Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bible Presbyterian Church Member Sues His Pastor for Defamation

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:1-11)

Note: I have left the Bible Presbyterian Church due to doctrinal disagreements, and there is no reason why I would side with the pastors of Calvary (Pandan) Bible Presbyterian Church. Nevertheless, it is a good reminder to every Christian that we ought to glorify God in whatever we do.

On 28 August 2006, page 3 of the Straits Times Home section published an article entitled Barred believer sues pastors for defamation. Apparently, due to a doctrinal disagreement which subsequently escalated beyond the Board of Elders of Calvary (Pandan) Bible Presbyerian Church, Mr Lim Seng Hoo has decided to take both Rev (Dr) Quek Suan Yew and Senior Pastor Rev (Dr) S H Tow to court.

It is, without a doubt, a very sad day for Christianity in Singapore. When a brother drags another brother before unbelievers in secular courts of law, the cause of Christ is blasphemed, and the name of our Saviour tarnished. Nevertheless, Lim defends his right to sue his own pastors.

In his online treatise, “The necessity for my legal suit,” Lim writes:

“The Apostle Paul in 1Cor 6:1 says, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?” At the same time, this same Apostle Paul was constrained to resort to the use of his civil rights both vis-à-vis civil (Act 16:37-39, 21:39 and 22:25-28) and religious authorities (Act 23:3, 25:10-12 and 28:17-19, etc) of his day. And in Rom 13:1-6, Paul maintained the need to observe the rules of law in civil society.”

Lim feels that his civil rights ought to be exercised in view of the defamatory remarks delivered by his pastors. As part of his Singaporean civil rights, Lim decides to sue his pastor S. H. Tow, whom he “regarded … as a father figure.” (See Barred believer sues pastors for defamation, ST, August 28 2006) But one wonders how many sons would actually sue his own father.

By giving the example of Paul, Lim attempts to manoeuvre around the passage of 1 Cor. 6:1-11. It appears that “this same Apostle Paul was constrained to resort to the use of his civil rights.” It is true that Scripture does not forbid the Christian from exercising his “civil rights” with regard to charges against him from the civil magistrates and unbelievers. But this has no relevance to the issue being discussed: should a Christian bring another Christian before the secular court of law? This is not a matter of a Christian versus the authorities, or a Christian versus the unbeliever, but a Christian versus another Christian.

In Act 16:37-39, 21:39 and 22:25-28, Paul exercised his legal privileges as a Roman citizen to obtain fair and unbiased treatment, as well as protection, from the Roman authorities. In Acts 23:3, Paul was speaking to Ananias the high priest, one who is not a believer. Acts 25:10-12 describes Paul’s conversation with Festus, who is, once again, an unbeliever. Here, Paul requested to be delivered to Caesar’s jurisdiction as a means of protection from his persecutors, the Jews - who are, of course, not believers. In Acts 28:17-19, Paul explained to the chief of the Jews why he had appealed to Caesar.

From all the examples mentioned by Lim, there is not a single instance whereby he can conclusively demonstrate that the Apostle Paul dragged a fellow Christian to the heathen courts of law.

In his online treatise, “The necessity for my legal suit,” Lim explains his side of the story, “On 3 Jul 05, Dr Khoo distributed 300 copies of an open letter against my “An Evidential Review” to his church, and also emailed his letter to other churches. He later on 10 Jul preached a VPP sermon at Calvary Pandan, which led to my Open Letter on 14 Jul, inviting him to a public academic debate, which many had implored of me, as being the best way to resolve the issue decisively, for the peace of all our churches. On 17 Jul, I hand distributed 60 copies of my open letter to English members (after also hearing that Rev Quek had attacked our Mandarin Pastor, Rev Tang Wai Kay, over the VPP issue). The subsequent conduct of Dr Tow and Rev Quek on 24 Jul was, however one looks at it, clearly disproportionate, vicious and unjustifiable.”

It appeared that Lim had decided to disseminate his views to members of his church apart from Session’s approval. This can easily be misconstrued as a subversive act. Any doctrinal disagreement ought to be settled in private with the church’s Session. It is not in accordance with proper Christian conduct or ecclesiastical procedure to publicly criticize the church’s doctrine without Session’s approval or sanction. It is, indeed, the duty of every church member to strive for peace within the church. This is also part of the member’s covenant with the church, which one has to sign when joining the church as a member.

Even if the Session decides upon a view which contradicts one’s conviction, the member has to acquiesce. The Board of Elders possesses ecclesiastical authority within the church to dictate issues pertaining to doctrine and practice. The pastor has the responsibility and the right to teach the view decided upon by the Board of Elders, and to protect the flock from variant views.

If the member is so convicted in his heart that the doctrine held by the church is heretical or unscriptural, he has every right to resign from church membership. The member is not required to remain in the church, much less initiate or propagate a doctrinal dispute within the church.

A Correct Exegesis?

What is most disturbing is Lim’s exegesis of 1 Cor. 6:1-9. He writes:

“A correct exegesis of 1Cor 6:1-9 would show why Paul himself appealed to his Roman civil rights at times. For a start, Paul did not assume that no redress should be given to the one wronged but rather assumed that the church would provide the redress. Thus he asks in verse 5, “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge his brethren?” However, this prescription of wise judges was rejected by the pastors.”

Firstly, Lim has never shown how Paul had dragged a fellow Christian to the courts of law. The teachings of 1 Cor. 6:1-9 are aptly summarized by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, “Litigation of Christians in Heathen Courts Censured: Its Very Existence Betrays a Wrong Spirit: Better to Bear Wrong Now, and Hereafter the Doers of Wrong Shall Be Shut Out of Heaven.”

Warren Wiersbe elucidates further in his commentary on 1 Cor 6:1-8:

“It was probably the Gentiles (Greeks) in the church who were the guilty parties in this case, for the Greeks were very much wrapped up in courts and law. Each Greek city had its courts and councils, and it was not uncommon for a son to sue his own father! Of course, the basic problem was carnality (3:1–4); when Christians are immature and not growing, they cannot get along with one another. They lack the spiritual discernment to settle and solve personal problems. How tragic it is when a local church is torn asunder by lawsuits among the members! We are living in an era when lawsuits are the “going thing” and a quick way to try to make money. It seems that the purpose of the court is not justice but income. Paul is not condemning courts of law (see Rom. 13), for the government is instituted by God for our good. But matters between believers must not be exposed before unbelievers, and certainly an unsaved judge lacks the spiritual understanding to deal with spiritual matters (2:14–16). By dragging one another to court, the church members at Corinth were ruining the testimony of the church and disgracing the name of the Lord.”

Lim continues to explain why his exercise of “civil rights” is justified in what is allegedly not the “smallest matters”:


“Secondly in verse 1, Paul refers to “a matter” (singular). If it were just a simple matter of my being defrauded personally, once, why not rather accept wrong? And thirdly, verse 2 refers to the smallest matters, or matters of a primarily material nature, which a heavenly viewpoint would regard as having small importance (cp Lk 12:13-14). But here in our case, what if the “wrong” inflicted is to suppress my attempts to rectify failures in the stewardship of the Church finances, in which unfaithfulness is a most terrible thing?”

The Apostle Paul answers Lim’s question in verse 3, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” According to Paul, the “things that pertain to this life” are also referred to as “the smallest matters.” Apparently, the meaning of the phrase “smallest things” is not to be decided upon arbitrarily, but is to be interpreted in context of Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians.

“If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church (v.4).” It is obvious that Paul refers to the “things pertaining to this life,” in view of the eschatological judgment at the end of the age, as “the smallest things.” Lim’s grievances belong to the category of “things pertaining to this life.” As Jamieson, Fausset and Brown had rightly commented, “The weightiest of earthly questions at issue are infinitely small compared with those to be decided on the judgment-day.”

We recall that Lim is bringing a defamation suit against his pastors. But what has a defamation suit to do with church finances? Lim asks, “what if the “wrong” inflicted is to suppress my attempts to rectify failures in the stewardship of the Church finances, in which unfaithfulness is a most terrible thing?”

Again, Weirsbe provides an answer:

“How should Christians settle personal differences? They must first have the right spiritual values. How trivial these personal disputes become when compared to the great eternal matters we will decide in glory! The church is going to judge the world and the angels! This realization makes worldly disputes rather insignificant. Too many Christians have warped values; the things of this world (especially money) are more important to them than the glory and praise of God. Matters between Christians should be settled quietly according to the principles of Matt. 18:15–17 and 1 Cor. 6:5. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement, then they should invite some spiritual believers to meet with them and help decide. If the matter becomes known to the church (or outside the church), the members should appoint a group to examine the matter and give spiritual counsel. Far better that a Christian should lose money than lose his spiritual stature and bring shame to Christ’s name! We can find this same attitude in Matt. 5:38–42. Of course, the Christians in Corinth were so carnal that they lacked spiritual vision and wisdom, and thus their church was split into warring factions. “You are brethren!” Paul cried. “Show love for one another!’”

There is no necessity to sue the pastor for financial discrepancies. Lim writes, “I was finally duty bound to report to the Authorities, who have commenced investigations.” It seems to me that Lim has exercised his civil rights by reporting the monetary discrepancies to the authorities. Why, then, is the defamation suit necessary? Let the authorities do their work.

Lim claimed that he required the civil magistrates’ protection from his pastor’s incessant “verbal attacks.” He laments, “I however can say with the Apostle Paul that I have done nothing against my church or the customs of our Christian faith but am constrained to appeal to the civil courts for protection and not that I had anything to accuse my church of (Act 28:17-19).”

Paul required protection from the Jews who seek to murder him. Likewise, Lim required protection from the pastors who seek to verbally assassinate him. In view of such serious threats to his life, Lim seeks recourse from the authorities. Yes, I would agree that if his pastors wanted his life, he should get protection quickly. Wouldn’t you agree too?

Let us pray that the differences between the pastors and brother Lim will eventually be resolved in a scriptural manner.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Spiritual Discernment 1

Note: In the current series of posts, I am using a revised version of an old article, one that I had written in 2001 for the youths. In this particular post, I would like to introduce the subject of biblical discernment. In the next few posts, I will explain what discernment is not, and I will also address the various reasons for the absence of discernment in the Church today.


Introduction

Christianity today is a confusing hodgepodge of differing opinions and notions. With the plethora of contradictory interpretations of Scripture, how would the believer discern truth from error? This requires spiritual discernment. Discernment can be defined as the spiritual faculty of a born-again believer to delineate scriptural truths from unbiblical beliefs and falsehood. The problem is, spiritual discernment is greatly lacking in Christendom today.

Any attempt to discriminate between truth and error is quickly met with resistance. The zeitgeist of the age demands that we accept all perspectives as constituting Truth. Militancy for the truth is often labeled as “judgmental-ism,” narrow-mindedness, or extremism. But we are commanded to “prove all things (1 Thess 5:21)” and to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim 4:2).”

No teacher of Scripture should be spared from scriptural scrutiny. Not even the Apostle Paul was excused from such biblical examination (Acts 17:10-13). Nevertheless, our ecumenical, New Evangelical brethren had insinuated that we should abandon our spiritual faculty of discernment, reject the practice of separation from false teachers, and begin dialoguing with unbelieving wolves and apostates. And all these are to be done in the name of love.

Should we, then, love the wolves more than sheep? According to some, we are to emulate our “noble”, “loving,” and “accommodating” New Evangelical brethren, who are, of course, noble, loving and accommodating according to their own standard and definition.

The Bible recounts to us that the Christians in Berea were noble because of their diligence in searching the Word of God to verify what the Apostle taught. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke praised the Bereans (Acts 17:11) as being “more noble” than those in Thessalonica. Here, we read that even the Apostle Paul was not spared from scriptural scrutiny. The Bible, therefore, commends the exercise of biblical discernment.

Contrariwise, New Evangelicals seem to suggest that the separation of truth from error is too critical and pharisaical. According to them, we should embrace aberrant doctrines as variant interpretations of Scripture.

The Word of God commands us to judge all doctrines and practices (1 John 4:1, Matt 7:15-16, Romans 16:17-18, 1 Thess 5:21, Isaiah 8:20, 1 Cor 2:15, 10:15, Luke 7:43), and to reprove, reject and separate from all false teachings and teachers (2 Cor 6:17, 2 Tim 3:5, 2 Thess 3:6, Eph 5:11, Romans 12:9, 2 John 10-11).

New Evangelicals, however, reject God’s mandate to separate from errors and false teachers. By dampening the spirit of discernment, contemporary Evangelicalism is becoming more and more accommodating to various falsehoods and ecumenical lies. Apparently, the spiritual faculty of discernment is urgently needed to preserve apostolic doctrines and truths for churches today.

True believers are capable of spiritual discernment

It is taught in Scripture that the Holy Spirit guides born-again Christians into all truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (John 16:13).” What a privilege it is to be taught by God Himself. The Word of God is the very instrument, which the Holy Ghost utilizes to teach believers. While we may learn much from men, we are not entirely dependent upon them. We have the divine Teacher, the Holy Ghost. We will never know the Truth until we are thus taught. No matter how much the education, the knowledge of ancient near eastern literature (e.g. Assyriology), and the amount of time spent in mastering the biblical languages, we will never know the truth unless the Holy Ghost teaches us.

The Bible says, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26).” The Comforter will bring to remembrance all the teachings of Christ our Lord. He will teach each and every born-again believer the truth concerning God’s Word. “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (1 John 2:27 ).”

Again, we read in 1 John 2:20, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”. Good teachers are excellent sources of knowledge, but we must realize that they are not an infallible authority. Mature believers are able to discern truth from error through the diligent study of God’s Word; the Holy Ghost guides them via the Scriptures. In fact, the ability to discern the true gospel from false ones is what sets true believers apart from others.

The present generation of Christians has probably forgotten that it is their responsibility to discern right from wrong, truth from error, and prophets from false teachers. They are so reliant on others to teach them when they should be studying the Word conscientiously for themselves (2 Tim 2:15). They become gullible victims of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) as they are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph 4:14).

The apostle wrote, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:9-14).”

From 1 Cor 2:9-14, it is clear that the Holy Spirit reveals to believers the deep things of God which are hidden from the natural man. God’s Word is foolishness to the unbeliever, because he is spiritually dead (Eph 2:1-9). Indeed, the only way for one to know spiritual truths is through the tutelage of the Holy Ghost. Is it not marvelous that the Author of divine revelation is our Interpreter as well?

The Psalmist prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18). It is, indeed, a grave error to believe that we can comprehend spiritual things with mere natural or carnal understanding. As much as a paint manufacturer is not qualified to teach Art just because he is an expert on paints, a Hebrew and Greek linguist is not qualified to teach God’s Word just because he knows the original languages. The Modernists with their rationalistic theory of higher criticism are extremely qualified according to man’s standards. Nevertheless, to put the Modernist on the pulpit is tantamount to spiritual suicide.

We need to recognize the utter insufficiency of human wisdom, and to humble ourselves to be taught by the Spirit. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise (1 Cor 3:18).” The philosophy and scholarship of this world should never be used as a yardstick to measure God’s Word. Conversely, we must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).”

Much of human wisdom and rationalism have only produced spiritual retrogression and decay. The naturalistic theory of Neo-Darwinism mocks the creation account of Genesis 1 as Jewish myth and superstition. Carnal pragmatism compromises scriptural injunctions for statistics, filthy lucre and “church growth.” This compromise may even impinge upon gospel truths itself. The philosophy of feminism has placed on our pulpit preachers in skirts and petticoats. Fundamental doctrines such as biblical inerrancy are repudiated with the most peculiar exegetical gymnastics. Plain Scriptures are apparently explained away with the “original” Greek and Hebrew. Such are the fruits of better “scholarship” and “higher learning.”

To be continued

Friday, August 18, 2006

1 Thessalonians 5:9 and the Rapture



Some Pretribulationists have argued that since the church is saved from the wrath of God, and given that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God, the church is apparently delivered from this Great Tribulation. Pretribulationists rely heavily upon this argument for their pretribulation rapture theory. On face value, their reasoning seems logical. One of the “proof-text” used in their paralogism is 1 Thessalonians 5:9. This verse says, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).”

Commenting on this verse, Dr Jeffrey Khoo writes:

“The Christian has been spared from the wrath of God to come (cf. Rev 6:17, 11:18, 15:1,16). It is not the Christian’s duty nor destination to face God’s wrath since he has already been saved by the perfect redemptive work of Christ (Rom 5:9). It is important to know that the terms “wrath” and “salvation” here are opposites. The verse is clearly not talking about a both-and, but either-or situation. If you are under wrath, you are not saved, and if you are saved, you are not under wrath (John 3:36). This certainly argues against the posttribulational rapture view.” (Khoo, 1 Thessalonians, 37.)

1 Thessalonians 5:9 contrasts the concept of “wrath” and “salvation.” It is true that God has not appointed Christians to His wrath, but this does not exempt the Christian from the wrath of men, the wrath of the Antichrist, and the wrath of the Devil. Furthermore, the “wrath” mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is clearly eternal wrath, that is, eternal perdition. This is supported by the understanding that 1 Thessalonians 5:9b describes “salvation” from God’s judgment, and not simply salvation from the Great Tribulation. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 contrasts eternal wrath with eternal salvation. Surely Dr Khoo must understand this, for he writes: “It is not the Christian’s duty nor destination to face God’s wrath since he has already been saved by the perfect redemptive work of Christ (Rom 5:9).” This salvation “by the perfect redemptive work of Christ” is eternal salvation, and comprises of election, regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification. Obviously, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is not describing the salvation of Christians from the Great Tribulation. To impose the concept of a pretribulation rapture into the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is eisegesis. Dr Jeffrey Khoo has yet to explain why 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “argues against the posttribulational rapture view.”

If, indeed, the exegete insists that 1 Thessalonians 5:9 describes the deliverance of Christians from the Great Tribulation, he cannot escape the entrapment of even more nagging exegetical problems. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:9b, the reason for the Christian’s deliverance is his salvation in Jesus Christ. It cannot be overemphasized that the tribulation saints are likewise saved by the redemption of Christ. If the Church must be exempted from the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation according to 1 Thessalonians 5:9a, how can we justify the pretribulationist’s belief that tribulation saints are left behind to suffer the wrath of God during the Great Tribulation? Is it not true that tribulation saints are also redeemed by Christ’s atoning death?

Must the Church be raptured in order for her to be protected from the Great Tribulation? The fact is: presence does not necessitate participation. The Church can be on earth throughout the Great Tribulation and yet be divinely protected from God’s wrath. Israel was in Egypt when God sent the ten plagues. God did not rapture Israel prior to sending His wrath against the Egyptians. Israel was divinely protected from God’s wrath during the entire period. But the pretribulationists would have us believe that the pretribulation rapture of the Church is a certainty. The reason, which has been repeated ad nauseam, is that God has not appointed the Christians to wrath.

I believe 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is one of the most misunderstood verses of the Bible, and it is probably due to popular, dispensational eisegesis. The phrase - “For God hath not appointed us to wrath” - has almost become a mantra. Then let the pretribulationist answer why the tribulation saints are left on earth for the “wrath” of God.

Another pertinent question for the Bible Presbyterians would be, “Are not the tribulation saints also part of the Church?”

Friday, August 11, 2006

Rant:The Evolutionist Bible



The Book of (Abio)Genesis - Chapter One

In the beginning was a “burp,” and that “burp” contained nothing, yet it became something. That infinitesimal “burp” grew astronomically, and inflated to a bigger “blob.” Incidentally, that “blob” exploded, and produced hydrogen, and slowly, helium. Incidentally, the hydrogen and helium somehow fused to form higher elements, rocks, stars, galaxies and planets.

Miraculously, the rocks came alive, and magically, water was formed in the now expanded “burp,” also known as the "universe". Boys and girls, this is going to be complicated. If you think a frog turning into a prince is exciting, this one gets even better! This is the magic of SCIENCE.

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, the water married the rock and formed magical “goo.” Remember children, according to textbooks, it rained on the rocks for millions and millions of years. After millions and millions of years (and billions, trillions, zillions, quadrillions and abracadabradrillions of years), the “goo” decided to come alive. Somehow, that blend of exotic “goo” rearranged itself to form the first compact, self-replicating, self-repairing, immensely complicated polynucleotide strand. Accidentally, this strand somehow rearranged itself to provide all the information for life!

From that single polynucleotide strand came all the information for the formation of all the species you see all around you. Remember, boys and girls, all that information came accidentally from some of that “goo.”

Over time, that rock eventually evolved to a naked, hairless, bipedal, intelligent ape.

The ape was intelligent. It worked out a theory which describes its descent from plants, fish, amphibian, reptile and mammals. As indicated by this theory, the ape and the banana share a common ancestor. There was no Creator. Everything was an accident, and so was the ape.

One day, that ape decided that it had legal rights and civil rights. It decided that it had the right to lie, steal, rob, plunder, lust, crave, rape, fornicate, hate, and murder. So every ape did what was right in its own eyes. Remember boys and girls, goo has rights too!

In time, the ape discovered many other theories and called them “science.” These discoveries enabled the ape to destroy the ecosystems, and to construct “towers to heaven” for its own empire – also known as skyscrapers. So the apes were successful, but only the strongest ape survived. The rest of the apes became an economic liability.

All in all, the ape was proud of its many discoveries. But according to the history of science, the greatest discovery was this: The Theory of Evolution. Via this theory of evolution, that intelligent ape intelligently discovered its ancestor - the Rock. This theory also explains why some of these apes worship rocks, plants, trees and four-legged beasts. These rocks, plants, trees and four-legged beasts are, scientifically speaking, the ape’s ancestors. And the worship of these entities is called ancestral worship.

In summary, according to science, the rock became goo, which became you. This is the theory of evolution.

References:

Any textbooks on the following:

Big Bang theory
Inflation theory
Cosmic evolution
Stellar Evolution
Chemical evolution
Abiogenesis
Macroevolution

Anthropology

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Effete Ecclesiasticism: A Brief Note on Deaconesses and Women Preachers


The ordination of women church officers, particularly the appointment of deaconesses, is part of the ecclesiastical tradition of the Bible Presbyterian churches in Singapore. (1) I hereby refer to the church constitution of True Life Bible Presbyterian Church as the exemplar of local Bible Presbyterian practices. (2) It is clear from article 15 - which concerns the election of deaconesses – as well as article 11 that the female deacon is part of the church session. Consequentially, deaconesses in Singapore’s Bible Presbyterian churches have much ecclesiastical authority over the congregation.

These deaconesses, together with the elders and deacons, constitute the church session, which in turn makes administrative, didactic, financial and ecclesiastical decisions for the church. Indeed, the deaconess exercises her voting rights within the session, thus utilizing her authority in making crucial church decisions concerning doctrines, election of future session members, as well as other matters that have a direct or indirect bearing over the congregation. How the employment of such female authority within the session can be squared with Scripture is, unfortunately, beyond my comprehension. Paul says, “Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression (1 Tim. 2:11-14).”

Historically, there is indeed an order of widows (1 Timothy 5:9-14), but this must not be confused with the office of deaconess in contemporary churches. According to Brian Schwertley, “Those who are in favor of women deacons who are in the same office as men deacons reject the idea of an order of widows. Why? Because they want women deacons to have the same office, function, and qualifications as the male diaconate. The deaconesses in the early church had different qualifications (widows over sixty), different functions (primarily to women), different authority (they submitted to the male deacons) and a different office than the male deacons. Modern advocates of women deacons believe that it is perfectly permissible for women who are married, who have dependent children and who are under sixty to be deacons. Yet such thinking clearly contradicts Paul’s command to the younger widows in 1 Timothy 5:11-14.” (3) Thus, deaconesses in Bible Presbyterian churches operate and function at a capacity not permitted by Scripture. In contrast to the order of widows, contemporary deaconesses have true ecclesiastical authority.

It may be argued that, in certain Bible Presbyterian churches of Singapore, the deacons and deaconess do not vote or make certain decisions with the Board of Elders. In this sense, the Board of Elders rules over the diaconate, and the deaconess is therefore exonerated from the charged of usurping the authority of men within the session. This argument, however, is tenuous at best. Schwertley replies, “While it is true that deacons are not pastors or ruling elders and do not vote with the session [only in certain Bible Presbyterian churches in this case], they still have an ecclesiastical authority in the church that is clearly forbidden to women. The deacons [and deaconesses, if any] are the financial officers of the church. The collection of tithes and the management of God’s money is in itself an authoritative function forbidden to women. The collection of tithes and the management of church funds has [sic] always been restricted to men.” (4)

The point is, deaconesses are part of the session according to the Bible Presbyterian Church constitution, and ipso facto, exercise ecclesiastical authority over the men of the congregation. Ironically, the husbands of deaconesses - that is, men within the congregation - have to submit to their wives (deaconesses) within the session, while these deaconesses are supposedly required by Scripture to submit to their husbands at home. “The idea that women are permitted to control the financial affairs of the church when they are not permitted to have the final say regarding the financial affairs of the home is not logical. Is a woman deacon permitted to have authority over her husband’s money in the church, while submitting to his control of the finances in the home? Such a situation is unseemly. The fact that women can be and are the chief financial officers of major corporations is irrelevant. The issue is not one of fitness or ability but of God’s ordained order of authority in the household and in the church.” (5)

There is, however, another controversial role of women within Bible Presbyterian churches. Specifically, women preachers are appointed in numerous Bible Presbyterian mission churches all over Asia. Sometimes, women preachers are even appointed within local Bible Presbyterian congregations. (6) This is clearly an unscriptural practice (1 Cor. 14:34-37, 1 Tim. 2:11-14). (7)

In response to the aforementioned allegations, Rev James Chan, the pastor of Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church (Jurong), wrote: “In the mission field, there are many women missionaries, doing the work which men are unwilling to do. Kelapa Sawit B-P Church was taken care of by Miss Ng Siang Chew. Awana Club and Junior Worship - from the nursery to the young teens - are run by many faithful female teachers because few brothers responded to the need. Let me again quote from Rev [Timothy] Tow in his letter to the Calvary Missions Fellowship (dated April 22, 1994); he wrote, “I take my hat off to women missionaries and preachers. There is no law forbidding them to preach when men are reluctant to venture out. Let the first male to criticize the women speakers be sent to the frontiers to take their place. Amen?” (8)

Such pragmatism is unbecoming of a professedly biblical, fundamentalist institution. Even if the “men are unwilling” to perform the task of preaching, we do not facilitate the gospel work by being disobedient to clear injunctions of Holy Scripture. God’s commandments are clear: women are plainly disallowed to teach men within the congregation. If we truly believe that God is sovereign, even in the salvation of sinners, we must perform the Great Commission according to our Lord’s directives and mandates. We ought to wait patiently for God to raise up suitably qualified servants to do His work. The prophet Samuel proclaims, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22-23).”

To obey the Word of God is better than sacrifice, and rebellion against God’s injunctions is undoubtedly sin. Paul commands the young Corinthian church, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:34-37). Let the Church today acknowledge that what Paul wrote “are the commandments of the Lord.”

I “take my hat off” to pastors who obey God’s Word unconditionally and sacrificially, especially when it is inconvenient to do so. Amen?

End Notes

1. For example, Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church (Tengah) and Tabernacle Bible Presbyterian Church have deaconesses within their sessions.
2. See “Constitution of True Life Bible Presbyterian Church,” The Burning Bush 11, no. 2 (2005): 98-120.
3. Brian Schwertley, A Historical and Biblical Examination of Women Deacons [book on-line]; available from http://www.all-of-grace.org/pub/schwertley/deacon.html; Internet; accessed 10 October 2005. This book provides a historical and theological discussion of the issue of deaconesses.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. For example, Ms Carol Lee, a lecturer in Far Eastern Bible College, was assigned as teacher of a mixed class on 22nd January 2006 for a Bible Presbyterian congregation in Singapore. The lesson was avowedly doctrinal in nature. This is, but, the tip of the iceberg.
7. For an introduction, see David Cloud, Women Preachers [article on-line]; available from http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/womenpreachers.htm; Internet; accessed 10 October 2005.
8. James Chan, “Our Bible Presbyterian Faith and Practice,” The Burning Bush 6, no. 1 (2000): 55.