about about to how to get enlightenment. With regards to avatars God is becoming man to save the righteous who are also God and destroy the Unrighteous who again are God. But if all distinction are not existent then the distinction between dharma and adharma or righteous and sinners also evaporates, then what’s the need of avatars ? So the problem of unity and diversity remains unresolved. So where do we find the answer ? The only answers to the quest of Greek philosophers and Indian philosophers is found in the doctrine of Trinity
1) In Trinity both Unity and Diversity are stressed Equally Important. Neither Unity is greater nor is diversity greater. Therefore the society following this metaphysical concept has developed the idea of equality among human beings while hierarchy and caste system has no place into it.
2) Hinduism is longing for one ultimate absolute which is unfortunately Impersonal Brahman and also relationship between diverse gods and goddesses. This longing is adequately met in Trinity as there is unity of essences and diversity of persons who are in perfect interpersonal relationships.
3) Gujarati philosopher Gunvant Shah says that the western emphasis on Individuality and Eastern Emphasis on Community is synthesized in the Family. We agree that family should demonstrate both individuality and community, but due to sin and resultant rupture in relationships it has not been able to produce perfect relationship. That is very much demonstrated in many of the family based television programs and serials and by also by observing the Indian family and society. This quest for bringing together Individuality and community is perfectly modeled in Trinity and as humanity is created in the image of trinity where both individuality and community as been perfectly exhibited, longs to find retention of both these aspects i.e individual and community, is satisfied in Trinity.
4) The Triune God is ultimately Moral and so becomes basis for Morality. Morality in bible is defined in terms of relationships rather than asceticism and is exhibited perfectly by virtue of love which is found in Trinity. Hence the distinction between good and bad is real, therefore God becoming Man to resolve the problem of Righteousness and unrighteousness among human beings sound meaningful and logical.
5) Many have tried to compare Trinity with Hindu trimurti or triads Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva . Here again there are lots of irreconcilable differences.
a) According to Monistic schools the Hindu trinity is part of larger Pantheistic Impersonal Reality which is at higher level than these triads and as a such are not ultimate. Whereas the Christian trinity is the ultimate reality. There is no other higher reality than trinity.
b) The each god of Hindu triad has a eternal consortium i.e. Brahma and saraswati,
Vishnu and Laxmi and Shiva and shakti which ends up in formulation of 6 unity rather than Trinity. No such concept of eternal consortium of each person of trinity is found in Christian Trinity.
c) There certainly was not the present concept of a Trimurti present until the later development and popularity of Vishnu and Shiva. There is essentially no worship or cult of Brahma (the first god of the Trimurti), and many Hindus do not worship either Vishnu or Shiva. This is all to say that the concept of the Trimurti is a non-essential and descriptive observation about Hinduism, not a doctrine of the very nature of God Himself. In contrast to this, the Trinity is a very essential teaching of the very nature of God Himself.
Let me conclude once again by quoting Dr. Ravi Zacharias. “We are looking for unity in diversity. I suggest that there is only one explanation for unity in diversity, and that is in the doctrine of the trinity, where right from the beginning, there was unity, diversity, community in the trinity, and that’s the principle you and I need to adhere to.”
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Very often Muslims argue “that Jesus is never reported as saying “I am God” in the gospel, and therefore try to refute the deity of Christ. Muslims and those who deny the deity of Christ needs to recognize that in order to understand the deity of Christ they have to interpret the claims of Christ from the perspective of Jewish context. Let me reiterate the words of Peter Kreeft about Jesus in his book THE PHILOSOPHY OF JESUS “He was not a Gnostic or a New Ager. He was not a Modernist or secular humanist. He was not a Marxist or socialist. He was not a Platonic philosopher. He was not a Brahmin pantheist. He was not an Aryan racist. He was not a social worker or a pop psychologist or a pagan myth or a magician. He was not a Democrat or a Republican; in fact, he was not an American. He was not a libertarian or a monarchist or an anarchist or a radical or a neoconservative. He was not a medieval or a modern man. He was a Jew”. To interpret the claims of Christ and understand the self understanding of Jesus, one has to put his legs in the shoes of early Jewish disciples and see through their eyes or worldview.
One’s worldview determines one’s interpretation of text. Muslim approaching the Gospel interprets the claims of Christ from Islamic perspective rather than Jewish perspective and therefore they come to wrong conclusions. Their whole notion of how can God have a son or with the title “son of God” is based on misunderstanding that God has a biological son.
He is not a Biological Son but Spiritual Son.
He is not a Temporal Son but Eternal Son
He is not one out of many sons but Unique Son.
He is not a distinct God but Distinct person in the Trinity
He is not Only fully God but also fully Man
He is one person with two natures (Divine-Human)
Jesus (God the Son) is one in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit who together constitute “One God” rather than “three Gods “as there is only One God in the worldview of Jesus with only difference that Islam Posits God to be a “Singular Unity” whereas Christians affirms God as a “Plural Unity”. A family is a plural unity and if that family commences a business in partnership with another family than that could be said that one family has associated another family as partner. In the same way A God who is a Plural Unity is not associating himself with another God as partner. That is why in the Old Testament God repeatedly says “there is no God besides me” therefore the whole idea of “shirk” is not applicable to the God of Bible as the God of bible never affirms the existence of other gods and goddesses as he Alone is True God.
Now let us examine the claims and actions of Christ from the Jewish perspective.
1) Jesus forgives sins : There are many instances in the Gospels where Jesus forgives sins particularly in the episode of healing of the paralytic. Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26; Matthew 9:2-8; we find the Pharisees mentioning "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" Let me put the whole logic in syllogism
Premise 1 : Only God forgives Sins
Premise 2 : Jesus forgives Sins
Conclusion : Therefore Jesus is God
2) Jesus has authority on the Nature : While in the boat disciples encounters a storm and were terrified. At that moment Jesus calms the storm simply by a command. Matthew 8:23-27; 27The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" The Jews believe God is creator and sustainer of the universe and only he has authority upon the creation. Unlike pantheist they did not believe creation and creator to be one and divine. Hence when Jesus stills the storm they are perplexed about his identity. Let me put it in syllogism.
Premise 1 : Only God has authority upon creation
Premise 2 : Jesus exhibits authority upon creation
Conclusion : Jesus is God
3) Jesus accepts worship: when Satan tempted Jesus and asked Jesus to worship him, Jesus said “it is written you shall worship and serve God alone”. Yet Jesus accepted worship at many times.
Despite the fact that both the Old and New Testaments forbid worshiping anyone other than God (Ex. 20:1-4; Deut. 5:6-9; Acts 14:15; Rev. 22:8-9), Jesus accepted worship on at least nine occasions. These include worship from:
1. a healed leper (Matt. 8:2)
2. a ruler whose son Jesus had healed (Matt. 9:18)
3. the disciples after a storm (Matt. 14:33)
4. a Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:25)
5. the mother of James and John (Matt. 20:20)
6. a Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6)
7. a healed blind man (John 9:38)
8. all the disciples (Matt. 28:17)
9. Thomas, who said, “My Lord and my God” (John20:28)
All of these people worshiped Jesus without one word of rebuke from him. Not only did Jesus accept this worship, he even commended those who acknowledged his deity (John 20:29; Matt. 16:17). This could only be done by a person who seriously considered himself to be God
4) Jesus excludes himself from others : When disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus said “when you pray, Pray like this “ Our father in Heaven”. Jesus is not telling them “Let us pray” as the prayer contains a plea for the forgiveness of sins, which is not applicable to Jesus.
Jesus always distinguished his relationship with God as unique type. He always addressed God as “my father” and “Your father” and “My God” and “your God”. Never had he mentioned our father or Our God.
5) Jesus use of Parables for himself: Jesus also declared his deity implicitly through parables. In several of his parables, Jesus depicts himself in the role of God. For example:
• In responding to the Pharisees’ complaint that Jesus is receiving and dining with sinners (Luke 15:2), Jesus tells three parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15:4-32). The implication is that Jesus is doing what the Old Testament says God does: he is a shepherd who goes and finds what is lost, and a forgiving father who welcomes home repentant sinners (Ezek. 34:11; Ps. 103:8-13). (Incidentally, the Pharisees are represented by the complaining older son in the parable of the prodigal son. The Pharisees, like the older son, mistakenly think they deserve the father’s gifts because of their good works. So this parable not only affirms the deity of Christ but also teaches that salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned, only accepted.)
• In Matthew 19:28-30, Jesus declares that he—the “Son of Man”—will rule on the glorious throne of Israel at the renewal of all things, and that his followers will rule with him. He then immediately teaches the parable of the workers and the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16). That’s where the kingdom of God is represented by a vineyard owned by an employer. The employer pays all workers equally, regardless of time worked, thereby communicating that God’s grace is not based on any kind of merit such as length of service (“the first will be last and the last will be first”). Jesus is represented by the employer who owns the vineyard and dispenses grace freely. This equates him with God because, in the Old Testament, God owns the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-7). (As we have seen, his use of “Son of Man” is also a claim to deity.)
• Jesus refers to himself as the “bridegroom” on several occasions (Mark 2:19; Matt. 9:15; 25:1; Luke 5:34) including in the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). Since the Old Testament identifies God as the bridegroom (Isa. 62:5; Hos. 2:16), Jesus is equating himself with God. There are several other instances of Jesus implicitly claiming deity through parables. While we don’t have space to treat them all here, Philip Payne concludes, “Out of Jesus’ fifty-two recorded narrative parables, twenty depict him in imagery which the Old Testament typically refers to God.”
(taken from “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler)
1) Jesus claims “I AM”. In Old Testament God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:13-14). Jesus in the Gospel of John says “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:56-59).I AM is the self-existent One. He has no past or future because he is eternal. He’s not in time. Jesus was claiming to be that eternal, self existent One, and that’s why the Jews picked up stones to stone him.
6) Jesus claims “oneness with God” : In John 10:30 Jesus says “I and father are one”. Peter Kreeft says “If a Jew said to his rabbi, “I just discovered that I’m God,” the rabbi would rend his clothes and cry, “Blasphemy! Insanity! Arrogance! Idiocy!” But if a Hindu said that to his guru, the guru would smile and say, “Congratulations. You finally found out. Welcome to the ranks of the enlightened.” That is what we find in the passage from john 10: 31-32 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
As I conclude the article I want to quote Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek from the book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist :
Imagine your neighbor making these kinds of claims: “I am the first and the last—the self-existing One. Do you need your sins forgiven? I can do it. Do you want to know how to live? I am the light of the world—whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Do you want to know whom you can trust? All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Do you have any worries or requests? Pray in my name. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. Do you need access to God the Father? No one comes to the Father except through me. The Father and I are one.” What would you think about your neighbor if he seriously said those things? You certainly wouldn’t say, “Gee, I think he’s a great moral teacher!” No, you’d say this guy is nuts, because he’s definitely claiming to be God. Again, no one has articulated this point better than C. S. Lewis, who wrote: I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to
Friday, February 27, 2009
In the absence of plurality within Allah, Islam runs into a problem of relatability within Allah. How can Allah be merciful or compassionate? These are relational qualities. These can exist in Allah only if there is an actual relationship within his being expressed in love and communication. Quran is referred as the “word of God” signifying the capacity of communication in Allah. But to communicate, love and relate Allah must be more than one person or a plural unity. Otherwise he would have to depend on finite creation to actualize his qualities. Not only that the moment you conceive God as “Personal” or Ultimate reality as Personal” one has to infer “Relationship” and “Communication ” intrinsic to the being of God. That’s why when we study the conceptions of God in ancient Greek or Roman Mythology or Hinduism like Krishna who has “Radha as consortium” or any others gods or goddesses are found existing in community and relationships. To conceive God as Personal leads also to conceive him in relationship and communication. In Christian faith we find the right integration of “plurality” and “unity” in the being of God. God is Being in Relationship. A community of FATHER-SON-HOLYSPIRIT, where there is retentions of humanity’s quest for Monotheism (desire for oneness of God) as well as “relationship and communitcation (desired in polytheistic conception of God)