Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Primer to the “Carnal Christian” Theory Part 1


More than a decade ago, a well-meaning acquaintance introduced me to a booklet popularized by the ecumenical, parachurch organization Campus Crusade for Christ. It was entitled, “Have you made the wonderful discovery of the Spirit-filled life?” This booklet gave me an informal introduction to the “Carnal Christian” theory. Within this booklet is a tripartite delineation of man into the “Natural man”, the “Spiritual man”, and the “Carnal Christian” man.

This doctrine is taught in numerous churches, and preached from a myriad of pulpits all over the globe. The theory has a facade of orthodoxy because it is presented in the popular Scofield Reference Bible; it even has the endorsement of the cognoscenti. Unfortunately, the “Carnal Christian” theory is an insidious, pervasive and dangerous ailment.

Patients who succumb to this malady are spiritually ill, but they have a false assurance of salvation. This erroneous theory reassures them that being a Christian does not require submission to the lordship of Christ. This illness is particularly endemic among those who call themselves dispensationalists, although I acknowledge the fact that not all dispensationalists contract this ailment. John MacArthur Jr. of Master’s Seminary, for example, vehemently opposes this heresy.

The sequelae of the Carnal Christian infection cannot be overemphasized. It has produced a generation of “believers” who have no qualms about professing the name of Christ, but at the same time, feels perfectly at home with sin. They may have a theological comprehension of Christ’s atoning death, and the concept of forensic justification, but they are unwilling to submit themselves to the lordship of Christ. They want Christ as their Saviour, but not as their King. They themselves remain the captain of their lives, and the lord of their souls.

These “Carnal Christians” perceive that they are delivered from hell, but not from the power of sin; Christ has redeemed them from the condemnation of the law, but has not given them the power to live in the Spirit. This heretical teaching cultivates a generation of “professors” who presume that holiness is optional for the Christian.

What is the Carnal Christian Theory?

The carnal Christian theory was conceived to accommodate all the supposed converts of contemporary evangelism, which has omitted biblical repentance from its preaching. These converts had “made a decision for Christ”; they had walked an aisle, said a prayer, and perhaps even shed a tear. But their lifestyles and inherent desires are indistinguishable from those with an unregenerate heart. They love the world, and the world loves them. They act like the heathen, live like the heathen, and think like the heathen. Consequentially, a theory must be conjured up to explain the sudden escalation in church attendance and evangelism statistics. Some passages of Scripture must be made to say that such worldly, egocentric and unrepentant “professors” are indeed Christians.

Proponents of the “Carnal Christian” theory advocates a two-experience view of the Christian life. In stage one, a person accepts Jesus Christ as his Saviour, and thus escapes from eternal damnation. After securing this immunity from hell, a person can subsequently decide whether he wants to receive Christ as his Lord. This is only an option though - it is merely the key to a “higher” Christian experience. He can, therefore, choose to disobey the word of God, live a life of rebellion against God’s Word, and yet have Jesus as his Saviour. Such a “Carnal Christian” is believed to “be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). He will loose his rewards in heaven, but he is absolutely “fire-proofed”.

Classical dispensationalism teaches that repentance belongs to the “dispensation of law”, and not the “dispensation of grace”. Some dispensationalists will argue that if repentance and sanctification are required of Christians, then salvation is not by faith in Christ alone, but also in works. According to this system of hermeneutics, professing Christians who refuse to submit to Jesus as Lord - that is, those who refuse to lead lives characterized by obedience and holiness - are called “Carnal Christians”.

The Carnal Christian theory touches the heart of soteriology and the gospel. It constitutes an essential part of the debate between the “free-grace” proponents and the “lordship” teachers. As the “Carnal Christian” hypothesis confounds the doctrine of sanctification and the understanding of genuine salvific faith, it is a critical error for Christians to address. It does not only have theological ramifications, but is also intimately intertwined with practical Christian living, experience and evangelism.

Charles Ryrie, a “free-grace” teacher, rightly states, “The importance of this question cannot be overestimated in relation to both salvation and sanctification. The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is false and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) …” (Charles C. Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life (Chicago: Moody, 1969), 170.)

Some Clarifications Regarding Christian Sanctification

I acknowledge that Christians are in different states of sanctification, and that there are many degrees of sanctification. There are babes in Christ, and different stages of “babyhood”. The Bible teaches about sin in a Christian’s life, and that genuine believers can backslide grievously. A Christian can also be carnal in some areas of his life during many stages of his life.

In the Scofield Reference Bible, Cyrus I. Scofield wrote:

“Paul divides men into three classes: “Natural i.e. the Adamic man, unrenewed through the new birth; “Spiritual” i.e. the renewed man as Spirit-filled and walking in the Spirit in full communion with God; “Carnal”, “fleshly”, i.e. the renewed man who walking “after the flesh”, remains a babe in Christ” (Scofield Reference Bible, 1213-1214).

Notice that Scofield divides Christians into two different classes: the “Spiritual” Christian, and the “Carnal” Christian. This entire doctrinal controversy revolves around these questions: Is it true that there is a category of Christians whose entire bent, inclination and leaning is in the direction of carnality? Can a bona fide Christian possess absolutely no desire to submit himself to Christ’s kingship, and persist in his fleshliness?

Basic Principles of Hermeneutics

Before refuting the “Carnal Christian” theory, we shall recapitulate certain salient principles of hermeneutics. Firstly, we believe that there is no real contradiction in Scripture, and that any apparent contradiction can be resolved by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Secondly, obscure portions of Scripture must be interpreted with the clear passages in the Bible. Thirdly, major doctrines must never be formulated from an isolated verse or passage of Scripture. It will soon be clear that the “Carnal Christian” heresy violates all the aforementioned principles of hermeneutics.

To be continued in Part 2

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mummy or the maid


I read with some ambivalence a letter published in the Straits Times forum entitled “Young adult thinks parents should take responsibility for their children rather than rely on ‘the authorities’” by Eric Ho Wee Kim.[1] I wonder if I should agree or disagree with his observations.

Mr. Ho wrote:
“All too often, there are letters from parents with concerns or complaints about content in the media or issues their children have to deal with in and out of school. Almost always, a reply is expected from 'the authorities'. This raises a question in my mind: ‘Are parents fulfilling their roles as parents?’”
A more pertinent question for Singaporeans today would be “Functionally, who are really the parents?” The average child in Singapore goes to school, attends tuition, and even takes up extra classes like music or ballet. But the perspicacious observer would discern that the moral education and character building of the child are actually executed by the family’s domestic helper, the grandparents, Rover the collie, and the one-eyed monster – the goggle box.

An interesting phenomenon in Singapore would be the amount of time each child spends on watching television. The most frequent, non-confrontational communication between family members at home would be that of a child, and the resident goggle box. The Singaporean child would spend at least 12.3 hours per week watching television; that would average to 1.75 hours per day. [2] The programs watched by the toddler include a hodgepodge of cartoons, Barney, Sesame Street, and even an occasional ‘Baywatch’ or ‘Desperate Housewives’ - with his parents’ permission and supervision, of course.

The child is conveniently placed in front of the television as part of ‘good parenting,’ that is, parenting skills that will allow the parents to spend more time earning good money. But which child in Singapore utilizes an exclusive 1.75 hours talking to their mother daily? That would be 105 minutes face to face with the mummy who is usually very busy with her work.

It is no wonder that the average Singaporean child acquire at least three languages in his childhood: English, Mandarin, and an assortment of linguistic expletives. Most of his vocabulary and moral values are procured insidiously from certain cartoon series and adult sitcoms. Sexual content and violence in television programs have also increased exponentially over the past few decades. And the Singaporean parent can be assured that Judeo-Christian values are not part of national education in this country.

In the United States, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of programs aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB, PBS Lifetime, TNT, USA, and HBO gave the following conclusions: “The study found that 70 per cent of all shows included some sexual content, averaging about five scenes with sexual content per hour. That’s up from about three scenes per hour in 1998, and from nearly 4.” [3] Thus, according to this survey, television programs in the United States contain twice the number of sex scenes compared to seven years ago. This survey does not take into account the programs’ language content or moral philosophy.

Singapore would not fare any better if a similar survey were to be conducted on Mediacorp’s programs. A production that taps into the feral instinct of a desperately prurient audience, “Desperate Housewives” ranks as one of the most popular television series in Singapore. Other hits on the goggle box include “Crime Scene Investigation”, “Singapore Idol,” and some locally produced sitcoms with its fair share of lewdness, burlesque and Singlish.

Adultery and fornication are portrayed as part of a pleasurable, healthy lifestyle in television shows such as “Desperate Housewives.” Impressionable young minds, as a result, might imbibe certain values that no decent parent would ever sanction: sexual promiscuity, unfaithfulness, irresponsibility, lesbianism and homosexuality. The Christian family would do well to heed the Psalmist admonition, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3).” Nevertheless, the television continues to provide the child not only with entertainment, but also serves as a constant source of social commentary and moral lessons from the viewpoint of Hollywood.

As divorce rates are soaring in Singapore, coupled with the rapidly declining childbirth rates, the government has to answer a question quickly: “What could be the reasons for the widespread dissolution of marriage covenants in Singapore’s society?”

If Adam insists on marrying Steve, or if Eve prefers to wed her girlfriend, it does not require a biologist to figure out that such family units would not contribute to a nation’s birth statistics. Contrariwise, such a trend in human sexuality would seriously jeopardise individual fecundity. With increasing decadence and infidelity within our society, together with the escalating number of same-sex relationships, the integrity of each Singaporean family is indubitably threatened. Unless the government is able to understand the gestalt of the situation, and provide the nation with the required solution, we can expect the social fabric to collapse over the next few decades.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, homosexual couples can be legally married. Innumerable same-sex couples are flocking to marriage registries all across the country to set up their own families. This includes singer Sir Elton John and his “long term partner,” David Furnish. In fact, it had been predicted that up to 22,000 couples would register over the next five years. So, if your own child tells you he is getting married soon, ask whether you are expecting a daughter-in-law or a son-in-law. By the way, same-sex marriage is still outlawed in Singapore.

A couple of days ago, I saw a child in a yellow T-shirt with a Barney soft toy in his arms asking his father, “Papa, why does that mummy look so young?” The father, unflustered by the child’s question, answered awkwardly, “She is not the mother. She is the maid.”

Another anomaly is taking place in this nation over the past years. Conflicts between mother and child in public places are apparently decreasing in frequency. This is not due to improved interpersonal relationships or greater understanding, but a consequence of the rampant replacement of Singaporean mothers with domestic helpers.

I am not reminiscing about some science fiction work whereby humans are progressively and clandestinely replaced with the bodies of invading aliens from another galaxy. I am speaking of another social phenomenon in Singapore: the pervasive usage of domestic helpers in families as ersatz mothers.

Gone are the days when the petulant child creates a sturm und drang in shopping malls. With the primary objective eliminated – that is, to vex the mother into purchasing his favorite toy – the child is left to his own devices with the maid of the house. The child’s mother is, on the other hand, battling with the rise and fall of stocks and shares in a commercial enterprise.

In times past, the Singaporean mother would usually stay at home, and perform her duties as the matron (Proverbs 31). However, the double income family is now the norm in this country. Both father and mother brings back the bread, or rather, the gold. It is more profitable to have a double income, and leave the children with their maid; but it is most profitable to leave the kids with their grandparents, because grandparents do not require a monthly salary to get them doing the errands. But sadly, not all grandparents are long-lived.

Holding on to jobs that bring great dividends, with car loans and home mortgages to boot, it is indeed tempting to worship the god of Singapore – filthy lucre. But the Christian family must never sacrifice the proper upbringing of the child for a bowl of plutocratic pottage. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).”

So when the character building of a child is dependant upon the domestic helper, the goggle box and household pets, we do not expect good moral values or civic mindedness in the young Singaporean, or do we?

Returning to the question Mr. Eric Ho had asked earlier, “Are parents fulfilling their roles as parents?” I believe the children themselves best answer this question. Look at any child, assess his character and mien, and you will see a nebulous reflection of his parents’ nurture, or the lack of it.

The authorities, the church and foreign labor can never substitute the godly upbringing and nurturing that a Christian father or mother can provide. But again, if the head of the family is not performing his role as spiritual leader, neither can the child perceive the father as the role model. Who knows, Rover the collie might someday usurp the position of patriarch cum matriarch in the heart of the Singaporean child.

Footnotes

1. Eric Ho Wee Kim, “Young adult thinks parents should take responsibility for their children rather than rely on ‘the authorities,’” Straits Times Forum. Internet; accessed 23 May 2006; available from http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/forum/story/0,5562,394769,00.html. Also see Nicodemus Ching Cheok Hui, “Kidz Bop spreads wrong values,” Straits Times Forum. Internet; accessed 23 May 2006; available from http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/forum/story/0,5562,394129,00.html.

2. Wai Peng Lee and Eddie C. Y. Kuo, “Internet and Displacement Effect: Children's Media Use and Activities in Singapore,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 7, no. 2 (2002), available from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol7/issue2/singapore.html#Television. This paper also noted an increase of Internet usage associated with decreased television viewing. Teenagers in Singapore are often engaged in Internet gaming activities.

3. “Most Sexed-up Shows on Idiot Box,” AP, Hindustan Times, 10th November 2006.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dawkins’ god


In a British broadcast entitled “The Root of All Evil?” on Channel 4 in the UK, evolutionist professor Richard Dawkins harangued Christianity as the greatest threat facing humanity.

He rants, “I'm very concerned about the religious indoctrination of children. I want to show how faith acts like a virus that attacks the young and infects generation after generation . . . It's time to question the abuse of childhood innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation. And I want to show how the scriptural roots of the Judeo-Christian moral edifice are cruel and brutish . . . What in the 21st century are we doing venerating a book [the Bible] that contains such stuff? . . . The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction - jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic cleanser urging His people on to acts of genocide . . . When it comes to children, I think of religion as a dangerous virus. It's a virus which is transmitted partly through teachers and clergy, but also down the generations from parent to child to grandchild. Children are especially vulnerable to infection by the virus of religion.

What Dawkins didn’t say is probably more lethal than the imminent danger of an Avian Flu pandemic.

The cancer of evolutionism is surreptitiously eating away society’s moral fabric at an alarming rate. Dawkins’ pet theory – Neo-Darwinism – teaches students that all Homo sapiens and bananas came from a common ancestor. Just like the average household plant, humans are allegedly “proven” to have evolved from a pre-biotic slime some 3 million years ago. Unknown to the initiate, this “empirical” proof is tenuous at best. It is based upon a fantasy dreamt up by religious atheists and agnostics to do away with a Creator.

If evolutionism is true, moral values and societal ethics are logically dependant upon the whimsical decisions of the majority. Without an omnipotent, omniscient Law Giver, the existence of any moral law is inherently contradictory. That which is right or wrong will eventually depend upon the common opinions of the mob. Mobocracy will be the ultimate rule of life.

Again, if humans are indeed the product of blind chance, mutations and natural selection, the existence of absolute moral values cannot be justified. How can molecules and atoms account for the genesis of morality? How dare a Neo-Darwinist believes in human rights? If “jaws and claws” are the rules of survival, and if indeed, survival is of the fittest, then that which is weak, diseased or etiolated ought to be eliminated by nature. In fact, the murder of societal misfits ought to be a quotidian occurrence. We should redirect the question back to Professor Dawkins: “What in the 21st century are we doing venerating a fatuous, pseudo-scientific theory like Neo-Darwinism?”

Apparently, Dawkins believes that the “Judeo-Christian moral edifice are cruel and brutish” because it emphasizes monogamy, family values and love for fellow humans. I believe professor Dawkins would be most pleased if such “Judeo-Christian” values are expunged from his own family and society. Perhaps Dawkins would do well to “walk his talk.”

Hitler, Milosevic and Pol Pot derived their infamous philosophy from social Darwinism. It is Dawkins’ god - evolution - who advocates the expeditious purification of the human race via ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter. After all, who else but Dawkins’ god is the “petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic cleanser urging His people on to acts of genocide?”

The indoctrination of innumerable children in public schools all over the world with the religion of Neo-Darwinism, and its accompanying moral relativism, is ironically paid with tax dollars, including the tax dollars of Christians and Catholics.

If there is “a virus that attacks the young and infects generation after generation,” it must be Dawkins’ theory of evolution, and the carnage it would bring if allowed to proliferate in the countless, credulous minds of students. Unfortunately, this virus is transmitted partly through parents and teachers, but also “down the generations” from professor to scientist to student.

The only immunization available for the population today is proper, unbiased education with Science, not pseudo-science. The ghost of the metaphysical entity called evolution will never be exorcised, unless scientists are willing to examine all the available, empirical evidence, and acquire the courage to come to a sane conclusion.

(Note: I have discussed the evidence against evolutionism in a series of seminars held in Singapore. See here and here.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Almost Christian


I once asked a leader of a megachurch in Singapore, “Do you know the fundamentals of the Christian faith?”

He replied emphatically, “Christianity is all about Christ. I know Jesus, and that’s enough for me. It’s love that matters. Don’t talk to me about doctrine. Talk to me about Christ, and Christ alone.”

This megachurch leader reminded me of a worship service I attended more than a decade ago. That worship began with a blaring cacophony rivalled only by the most jarring rock band in Asia. As the drumbeat builds up to a crescendo, the worshippers trembled violently as if a thousand volts were passing through their bodies. Some jumped and gyrated like cobras enchanted by the tune of the pipe. Hands were waving wildly like willows in the wind; faces were flushed as in an apoplectic rage.

Suddenly, the worship leader muttered an incantation, “God loves you! Show Him that you love Him too!” The mesmerized audience responded with twitching eyelids and flipping, dishevelled hair. This was accompanied by the ear-piercing shrieks of unintelligible sounds and babbles thought to be the manifestation of the Spirit. The sequence of worship was repeated for 2 whole hours in different rhythms: samba, rumba, slow rock and bossa nova. Even a short rap session performed by a group of teenagers was squeezed between songs.

Noticeably, the audience were entranced. But most of all, the worshippers felt worshipful. Amidst the drumbeats, the waving hands and the nodding heads, the worshippers could feel an ambience of love, as though God loved them - acne, warts, and all.

The lights were dimmed. A man in suit started a sermonette on the topic of “love.” His theology is uncomplicated, and could possibly be summarized in three words: God is love. He preached that Christians ought to love indiscriminately. Even the God he described was an adorable, sensitive, and “a very nice guy.” Not very much like Jehovah of the Old Testament, he says. “God is concerned with salvation, not revenge!” “God is love, my friends. So how can a loving God send anyone to hell?” “Jesus loves you, no matter what you do.” I saw tears flowing down the cheeks of those in the auditorium. But if God really loves man no matter what man does, He is not the God of the Bible, isn’t He?

The preacher went on to give his treatise on Christology. Once again, his doctrine of Christ is relatively straightforward. It can be summarized in a sentence: “Jesus loves you.” And “you” refers to “whosoever is listening to his sermon.” His Jesus is a sentimental Jesus, an effeminate God-Man who tries very hard to woo sinners to Himself. This Jesus probably had bushy eyebrows, thick lips and epicene features. Most crucially, this Jesus loves everybody, and knows nothing of hell. If there were really hell fire, this loving Jesus would make an ice cube so huge even He cannot lift it. And the rich man in hell wouldn’t be asking Lazarus for a drink. There will be a cocktail bar not too far down the street.

Jesus, according to him, is the greatest entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He is the CEO of the largest organization on Earth – the church. The pope and bishops are His trusted henchmen. And tithing is the best investment shareholders can make in this company. The most naturally thing to do – of course, for the successful deputy CEO – is to urge all shareholders to empty their pockets into the company’s investments.

Unfortunately, the lovey-dovey CEO called Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.

This is the Christ of an “almost Christian”, and the God of an almost Christianity. The “almost Christian” believes in an almost Jesus. But that almost Jesus does not save. Likewise, the almost Jesus’ of Mormonism, Armstrongism, Jehovah Witness, Romanism and Liberalism do not save.

The journey of faith must never be devoid of Truth. True faith is based upon sound knowledge and doctrine. Sound doctrine is based upon the Word of God, and genuine faith enables the Christian to delight in sound doctrine. Bishop J.C. Ryle once commented, “You can talk about Christian experience all you wish, but without doctrinal roots it is like cut flowers stuck in the ground - it will wither and die.”

My sister once worshipped in a mega-church in Singapore. But when the theatrics no longer conjure up those sentimental feelings, the mind is left with a chasm too wide for any stage histrionics to bridge. Paul said, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).” This lack of knowledge was eventually filled with a mawkish, New Age positivism. And Theism was replaced with her newfound New Age Pantheism.

Aidan W. Tozer warned, “The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness.”

My sister remains till this day a victim of a “zeal of God” which is not according to knowledge and sound doctrine. She was an almost Christian. But an almost Christian is tragically not a bona fide Christian.

Many benighted souls like my sister may eventually join the ranks of the “almost Christians” in church history, together with Balaam the prophet, Jehu the king, and Judas the apostle. Sadly, the world hates them, because they were almost Christians. And God hates them, because they are but hypocrites and deceivers. Ultimately, they deceive themselves unto eternal perdition.

I shall conclude with a sobering thought from B. H. Carroll:

“A church with a little creed is a church with a little life. The more divine doctrines a church can agree on, the greater its power, and the wider its usefulness. The fewer its articles of faith, the fewer its bonds of union and compactness.

The modern cry: 'Less creed and more liberty,' is a degeneration from the vertebrate to the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. Definitive truth does not create heresy--it only exposes and corrects. Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but none the less deadly.

Just so it is not good discipline that created backsliding and other sins of Christians. But discipline is oftentimes the only means of saving a church. To hold to discipline for immoralities and relax it on doctrine puts the cart before the horse and attempts to heal a stream while leaving the fountain impure. To Christ and the apostles false creeds were the most deadly things, and called most for the use of the knife. . . .

Again, I solemnly warn the reader against all who depreciate creeds, or who would reduce them to a minimum of entrance qualifications into the church.” (An Interpretation of the English Bible: Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews, pp. 140-41, 150)

What a Gathering!


Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) recently invited Dr Paul Lee Tan to lecture on the subject of “The Interpretation of Prophecy.” Dr Jeffrey Khoo, the academic dean of FEBC, wrote: “FEBC’s Daily Vacation Bible College (DVBC) is an annual week-long course of daily lectures on a special topic or theme taught by the faculty or a guest professor from abroad. This year, May 1-6, the College was privileged to have world-renowned professor of Biblical prophecy - Dr Paul Lee Tan - to lecture on “The Interpretation of Prophecy.” Dr Tan’s many charts and illustrations made prophecy easy to understand and remember. He emphasised the need to interpret the Bible literally, comparing Scripture with Scripture, that the Bible has only one meaning, for God means what He says and says what He means. More than 150 attended the course, some even taking leave from work just to make it for the classes.”[1]

Curiously, in the statement of faith, the college declared: “The Statement of Faith of the College shall be in accordance with that system commonly called “the Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Confession of Faith as set forth by the historic Westminster Assembly together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.”

While the Westminster Confession of Faith, as well as the Larger Catechism, repudiates the dispensational, eschatological schema of multiple resurrections and judgments, Dr Jeffrey Khoo has apparently found Dr Paul Lee Tan’s eschatology enlightening. It is a well-known fact that Dr Tan is not only a dispensational premillennialist, but also a pre-tribulationist who rejects Reformed ecclesiology. He is the author of two highly popular eschatological tomes, Encyclopedia of 15,000 illustrations and The Interpretation of Prophecy.

The pre-tribulationist sees a salient distinction between national, ethnic Israel and the Church. And it is particularly this distinctive ecclesiology that distinguishes both Classical and Progressive Dispensationalism from Reformed theology. Dr Tan, without doubt, taught the pre-tribulational view of dispensational premillennialism to the 150 students present at the Daily Vacation Bible College. According to Dr Khoo, Dr Tan’s dispensationalism was not only the correct eschatology, but with his “many charts and illustrations,” Dr Tan had “made prophecy easy to understand and remember.” Dr Khoo can now be assured that his students will have a firm grasp of pre-tribulationism, in addition to the distinctives of Dispensationalism.

“The College was privileged to have [the] world-renowned professor of Biblical prophecy” to expound on an eschatological system which includes at least three resurrections and three separate judgments. Unfortunately, dispensational premillennialism contradicts the eschatology laid out in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Belgic Confession.

I am, therefore, absolutely perplexed as to how Dr Khoo will justify the claim that FEBC’s teachings “shall be in accordance with that system commonly called “the Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Confession of Faith as set forth by the historic Westminster Assembly together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Erupting Thoughts: Kiasu or Kiasi?

I looked into the mirror this morning, and a conglomeration of tiny red dot stared back at me. Yes. It must be those imminent eruptions, also known as acne vulgaris. Somehow, I believe that this has nothing to do with the headlines in Channel News Asia today. It reads: “Indonesia villagers stay despite volcano threat.”[1]

Mount Merapi, a 2,914-metre peak, might erupt anytime soon. The eruption occurs when the new lava dome that has been rapidly coalescing at its peak collapses. Despite the noisome fumes and spewing gas, some villagers apparently have taken a liking of staying behind. “The clouds, known by locals as ‘shaggy goats’, consist of volcanic gases, ash and dust, and reach temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius.”

No, the villagers are not trying to get a close-up shot of those ‘shaggy goats’ with their cameras. Neither have they acquired a sudden, psychotic affection for ghee, nor developed a petrifying fear that has paralyzed their survival instinct.

Despite efforts of evacuation by the local authorities, “many locals were intent on staying to look after their possessions,” according to Channel News Asia. “The [villagers] promised [the authorities] that they will come down voluntarily once they see signs of a major eruption.” But the “signs of a major eruption” are already present.

These villagers are obviously not agathists; they are not expecting Mount Merapi to swallow what it spewed, or the dome of lava to vaporize instantaneously. The problem for evacuation does not lie in the inefficacy of communication, or the linguistic intricacies of the villagers’ tongue. The difficulty, however, lies with the villagers themselves.

The problem originates from within the heart of 34,000 villagers residing in the immediate danger zone. Although these villagers are considered to be at risk by the local authorities, materialism has a strange way of holding them back. This is the god worshipped without idols. No ziggurat is required to enshrine this invisible, intangible entity. Already this god has recruited a gargantuan mass of followers, and some are willing to forsake life itself to worship Him.

Perhaps some might comment that the possessions the villagers own are very dear to them. Despite the clear and present danger of being baked alive, these folks are braving hot lava to protect cattle and homes. With great élan, they have decided to fortify their abode. For “many young men and their fathers chose to remain behind to watch their cattle and homes.” The villagers’ lives depend upon their livestock.

So, can we argue that the precious lives of these “young men and their fathers” are worth the sacrifice, because the villagers’ livelihood is at stake? The astute observer will discern that this act is not an act of courage. The argument itself is a paralogism, and the root of this irrationality is materialism. It has for its father, ‘greed,’ and ‘insanity’ for its mother. It is a sick mongrel, a product of poverty and human depravity.

Tragically, a man would risk his life for his cattle. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided (Luke 12:20)?”

A missionary to Africa once recounted to me that the biggest problem for evangelism in tribal areas is not poverty, but materialism. Most tribesmen own a dung hut. Sometimes, a few wealthy ones may upgrade their homes to a mud hut. Man, however, is never satisfied with cow dung.

Missionaries bring with them canned food and drinks. So, naturally, the next step up the ladder of luxurious housings is a “tin can” hut. Everybody in the tribe adores an iridescent, “tin can” hut. Some tribesmen even believe that the residents of these exclusive tin huts somehow acquire a nimbus around their forehead. But this is just a myth.

Eventually, as the standard of living and wealth improve within the village, galvanized zinc becomes the most coveted building material. But it was only last week when animal excreta was sun-baked, stockpiled and treasured by all.

Apparently, even tribesmen are not immune from the god of avarice: Materialism. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).”

The god called materialism accepts worship in various forms and liturgies. In fact, Singaporeans have never failed to impress me with their innovations in worshipping It. Their fundamental values in life are often formulated around the worship of It.

From “kiasu” to “kiasi,” there is no lack of adjectives to describe a typical Singaporean. In Singlish, “kiasu” means “to be afraid of losing out to someone else,” and “kiasi” refers to “the fear of dying.” The typical Singaporean is afraid to lose. But one might ask, “Lose what?” While everybody else is clambering for success, no decent Singaporean would want to be left behind. Everybody in Singapore wants to be a millionaire. The average Joe next door desires a larger house, a bigger car, and a fatter wallet. So “more is less”, and “much is not enough” for the regular Singaporean man.

Sometimes, a “kiasu” Singaporean has really nothing to lose materially. But according to a Singaporean’s perspective, not measuring up to the demands of a materialistic society is to lose his “face.” Some believe that the five “Cs” epitomize the Singaporean Dream: Credit card, Condominium, Cash, Car and Career. Since the retired Singaporean is reputed to philander in remote corners of Batam and China with his freshly drawn Central Provident Fund, the sixth “C” will probably represent “Concubine.”

Materialism aside, the mentally sound person will be fearful of death. But “kiasi” means much more than the mere fear of dying. The Singaporean is “kiasi” because when he dies, he get to lose all the possessions which he had spent his entire life acquiring. So ultimately, the fear of death is closely associated with an obsessive impulse to hoard and possess.

Are the villagers “kiasu” or “kiasi”? Probably both. But there is no doubt that the villagers worship the same god as the “kiasu” Singaporean, albeit with a different liturgy. Meanwhile, as we await the eruption of Mount Merapi, I will have to contend with the conglomeration of erupted acne on my face.

And happily, death seems deceptively far away for the “kiasi” Singaporean (Hebrews 9:27).

New Evangelicalism: The Fine Art of Fence Straddling

As the battle between truth and error rages, New Evangelicalism tries to sit on the fence. It seeks to avoid the fury of war, and counsel the Church to rethink its historic faith. The irenic spirit of New Evangelicalism follows a downward path towards greater compromise and blindness. Christians must be wary of this spiritual deception.

New Evangelicalism is not a distinctively defined scheme of dogma or theology. It is neither a denomination nor an organization that can be pinpointed categorically. It is more accurately described as a philosophy of compromise and appeasement. It is a mood of neutralism, a hodgepodge of theological confusion, ecumenical pacification and self-proclaimed “orthodoxy”. It is pervasive, deceptive, dangerous and definitely lethal to the spiritual integrity of the Church. Pervasive, because its philosophy is acceptable and appealing to the carnal, rational human mind; deceptive, because it claims to be faithful to the apostolic faith; and dangerous, because contamination with its false beliefs would result in the demise of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints”(Jude 3).

Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, a father of New Evangelicalism, succinctly described its philosophy in the following words:

“Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many Evangelicals. . . . It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas of life.” (Harold J. Ockenga, in the Foreword to Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book The Battle for the Bible)

The Repudiation of Biblical Separation

One of the basic tenets of New Evangelicalism is the repudiation of ecclesiastical separatism. Rejecting God’s command to separate from apostates, false teachers and those who cooperate with them (2 Cor 6:14-7:1, 2 Thess 3:6-15, Rom 12:1-2, 16:17, Eph 5:11, 1 Thess 5:22, 1 Tim 6:3-5, 2 Tim 2:16-21, Tit 3:10, 2 John 7-11, Jude 3, Rev 18:4), the New Evangelicals prefer to “dialogue” with unbelievers. The bible teaches us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11). Biblical separation is also taught clearly in the second epistle of John, culminating in verses 10 and 11: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Dr Harold Ockenga made the following remark, “The New Evangelicalism has changed its strategy from one of separation to one of infiltration. Instead of static front battles, the new theological war is one of movement. Instead of attack upon error, the New Evangelicals proclaim the great historic doctrines of Christianity ... The strategy of the New Evangelicalism is the positive proclamation of truth in distinction from all errors without delving in personalities which embrace error.”

How can we proclaim the truth “without delving in personalities which embrace error”? Heretics have always been identified throughout church history. The Apostles themselves were quick to name names; Hymenaeus (1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 2:17), Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17-18), Alexander (1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 4:14), Demas (2 Tim 4:10), Diotrephes (3 John 9), Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15) were properly identified and dealt with in the epistles. Paul did not “dialogue” with perpetrators of false doctrines, neither did he infiltrate the churches to promote a theological “movement”. With regard to false teachers, the apostle commanded us to “mark them” and “avoid them” (Rom 16:17).

“Instead of attack upon error”, the New Evangelicals encourage disobedience to the Word of God. In its “ringing call” for the repudiation of separatism, New Evangelicalism has replaced clear biblical teachings with worldly, carnal philosophy. Its strategy of “infiltration” into apostate denominations is in direct opposition to God’s command to "come out from among them, and be ye separate (2 Cor 6:17,18)."

In the guise of “love” and “charity”, they would cooperate with the enemies of God in ecumenical ventures. Returning to the vomit of Romanism and wallowing in the Modernist’s mire, these fraternal compromisers would trade biblical truths for “unity” and “scholarship”.

The Desire for Worldly Recognition

New Evangelicalism is a movement nurtured on intellectual pride. Determined “to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day”, New Evangelicalism urges Christianity to rethink its historic position. It exhorts us to be less rigid, more tolerant and understanding. New Evangelicals view Fundamentalism as rather “unloving”, “narrow”, “unscholarly” and “doctrinaire”. Credentials and respectability have taken precedence. Scholarly recognition is now an essential commodity. In an earnest desire to be recognized by the academic world, the New Evangelicals have gradually accommodated rationalistic, modernistic and humanistic thoughts. Renouncing the militant exposure of doctrinal errors, they prefer to negotiate for a “middle-ground”. New Evangelicals refuse to reprove false teachings and teachers.

“Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the time, the reengagement in the theological debate, the recapture of denominational leadership, and the reexamination of theological problems such as the antiquity of man, the universality of the flood, God's method of creation, and others.” (Harold J. Ockenga, in the Foreword to Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book The Battle for the Bible)

Since when did fundamental doctrines such as the universality of the flood, creation ex nihilo and the inerrancy of the Bible become “theological problems”? Yet in its desire to compromise with “modern scholarship”, New Evangelicalism had concocted a myriad of heresies, for example, theistic evolution and limited inerrancy.

The dogmatic proclamation of biblical doctrines is replaced by a theological compromise, which attempts to tailor God’s truth to the current generation. “In accordance with the need of the time”, New Evangelicals are willing to dilute vital doctrines to make them more palatable to carnal minds. After more than fifty years of “reengagement in the theological debate”, none of the “denominational leadership” has been recaptured. Contrariwise, the irenic spirit has captured the hearts of most denominations. Be aware that “The New Evangelicalism is a theological and moral compromise of the deadliest sort. It is an insidious attack upon the Word of God” (Dr. Charles Woodridge).

Preaching a Social Gospel

The devil knows that blatant error is easy to identify. Therefore, Satan’s perennial strategy is to seek an amalgam of truth and error. The thrice-holy God demands separation from error and unbelief; the father of lies urges us to cooperate and compromise. Our Lord demands that we preach no other gospel (Gal 1:8-9); Satan entices us to add social work to the Gospel of Christ.

New Evangelicalism attempts to combine the scriptural gospel with the social gospel of liberalism. This false social gospel is radically different from what our Lord had commanded us to preach. “First, it tended to emphasize structural reforms--changes in law, government policy, and the formal institutions of society. Second, it was firmly rooted in Protestant liberal theology.” (Eerdman’s Handbook to Christianity in America, p. 319)

Christian charity (James 1:27) must be distinguished from the gospel preached by the apostles (1 Cor 15:1-4). Nowhere in the New Testament do we see the usage of social-political work for the propagation of the gospel. The apostles did not labour for great social-political projects with the heathens. They simply went forth in preaching the gospel, producing disciples who would in turn convert others to Christianity. New Evangelicalism exalts social-political agendas to a place of prominence, sometimes even substituting gospel evangelism itself. This is to ignore the example given by the apostles.

Derived from liberal theology and modernism, the emphasis of the social gospel is on social service and reformation. The apostles were concerned with the salvation of souls, not the eradication of societal ills. New Evangelicalism marries the pure saving gospel with liberal ideologies to produce a false, humanistic message. Things of the spirit and of the flesh are mangled together to produce an unholy alliance; a misbegotten, illegitimate counterfeit. Dr Ockenga’s “summons to social involvement” is a New Evangelical lie which we must reject. God has called us to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16), not a spurious humanistic message that does not save.

Conclusion

Dear Christian soldiers, beware of the New Evangelicalism. It is a satanic lie that seduces us to forsake militancy for the truth and to eventually capitulate to evil. It approaches us with a facade of love and reasonableness, but deny the very Truth that it claims to profess.

Dr. Charles Woodbridge, who was a professor at Fuller Seminary and a member of the National Association of Evangelicals before he rejected New Evangelicalism, warned, “The New Evangelical advocates toleration of error. It is following the downward path of accommodation to error, cooperation with error, contamination by error, and ultimate capitulation to error.”

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Dragon Child

I refer to my previous letter Singapore is a developed country, but where are the social graces? It was published in ST on 12 April 2006.

As one of the Four Dragons in Asia, Singapore is “success” oriented. You can call it the “dragon-power”, or the quintessentially Chinese or Asian “drive.” It is probably more appropriate to described it as an insatiable desire and obsession to hoard, possess, win, acquire and conquer.

The typical Singaporean child is taught at a very tender age that the school’s playground is the killing field. Social Darwinism, some perceive, is the empowering force that drives all Singaporean children to dread defeat, and to hunger for success. Failure would mean, as Opposition MP Chiam See Tong has aptly commented[1], elimination from the killing field. Only the strong survives in this reality of “jaws and claws.”

The streaming, or rather, the systematic elimination and the unnatural selection of allegedly superior, examination-smart kids from the yearly host of primary school students is repeated annually and perennially. Those that are able to mentally retain and regurgitate the yearly syllabus requirements are allowed to progress further in their rite of passage. Perhaps this streaming is performed at a too early age. Consequently, those that are streamlined to survive examination stress may not be the ideal leaders of tomorrow. We would require leaders with more promising qualities than “kiasuism.”

Should we, therefore, blame the parents in Singapore for the emphasis placed upon their child’s academic success? I have a nephew who had been initiated - since he started using the potty to empty his bowels – to read books well beyond his level. His mother would reiterate the importance of reading and studying ad nauseam. Apparently this young lad had taken his mother’s indoctrination quite well. He is now in a gifted class at primary 4. However, I would be horrified to initiate any conversation with him.

Unlike any other child his age, his linguistic milieu consists not of “Power Rangers” and “Ultraman,” but mature, adult themes that are suspiciously sinister. He had acquired the sensitivity of a cactus plant, and the loquaciousness of a feline in heat. Apparently, the only comfort is that, his rendition of Singapore Idol Taufiq’s songs is not performed at the dead of the night. That is because his nocturnal activities would have exhausted him long before midnight. By that I do not mean procreation per se. Mind you, he is only primary four. The educational system would be obliged to furnish him with a list of daily chores so as to facilitate regurgitation. This is known as “homework,” and usually functions to allay the parents’ anxiety. The normal child shouldn’t be playing at home. He must be working, just like his father.

In Singapore, the hoi polloi is inducted into a regime of mass streaming, not only in education, but also at work. Unnatural selection would eradicate the old, the weak, the handicapped, the poor, and those with alternative voices. Unless we acquire the “tunnel vision” of a mole, and the persistence of a rabid dog, it is unlikely for us to reach the top of the social ladder. Worse, we may become prey to stronger carnivores.

The rank and file Singaporean child is taught these realities of life as soon as they can open their eyes. It is, therefore, of little wonder that my nephew was not taught the pleasures of playing with a “Transformer” toy while defecating on his potty. In its place is a thick, 400 pages Harry Potter and the constant mantra chanted by his mother: “You must study hard. You must do us proud. You must top the class.” Because, “you are the son of your mother.”


[1] See http://singaporeelection.blogspot.com/2006/05/sda-chiam-see-tong-slams-pap.html

The Fish Bee Hoon Woman

This particular hawker at Yeo Chuan Huat Food Centre in Tampines has never failed to fascinate me. At the age of probably late forties to early fifties, she would sashay through apparently insurmountable barriers made up of closely packed tables and chairs, shouting, “Lai, Sao. Lai, Sao” – which translates approximately to “Come, it’s hot. Come, it’s hot.”

Undaunted by her senseless chants, customers would continue to chomp on morsels of delicious Singaporean hawker food. Balancing on her fingers are at least three to four bowls of fish noodles. While her militant cry of “Lai, Sao; Lai, Sao” might make some sense to her, it never ceases to remind me of the inherent paradox within her short statement.

Why would we “come” to her, especially when she is carrying a precarious number of bowls of boiling hot fish soup? Obviously she was not beckoning to us to approach her during that vulnerable state. Furthermore, her passion in selling as many bowls of noodles in the shortest amount of time is only rivaled by our gastronomic passion to eat. As the saying goes, “money is never enough,” at least in Singapore. And I’m sure she is getting what she desires.

This comical character might convey some spiritual lessons to the observant customer. Her double entendre “Lai, Sao; Lai, Sao” may reflect the attitude of many Singaporeans. Specifically, do Singaporeans know where they are heading after they have passed on to the other side? Most wouldn’t even care to think about eternity, let alone the other side.

Some have heard of the aphorism “Hell knows no fury like a woman scorned.” But the sad fact is, “Man knows no fury like that of Hell.” It’s real. It’s horrific. And it’s definitely hot. Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? “And in hell [the rich man] lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame (Luke 16:23-24)”

So before we strut along blindly like the rest of the world, let us take a moment to reflect upon the hawker’s statement: “Lai, Sao; Lai, Sao.” Or, “Come, it’s hot. Come, it’s hot.” Knowing that it is hot, do we really bother if we are heading towards that burning abyss?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Neo-Darwinism: Is there a mechanism for macroevolution?

If evolution is true, there must be a viable mechanism for it to occur. Neo-Darwinists alleged that natural selection and random mutations could turn a fish into a philosopher. They claimed that millions of years of accumulated mutations, via natural selection, produced the myriad of living organisms we see today. My objective in this brief treatise is to refute that claim.

The Importance of Defining “Species”

In biology, all living organisms are classified according to a standard naming system known as taxonomy. Taxonomy enables biologists to classify living things into different levels: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. For the purpose of our current discussion, we will accept “species” as the lowest level of the classification system (although we realize that certain species are classified further into sub-species). As an example, humans are classified into the order of Primates, the family of Hominidae, the genus of Homo, and the species of sapiens. Therefore, we are called Homo sapiens.

The Bible teaches that God made all living creatures according to their created “kinds”. Two similar kind of animals can “bring forth” (Genesis 1:24), that is, to reproduce. The Bible does not specify any further what a “kind” of animal is. Although a horse and a donkey are two different species, they can reproduce and generate offsprings. According to the Bible, the horse and donkey belong to the same “kind”.

It is important for us to note that a created “kind” is not the same as “species”. It can be inferred from Scripture that a “kind” is probably at the level of genus or higher. As taxonomy is a man-made system of biological classification, it does not reflect biblical descriptions.

Moreover, the meaning of “species” varies among biologists. A finalized definition of “species” does not exist. The generally accepted definition of species is “a reproductively isolated community occupying a specific niche in nature”. To compound the problem further, the science of taxonomy is based upon arbitrary criteria. The definition of species can change according to the whims and fancies of the academia.

Evolution, Microevolution, and Genetic Variation

Before we can answer the evolutionists, we must recognize their definition of the word “evolution”. The standard biology textbook will try to convince credulous readers that the various species of finches on the Galapagos Islands are evidence for “evolution”. However, the numerous species of finches only demonstrate the process of speciation. It does not prove that humans come from a hairy, arboreal, ape-like creature.

Speciation does occur in nature. A species can gradually “evolve” into another species. In this sense of the word, “evolution” is tenable. But the Neo-Darwinist does not believe “evolution” to mean only speciation, or simply, changes in an existing species. The biblical apologist must remember that for the evolutionist, the word “evolution” has a mélange of radically different meanings.

The first meaning of evolution is “microevolution”. Genetic variation producing a physical change in organisms at or below the species level is known as “microevolution”. Common knowledge tells us that organisms within a species can vary in physical appearances. For example, individuals belonging to the species Homo sapiens have different height and skin color. This is due to minor genetic differences between them. Nevertheless, a Caucasian, a Eurasian and a Chinese are all humans, belonging to the same species called Homo sapiens.

Sometimes variation within the gene pool of a species can result in speciation. In every observed case, that newly “evolved” organism belongs to the same family or genus of the original species. For example, variation in beak shape and size produces different species of finches. Nevertheless, a finch is still a finch. Again, there are various species of rabbits with different coats and colors. Some of these rabbits are not interfertile, but they are obviously rabbits. To derive the hypothesis of molecules-to-man evolution from such observations is unjustifiable. True evolution would require the transformation of an organism beyond the level of order, class and phylum.

Limitations of Genetic Variation and Macroevolution

Genetic variations do occur, but there are limitations to such variations. Mutation and natural selection can result in the recombination of pre-existing genetic information. However, these natural processes do not create new genetic information. It is new genetic information that is required to produce a new kind of animal.

What evolutionists are trying desperately to defend is “macroevolution”, the second meaning to the word “evolution”. Macroevolution is the change of one kind of animal into another kind. In practice, this usually implies changes above the genus and family level. For example, evolutionists believe that some theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds. In fact, paleontologists consider birds as specialized archosaurs. For macroevolution to occur, there must be sequential, cumulative addition of new and beneficial genetic information through mutations. But mutations cannot add any new information to the genetic code.

Neo-Darwinists regard macroevolution as simply the accumulation of micro-evolutionary changes. Despite the lack of empirical evidence, Neo-Darwinists believe that a bacterium can change into a ballerina. The justification of macroevolution from observed micro-evolutionary changes is presumptuous at best.

Information Theory: The Achilles’ Heel of Neo-Darwinism

The key to extirpating the theory of Neo-Darwinism is the theory of information. When we write a letter to a friend, or make a phone call, we put our thoughts into writing and phonated words. The information contained is transmitted through paper, ink, and telecommunication equipment. The elusive entity called information is obviously not the paper, ink or telephone wirings.

Information is immaterial, yet it requires matter for its transmission. This is true whether the message is in Turkish, Tamil or Tagalog. The medium on which information travels can change, without the information having to change. Our voices compress air molecules in sound waves. Electrons travel along telephone wirings. No matter what medium is used, the medium itself is not the information.

This ethereal substance called information is the key to understanding what delineates life from non-living matter. It is the Achilles’ heel of all naturalistic explanations of life, which say that life is nothing more than matter obeying the physical laws of nature. The organization of inorganic matter into life necessitates vast amount of information. The human body requires an immense amount of instructions for the building of various organs. That information is contained within microscopic molecules called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Each human DNA molecule is made up of 3 billion subunits called nucleotides. These nucleotides can be likened to letters of the alphabet. The nucleotides are subsequently arranged into messages called genes. Each gene contains meaningful instructions for life, such as the blueprint for the human eye.

In the absence of certain enzymes, the DNA molecule cannot replicate itself. It requires complex biochemical machinery for copying and subsequent gene expression. In turn, the array of biochemical pathways involved requires pre-existing genetic information for its production. This logically leads to a chicken-and-egg problem.

The DNA molecule per se is not the message itself. It is simply the carrier of the intended message. Unless the letters (nucleotides) of DNA are arranged in a specific order, the DNA molecule cannot code for any usable message. The evolutionist cannot explain the origin of information by the random arrangement of biological molecules.

Dr Werner Gitt, a specialist in information theory, has studied the phenomenon of information in great detail. He notes that information is a feature of all living things, and that information never arises without an intelligent source. Dr Gitt believes that the laws about information are also the best evidence for creation, as the DNA of all living things contain information to reproduce life. Non-living matter in nature has no such code. Therefore, the information to produce life is not available to them.

“There can be no code and no information without an intelligent source of this information”, he says. “As the theory of evolution has no ultimate aim, it does not explain the purposeful details which we observe in living systems.”

In his book , biophysicist and information theorist Dr Lee Spetner points out that mutations never add information, but only reduce it. This includes even the rare helpful mutations. He also points out that natural selection is insufficient to accumulate slight genetic advantages. It would be too weak to overcome the effects of chance; mutants would generally be eliminated in the natural world.

Since the origin of information requires intelligence, and mutation is unable to increase genetic information, the theory of Neo-Darwinism is fatally flawed. It is decidedly impossible to create new genetic information via random mutation and natural selection. Consequently, no feasible mechanism for macroevolution exists. The demise of Neo-Darwinism is inevitable. Let no man reject the truth of the Bible for some fallible, man-made theory. It is time for man to repent of their pride, and give glory to our Creator God.

Glossary

Archosaurs: Archosaurs (meaning “ruling lizard”) were reptiles that dominated the Mesozoic Era. They included the crocodilians, pterosaurs, thecodonts, dinosaurs and allegedly, birds.

Enzymes: Complex proteins that are produced by living cells and catalyze specific biochemical reactions at body temperatures.

Mutation: Changes in the molecular nature of DNA. Mutations may or may not result in measurable changes in an organism’s outward appearance or functioning.

Natural selection: The driving force behind change in organisms. Only the organisms best suited for the environment and for competition for mates will reproduce, leaving their genetic material to persist.

Neo-Darwinism: The belief that all plants and animals are descended from a common ancestor through natural selection and mutations.

Taxonomy: The science of systematic classification of animals and plants according to their presumed relationship. Organisms are classified into their respective Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

Theropod: Theropods were fast moving, bipedal carnivores (meat-eaters) with grasping hands and clawed digits. Theropods lived from the mid-Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous period (on the evolutionary time-scale). Theropod means “beast-footed”. The term theropod was first used in 1881.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wanted are Faithful Men


“The poor condition of the churches today may be traced straight to their leaders. When, as sometimes happens; the members of a local church rise up and turn their pastor out for preaching the truth, they are still following a leader. Behind their act is sure to be found a carnal (and often well-to-do) deacon or elder who usurps the right to determine who the pastor shall be and what he shall say twice each Sunday. In such cases the pastor is unable to lead the flock. He merely works for the leader; a pitiful situation indeed.” (The Responsibility of Leadership, Aidan W. Tozer)


The truism of the above quotation cannot be overemphasized. Faithful leadership often brings with it a price; the preacher, not the congregation, usually pays that price. Truth is not welcomed anymore in this generation of itching ears, and to offend the congregation is to beg for a self-imposed economic sanction. The truth of God’s Word must be tailored to suit the taste of its hearers. It is “shared”, not “preached”. One must not be too dogmatic about his convictions, lest his convictions do not please the audience. Provided that the Board of Elders agrees, the speaker may show his face on the pulpit and give a perfunctory smile, as long as his preaching does not grate on the ears. The perfection of God’s Truth must be compromised so as to avoid disunity in the church. It is presumably acceptable to slander God and His Perfect Bible, for they have discovered that God does not take his flock to the secular court of law or threaten them with a lawsuit. Contrariwise, by offering the faithful preacher a session with their personal attorney, some have found it effective in stultifying the testimony of the Lord’s prophet.

The fear of man is the pitfall for every minister of God’s Word. If we cannot preach what God has commissioned us to preach, if we fear the consequences of proclaiming the truth, or if we worry of what may become of our wages, then we may as well be the servants of men, not God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). God has given us a mandate to preach His Word, walk the narrow way, and bear the offence of the cross. For the servant is not greater than his Lord, if they have persecuted Him, they will also persecute you. Nevertheless, “As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:9).

When a minister or elder tries to seek a place for himself, what better way than to be popular and acceptable in the eyes of men? He ceases to be Micaiah, and follows the footsteps of Diotrephes. He tries to meet the “felt needs” of the congregation, and avoids being too harsh on sensitive ears and young minds. The majority opinion of the congregation determines his agenda and weekly sermons. Democracy substitutes theocracy in the church. Christ is dethroned and men are enthroned. The preacher becomes the motivator, the pastor becomes the resident clown, and God’s prophet becomes men’s puppet.

In the name of democracy, unity and Christian charity, some are willing to compromise anything but their own income. They want both the riches of heaven and the riches on earth. They covet the eminence among men, but at the same time, put on an acquiescent front. They desperately try to convey an image of meekness, yet their ad hoc subversive sermonettes betray their character. As lost sheep and goats clutter around the feet of these perfidious gainsayers, generous doses of theological jargons and histrionics are thrown to impress innumerable benighted souls. The eternal state of these souls is not their priority, but the eternal state of their wallets is.

We know that the leaders of churches are not necessarily the pastors. Whosoever controls the crowd, whosoever writes the cheque, and whosoever gives the speech often is the “pastor” even if he is not officially one. These men are adept at garnering the support they need to win the majority vote. Instead of leading the flock where they ought to go, they lead them where the crowd wants to go.

The leadership of God-ordained men is needed to salvage the spiritual state of churches today. We require pastors who serve the Lord and not their own bellies. We want ministers who are not fearful of men, and are willing to preach God’s Word uncompromisingly. We need faithful men to uphold the banner of truth in the midst of spiritual decline and apostasy.

We cannot avoid the influx of falsehood and worldly philosophy when we have “whited sepulchers” heading the congregations. These are indeed beautiful outwardly, alluring men with their carnal wisdom and apparent rationality, “but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

When the Word of God is denied its authority in the congregation, how can we ever expect sinful men with totally depraved hearts to lead the flock to green pastures and still waters? It is of little wonder that some churches find themselves in parched lands and turbulent waters. “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:22)”

The Word of God tells us that, “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Before the judgment of God befalls us, faithful leaders must direct the church to repentance. Now is the acceptable time for a complete separation from doctrinal errors and ecclesiastical ecumenicity. We must cease from all compromise with unbelieving rationalism, and begin transforming the world with the perfect Bible of our perfect God, who is forever blessed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The link is still missing

Ever since the obituary for Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) as the missing link was published, several contenders have surfaced. An alleged missing link was Orrorin tugenensis or the ‘Millennium Man’ because it was discovered near the turn of the Millennium.[1] It was claimed to be 6 million years old. The name “Orrorin” means “original man” in Tugen, and the specific name “tugenensis” refers to the Tugen Hills locality where the fossils were discovered.

The Singapore New Paper’s (7th Sep 2004) article entitled, “No, our ancestors did not move around like chimps” revealed an ignorance of the actual debate and disagreement among anthropologists with regard to the status of Orrorin tugenensis as a “missing-link” for human evolution.[2] The emphatic claim that “human beings’ early ancestors walked upright six million years ago” omits the controversial evidence surrounding this particular “hominid”. This is typical of current evolutionary propaganda, which is concerned with indoctrination rather than education.

Dr Robert Eckhardt, a professor in the Laboratory of Comparative Morphology and Mechanics at Pennsylvania State University, commented that, “We have solid evidence of the earliest upright posture and bipedalism securely dated to six million years.” The “solid evidence” for bipedalism was based upon 13 flimsy fossil fragments comprising broken femurs, jaw bones and several teeth. It was glaringly lacking in cranial material.

The fossil fragments that form Orrorin tugenensis were found in the Tugen Hills of Kenya in the fall of 2000 by Brigitte Senut and Martin Pickford of France, and have been controversial ever since. The New Paper article did not report or mention the opposing opinions of various experts concerning Orrorin, such as those of Professor Leslie Aiello of London University. He disclosed that the claim of this species walking upright was not sustainable and considered it more probable for this species to have been the ancestor of apes rather than man.[3] Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum London also expressed his doubts.

If Orrorin were considered to be a human ancestor, it would predate other candidates by around 2 million years. Senut and Pickford (in an even more drastic scenario) had suggested that all the australopithecines, even those considered by evolutionists to be our direct ancestors, should be relegated to a dead-end side branch in favor of Orrorin. Pickford et al. stated that, “If we are correct, then Australopithecus may represent a side branch in hominid evolution that became extinct without giving rise to Homo . . . .”[4] Yet paleontologist David Begun of the University of Toronto had admitted that scientists had been unable to determine whether Orrorin was, in fact, “on the line to humans, on the line to chimps, a common ancestor to both, or just an extinct side branch.”[5]

There were speculations and accusations that the fossils were collected illegally. These were denied and seemed to be unproven.[6] Controversies regarding the status of Orrorin rage on, but no credible evidence of a creature on its way to becoming human is ever found.

The Leakey Foundation had also expressed its doubts about Orrorin. In its article “Bright Future for the Human Past”, the Foundation stated that although “Orrorin’s discoverers contend that it (Orrorin) represents the earliest bipedal hominid”, “many experts are witholding judgment.” It further explained, “regarding Orrorin’s hominid status, Haile-Selassien (anthropologist) believes that the Kenyan creature’s canine looks too primitive and evidence for bipedalism from the thigh bone is unclear. The Tugen Hills fossils (Orrorin) could just as plausibly represent an exclusive ancestor of apes, or a dead end.”[7]

According to Science, many “doubt that the bones even belonged to a hominid – a loose classification that currently includes the australopithecines and the genus Homo – or even that the species they belonged to walked on two feet.”[8] Lucy’s co-discoverer Donald Johanson, director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University in Tempe, argued that, “The case for a hominid is weak.”[9]

With regard to the claim that Orrorin was bipedal, Science noted that “the femur argument has gotten a lukewarm reception from others. They (experts) point out that many male specimens of Lucy’s species – Australopithecus afarensis – have much larger femoral heads than Lucy’s.”[10] A.L. 288-1 (“Lucy”) is a female of a highly dimorphic species. Since sexual dimorphism decreases gradually through the australopithecine line, it is expected that an earlier ancestor would be even more dimorphic. Therefore, “few researchers agree with Senut’s contention that these larger specimens (Orrorin) belong to another species.”[11]

Science concluded with this remark, “These conflicting views reflect the fact that experts lack a clear definition of a hominid, says Jeffrey Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh. But that only means researchers seeking to penetrate our shadowy origins will be debating Pickford and Senut’s find for years.”[12] It is amazing that after decades of research in paleoanthropology, experts have not arrived at a conclusive definition for “hominids”.

Pickford et al. claimed that the femora showed evidence of bipedal locomotion, if not obligate bipedalism. Much of the deduction came from CT scans of the femur BR1002’00. According to Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Penn State’s Laboratory of Comparative Morphology and Mechanics (LCMM) in the department of kinesiology, the femoral neck “cortex is thickest inferiorly and thinnest superiorly. However, the cortex superiorly, anteriorly and poste­riorly is relatively thicker than it is in humans, but appreciably thinner than it is in African apes.”[13] We must immediately note that the measurement of the width of thin structures such as the cortical shell of the vertebral body or femoral neck with computed tomography (CT) is limited by the spatial resolution of the CT system.[14]

In chimpanzees and gorillas, the thicknesses in the upper and lower parts of the femoral neck are approximately equal. In modern humans, the superior cortex is thinner than the inferior cortex by a ratio of approximately one to four. The ratio in this femur (BR1002’00) is one to three. This ratio was subsequently regarded as evidence for transition to an upright posture and habitual bipedal gait.

Although Orrorin was an alleged biped, “the morphology of its humeral shaft and the curvature of the manual phalanx, reveal that it was probably also capable of climbing trees, as were australopithecines.”[15] It is therefore likely that Orrorin was just an arboreal ape-like creature.

Pickford et al. wrote, “We infer that Orrorin was orthograde, even though we have no evidence of the sacrum or lower back.”[16] As previously noted, there was a painful lack of cranial material. It would consequently be impossible to examine the inner ear structures associated with balance and posture. In addition, the absence of sacral, lumbar and pelvic remains made it difficult for experts to reach a consensus regarding Orrorin’s bipedal ability. With such fragmentary evidence, it is of little wonder that only an inference was made concerning orthograde posture.

Finally, they concluded, “that Orrorin was a habitual biped as shown by a suite of features in the proximal femur: moderate intertrochanteric line associated with a weak femoral tubercle, a large gluteal tuberosity and the osseous structure distal to this tuberosity, a precursor of the linea aspera, a shallow trochanteric fossa, the presence of a groove for the obturator externus, the distribution of cortex in the femoral neck, the sectional shape of the femoral neck, the size of the femoral head relative to shaft diameter, the orientation of femoral head on the neck, and the shallowness of the superior femoral notch.”[17]

It is apparent that much of the data is equivocal and does not provide sufficient support for obligate bipedalism. For example, the presence of an obturator externus groove was presented as support. However, the evidence for bipedalism with the presence or lack of obturator externus grooves is not particularly conclusive. Anatomical features that can be used as unequivocal evidence of bipedalism are not available due to the lack of a distal femur, proximal tibia, and the missing greater trochanter. The attempted interpretation of bipedalism based on current fossil material is premature and unclear.

Neo-Darwinists must contend with the question of whether there is a valid genetic mechanism for the evolution of bipedalism. The difficulties encountered encompass much more than mere morphological considerations. The problems in the evolution of femoral neck cortical thickness would lead us to a few genetic considerations. As noted by Lovejoy et al.,[18] one of the more significant recent advances was the elucidation of differences between bone modeling and its subsequent remodeling (Martin et al. 1998).[19] With regard to modeling, many features of external bone morphology have been shown to be governed by systems of genes that act sequentially during ontogeny.[20] As far as remodeling is concerned, features such as bone density now are known to be subject to genetic regulation.[21] The genetic milieu involved is extremely vast and complicated.

The fundamental problem with Orrorin is the a priori assumption that is it biogenetically possible for a quadruped to evolve into a biped. Neo-Darwinism must account for an increase in genetic information via mutations and natural selection. Information theory has shown that it is impossible to increase genetic information “through a series of small steps of microevolution. Mutations needed for these small steps have never been observed. By far, most observed mutations have been harmful to the organism. … … Not even one mutation has been observed that adds a little information to the genome. That surely shows that there are not the millions upon millions of potential mutations the (Neo-Darwinism) theory demands.”[22]

Bipedalism, a defining trait for humanity, appeared suddenly and coincidentally with the hominids’ first appearance. It was agreed that Orrorin lived in a wooded environment, not open savannas.[23] But the evolutionary model has maintained that bipedalism arose gradually when hominids were forced from a forested environment into an open savanna.[24] It is thus apparent that bipedalism emerged in the absence of an evolutionary driving force. Furthermore, the explosive diversity and sudden emergence of bipedalism that accompanied the hominids’ first appearance in the fossil record serve as hallmarks of creation.[25]

Apes who lived 5 or 6 “million years ago” (on the evolutionist’s time line) so resembled each other that we may never know which begat chimp and which begat man. Complicating things even more, the human family tree is so bushy that “there is not a single line from ape to angel,” says anthropologist Donald Johanson, director of the Institute of Human Origins.[26]

So fierce is the controversy over the identity of the oldest human evolutionary ancestor that Martin Pickford sued famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey for false arrest when he was jailed in Kenya for supposedly collecting fossils without a permit. He even subtitled a book about Leakey’s “Master of Deceit.”[27] The muddle surrounding Orrorin shatters the myth that the theory of human evolution is one of sober, objective science. It is actually a chaotic potpourri of backbiting, contradictions, and failed “missing links” that receive much ballyhoo before eventually being discarded as evolutionary dead ends.

From a paltry pile of questionable bone fragments, it is extremely doubtful that Orrorin can resurrect the hope of a missing link.


Footnotes

1. M. Pickford and B. Senut, Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences 332 (2001):145–152

3. Robin McKie, “First humans learnt to walk while living in trees,” observer.co.uk, November 18, 2001. Available from http://www.versiontech.com/origins/news/news_article.asp?news_id=18; Internet; accessed 09 Dec 2004.

4. M. Pickford et al., “Bipedalism in Orrorin tugenensis revealed by its femora,” C. R. Palevol 1 (2002): 202. Académie des sciences / Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS

5. M. Balter, “Early Hominid Sows Division,” Science Now (22 February 2001).

6. Ibid. This contains references to their denials published in Science and photographs of the fossils.

7. “Bright Future for the Human Past” [article on-line]; available from http://www.leakeyfoundation.org/newsandevents/n3.jsp?id=152; Internet; accessed 09 October 2004.

8. M. Balter, “Paleoanthropology: Scientists Spar Over Claims of Earliest Human Ancestor,” Science 291 (2001): 1460-1461

9. Ibid

10. Ibid

11. Ibid

12. Ibid

13. Pickford, “Bipedalism in Orrorin tugenensis revealed by its femora,” 201.

14. Sven Prevrhal, Julia C. Fox, John A. Shepherd and Harry K. Genant, “Accuracy of CT-based thickness measurement of thin structures: Modeling of limited spatial resolution in all three dimensions,” Medical Physics 30, no. 1 (2003): 1-8

15. Pickford, “Bipedalism in Orrorin tugenensis revealed by its femora,” 202.

16. Ibid

17. Ibid

18. C. O. Lovejoy, R. S. Menidl, J. C. Ohman, K. G. Heiple, and T. D. White, “The Maka femur and its bearing on the antiquity of human walking: Applying contemporary concepts of morphogenesis to the human fossil record,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 119 (2002): 97-133.

19. R. B. Martin, “Toward a unifying theory of bone remodeling,” Bone 26 (1998):1-6.

20. See Carroll S. J. K. Grenier, and S. D. Weatherbee, From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design (Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, 2001).

21. W. G. Beamer, L. R. Donahue, C. J. Rosen, and D. J. Baylink, “Genetic variability of bone density among inbred strains of mice,” Bone 18 (1996): 397-403.

22. Lee Spetner, Not by chance: shattering the modern theory of evolution (New York: The Judaica Press, 1998), 159-160.

23. Patrick Vignaud et al., “Geology and Paleontology of the Upper Miocene Toros-Menalla Hominid Locality, Chad,” Nature 418 (2002): 152-55.

24. Roger Lewin, Principles of Human Evolution (Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, 1998), 219-229.

25. Fazale R. Rana, “The Leap to Two Feet: The Sudden Appearance of Bipedalism,” Facts for Faith 7 (2001): 33-41.

26. S. Begley, “Bickering over Old Bones,” Newsweek [international edition], 23 July 2001.

27. Ibid, 52

The Da Vinci Code Movie and Religious Sensitivities

Date: 10th May 2006

To: Director
Customer & Licensing Services (Films and Publications)
Office for Art Exhibitions and Performances, Audio Materials, Films, Publications, Videos and Video Games:
45 Maxwell Road
URA Centre, East Wing
#07-11/12
Singapore

Dear Sir,

Re: The Da Vinci Code Movie and Religious Sensitivities

In a pluralistic society like Singapore, it is paramount to exercise empathy and understanding for the various religions within its delicate social fabric. The government has been prudent to insist that religious harmony and peace take precedence over the freedom of expression and speech. The mutual respect between religions has even been enforced via the Religious Harmony Act, the Penal Code, and the Sedition Act.

Prime Minister Lee, in a dialogue on 9th February 2006 with 1700 community leaders and students, aptly remarked, “And so in 1989 when Salman Rushdie wrote a book, Satanic Verses, which many Muslims found very objectionable, we banned it. People say, ‘where is freedom of expression?’, we say maintaining harmony, peace, that’s the first requirement.” (How to stay an oasis in a troubled world, Straits Times, Feb 10, 2006)

Singapore had made the right decision in banning religiously sensitive works such as Salmon Rushdie’s fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, as well as the controversial sequence of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. This is appropriate under the Undesirable Publications Act (CAP. 338), which “prohibits the importation, distribution and reproduction of undesirable publications.”

The forthcoming release of the movie directed by Ron Howard on 18th May 2006, The Da Vinci Code, brings to mind certain religious sensitivities that are impossible to ignore. This movie is based on Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction. Brown’s novel contains much blasphemous references to Jesus Christ, the deity worshipped by both Catholics and Christians. Iconoclastic doctrines such as Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene, and subsequently having children, not only detracts from the Christian belief in Christ’s death and resurrection, but also challenges the veracity of Christian scripture.

It is a fact that many Catholic and Christian leaders have found Brown’s novel extremely objectionable and offensive. The massive volumes of literature published against The Da Vinci Code by Christian writers speak for themselves. According to Today’s article - “Da Vinci Code release sparks calls for fatal hunger strikes in India” - it is said that “Christian churches have condemned The Da Vinci Code as an attack on their faith and an aide of Pope Benedict XVI has called it a “perversely anti-Christian novel.”[1]

With regard to religious sensitivities, Brown’s novel may possibly be likened to a christianized version of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Despite being fictional works, they inevitably attack foundational teachings of both faiths. If the Undesirable Publications Act (CAP. 338) “prohibits the importation, distribution and reproduction of undesirable publications,” how does the Media Development Authority justify the “importation, distribution and reproduction” of Dan Brown’s novel - The Da Vinci Code - in Singapore?

Your Web site states that under the Undesirable Publications Act, “examples of undesirable publications include . . . objectionable publications which deal with matters of race or religion in a manner likely to cause ill-will or hostility between different racial or religious groups.”[2] I am sure the Media Development Authority would be sensitive to Christian sentiments, and exercise extreme caution when introducing such incendiary literature into Singapore.

As the movie The Da Vinci Code makes its debut in May 2006, I look forward to an explanation from the Media Development Authority as to why The Satanic Verses was banned in Singapore, while The Da Vinci Code is not only allowed in the bookstores, but also on the big screen.

Yours truly,

Vincent Chia

[1] “Da Vinci Code release sparks calls for fatal hunger strikes in India,” Today 10th May 2006; Internet; accessed 10th May 2006; available from http://www.todayonline.com/articles/117503.asp.
[2] http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/mediani.aspx?sid=135#7; Internet; accessed 10th May 2006.