Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Does Food Get in the Way of Social Cohesion?

After reading the article “Does God get in the way of social cohesion?” in Insight, Straits Times (Saturday 21st October 2006), I felt I have to express my insights with regard to this intricate, and especially sensitive, issue in multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore.

The caption of the article reads, “Singaporeans seem more religious these days. Will it lead to social enclaves as they mix and mingle more and more only with those who share their faith? By Li Xueying and Keith Lin.”

Daniel has voiced his thoughts concerning this article in this post of his. And I do applaud his “no mincing of words” approach. But I intend to be a little more politically correct in this blog of mine, lest I get put behind bars for expressing my thoughts too directly.

Tell me; are there any legal ways of expressing yourself in Singapore other than to write in parables? Unfortunately, I am not good with concocting parables. So, I wrote what I suppose would turn up in a fictional newspaper in Singapore in the near, or perhaps distant, future. And please do excuse me if things don’t turn up the way I have described.

Does Food Get in the Way of Social Cohesion?

Heterophilic Insights, The Straight Times 21st Oct 2016.

The following are quotes from the aforementioned article:

At work, if increasingly devout Gluttons use lunchtime for mastication sessions, when will they find time to sit with those of different interests in the coffee shops?

When a person becomes more gluttonous, he is likely to spend more time on activities at his place of eating. He or she may end up hanging out with gluttons from the same hemisphere when doing non-masticatory activities such as baking and social drinking. This leaves less time to interact with those of other interests.

“The increase in repast ardor,” says Institute of Grub Studies academic Lai Ah Beng, “will lead to weakening social cohesion only if gluttons are aggressively consuming their favourite grub everywhere, competing for tables in coffee shops by deriding each other, and if recipe interpretations are exclusivist, self-righteous and/or extremist.”

And it is this that has the most-revered Mr Yas Man (aka Mr Sycophant) worried. The former Chief Executive Officer of the Gluttons Anonymous of Singapore (GAS) speaks of the rise of what he calls ‘exclusive consumerism’ in Singapore since the 1970s.

“There is this prevailing ‘consumerism’ which calls for consumption of even animals that are close to extinction, and the claim that they have the one true recipe and the only way to cook a particular dish,” says the Yas Man, also a member of the Immediate Relieve of Antagonism (IRA).

“But no one recipe has the monopoly on absolute truth. Each recipe can claim to be the true concoction, but we don’t have the complete recipe, therefore we need to have a dialogue with one another in continuously seeking the full culinary truth.”

Chocoholic leader Brother Milky Belgian, also of the IRA, shares the concern, noting the “growth of fundamentalist sects within our gluttony groups, which are normally quite understanding.”

Says the deputy chef of St Joan of Arc’s Restaurant: “If you have really exclusive ideas about culinary truth, it sometimes can lead to great misunderstanding, that because I belong now to a school of cookery that is true, everyone else that doesn't belong to my restaurant, cafe, coffee shop, whatever, is false . . . that something is wrong with the rest of humanity, something is wrong with the rest of the gluttons of Singapore who do not subscribe to my gastronomic passions.”

“It's very simplistic thinking, but the trouble is that you're dealing with a lot of young people who consume enthusiastically with fervour everything they're given.”

The problem of an exclusivistic interpretation is not confined to Gluttony. Prof A. Sot highlights the presence of some “extremist bibbers who want to minimize contacts with non-bibbers.”

Does God get in the way of social cohesion?

Insight, Straits Times 21st October 2006

The following are quotes from the aforementioned article:

At work, if increasingly devout Christians use lunchtime for prayer sessions, when will they find time to sit with those of different faiths in the coffee shops?

When a person becomes more religious, he is likely to spend more time on activities at his place of worship. He or she may end up hanging out with friends of the same religion when doing non-religious activities such as volunteer work and social activities. This leaves less time to interact with those of other faiths.

“The increase in religious fervour,” says Institute of Policy Studies academic Lai Ah Eng, “will lead to weakening social cohesion only if religions are aggressively competing for members by deriding each other, and if religious interpretations are exclusivist, self-righteous and/or extremist.”

And it is this that has the Reverend Yap Kim Hao worried. The former Methodist bishop of Singapore speaks of the rise of what he calls 'evangelical Christianity' in Singapore since the 1970s.

“There is the prevailing conservative theology which calls for conversion of people of other faiths and the claim that they have the one true faith and the only way to salvation,” says the Rev Yap, a member of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).

“But no one religion has the monopoly on absolute truth. Each religion can claim to be the true faith, but we don't have the complete understanding, therefore we need to have a dialogue with one another in continuously seeking the full truth.”

Catholic leader Brother Michael Broughton, also of the IRO, shares the concern, noting the “growth of fundamentalist sects within our religions, which are normally quite understanding.”

Says the deputy principal of St Joseph's Institution: “If you have really exclusive ideas about truth, it sometimes can lead to great misunderstanding, that because I belong now to a school of thought that is true, everyone else that doesn't belong to my denomination, church, temple, whatever, is false...that something is wrong with the rest of humanity, something is wrong with the rest of the citizens of Singapore who do not subscribe to my religious belief.”

“It's very simplistic thinking, but the trouble is that you're dealing with a lot of young people who embrace enthusiastically with fervour everything they're taught.”

The problem of an exclusivistic interpretation is not confined to Christianity. Prof Alatas highlights the presence of some “extremist Muslim Singaporeans who want to minimise contacts with non-Muslims.”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Reformed Lawsuits? An Update.

Are Lawsuits Amongst Believers In Vogue?

After reading about Mr Lim Seng Hoo and his lawsuit against the pastors of Calvary (Pandan) Bible Presbyterian Church in Singapore, it is distressing to peruse yet another article concerning the well-known Ligonier’s Ministries, and their defamation suit against a Mr Frank Vance. By the way, it’s Brandon (from Simply Christian) who alerted me to this issue.

Quoting from the post in Ministry Watchman:

“I find it incredible that the Reformation Study Bible, which R.C. Sproul is the General Editor for, clearly condemns the practice of Christians suing Christians, because of the disgrace that it brings upon the church, and how it ruins the church’s testimony for the Lord Jesus.

In the commentary for 1 Corinthians 6:7 the Reformation Study Bible says:

“Nevertheless, if the Corinthians understood the serious implications of all the improprieties in their church, and if they appreciated the qualities that should characterize believers (cf. 12:4-7), they would much sooner bear injustice than bring disgrace upon the Christian community by publicly exposing their misdeeds in the civil courts.’”

Frank Vance, the defendant, writes:

“RC Sproul’s good pastor friend John MacArthur certainly seems to understand why Christians shouldn’t sue Christians. In his Study Bible John MacAurthur says:

6:1 Dare. Suing another believer in a secular law court is a daring act of disobedience because of its implications related to all sin — the displeasure of God: a matter against another….

6:4 …the basic meaning is clear; when Christians have earthly quarrels and disputes among themselves, it is inconceivable that they would turn to those least qualified (unbelievers) to resolve the matter.

6:5,6 Shame. Such conduct as suing a fellow believer is not only a sinful shame, but a complete failure to act obediently and righteously. Christians who take fellow Christians to court suffer moral defeat and spiritual loss even before the case is heard, and they become subject to divine chastening.

6:7 why…not…accept wrong? …Christians have no right to insist on legal recourse in a public court. It is far better to trust God’s sovereign purpose in trouble and lose financially, than to be disobedient and suffer spiritually.

One of the reasons that we as Christians shouldn’t “dare to go to law before the unrighteous” is because it’s a lot like disrobing in front of strangers, or as others have put it, “it’s like airing our dirty laundry for the whole world to see.’”

This is all so shameful for the Church of Christ. I do wonder who is having the last laugh.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nothing personal, really.

I have a couple of questions for myself, and perhaps someone out there can help me with answering them.

Background

I was reading a post by Daniel, when I came across a comment from brother Jenson that might cause a little storm in my brain’s teacup, whatever that might be. Brother Jenson wrote:

“I say this with good-will, but with Biblical separation, one has to do it carefully and graciously. Not all believers have reached a level of maturity to be able to handle criticisms and some will inevitably say ‘that is your interpretation!’ when you confront them with a topic as big as ‘Justification by Faith’.”

Of course, Jenson’s comment must be read within the context of Daniel’s post. At first reading, it seemed that I had a little difficulty understanding the second sentence of Jenson’s comment, especially when he “appeared” to have said that believers may not “have reached a level of maturity” to understand “a topic as big as ‘Justification by Faith.’” Having known Jenson better than this, I am sure this is not what he is trying to insinuate. But again, this post brought certain thoughts to mind.

When does a seeker becomes a true believer of biblical Christianity?

Perhaps I can better frame my thoughts in the form of another question:

Can one be considered a true believer if he believes in any one of the following, and yet refuses to change his mind about it (i.e. repent) at a particular point in time? Let me know what you think.

Using simple terminologies:

Soteriology

1. Salvation is not by faith alone.
2. Salvation is not in Christ alone.
3. Salvation is not by grace alone.

Christology

4. Jesus is fully God, but not man in any sense.
5. Jesus is fully Man, but not God in any sense.
6. Jesus is a kind of god, but he is not exactly like the Father in terms of Godhood.
7. Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead.
8. Jesus didn’t really die. He appeared to have died.

Theology

9. There is one God, but not three Persons.
10. God does not know everything in advance.

Theology of the Word

11. The Bible becomes the Word of God when a believer reads it. But this “Word” or “Truth” defers from believer to believer.
12. The Bible is not inerrant or infallible. In other words, the Bible contains errors here, there, and everywhere.
13. The Bible is not the inspired Word of God. Only the message is inspired.

Eschatology

14. Christ is not coming back.
15. Christ really came back, but only spiritually, invisibly.

Anthropology

16. Man is not fallen. He has the innate ability to perfectly keep the Law of God.
17. Man needs Jesus, but he also needs to help himself. God does not help a man who does not help himself. A man must exercise his ability to believe.
18. There is no such thing as original sin. Man is born sinless.

Kindly take note that some of the aforementioned doctrinal points are actually heresies.

Clarification: I am not saying that such a person is not saved. What I am saying is that, can such a person be considered a true believer, if he holds to any of the aforementioned doctrines. Of course, if such a person refuses to be taught, and persists in believing a heresy, he can truly be named a heretic (Titus 3:10).

Again, none of us know who is an elect and who isn’t. I was from a Romish church, and I did believe in salvation by works. This brings us back to the original question: If a person does not believe in “justification” by faith alone (like myself back then), can he really be considered to have understood the gospel? If not, then is he a true believer in biblical Christianity at that point in time? This is, of course, from Man’s point of view.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Let’s Break That Guilty Silence

Note: I have yet to post further with regard to reasons for the lack of discernment in the Christian church today. But before I burden you with my perspectives, I would like to commend to you the following article by one of my favorite preacher and writer, Aidan Tozer.

In the following article, he decries the spiritual cowardice so inherent within contemporary Evangelicalism, and rightly calls it sin. Therefore, one further reason for the absence of discernment today is not the lack of understanding, but the lack of moral courage to stand up for what is true, and the preoccupation with a shameful, cowardly lust to please man rather than God.


Let’s Break That Guilty Silence
by A. W. Tozer

Taken from Aidan W. Tozer, God Tells the Man Who Cares (Cumbria, UK: OM Publishing, 1994), 176-180.


One of the great saints of the past, in a well-known hymn, calls on his tongue to break its “guilty silence” and praise the Lord.

The logic behind the stanza is that if it is right to praise God it is wrong not to praise Him and for that reason the tongue that is silent is sinful. Dr. R.A. Torrey taught that, since the greatest commandment is to love God, the greatest sin is failure to love Him. Such sins as not praising and not loving are called “sins of omission” because no positive act has been committed. The guilt lies in what is not done and might be designated as passive guilt rather than active. But though passive, it is nonetheless real.

Under the law of Moses a man could incur guilt by keeping still about some evil he knew was present in the camp of the Lord, and in the New Testament James tells us bluntly, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17). Is it not a serious thought that many clean-living, decent persons, against whom no overt act of wrongdoing can be charged, may yet be deeply guilty and inwardly stained with the sin that does not show, the sin of silence and inaction? There are moral situations where it is immoral to say nothing and basely immoral to do nothing.

The Bible has much to say in praise of prudence and circumspection, but it has nothing but condemnation for the coward. It is plainly taught in the New Testament that the soul that is too timid to own Christ before men on earth will be denied before the Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:33). And in the book of the Revelation the fearful are classed with the unbelievers, the murderers, the whoremongers, the sorcerers, the liars, and all are relegated to the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). Obviously moral cowardice is a sin, a grave and deeply injurious sin.

The fear that keeps us quiet when faith and love and loyalty cry out for us to speak is surely evil and must be judged as evil before the bar of eternal justice. The fear that prevents us from acting when the honor of God and the good of mankind call for bold action is unalloyed iniquity. God will not overlook it and, if it is persisted in, He will not forgive it.

The sinfulness of silence and inaction is more than academic; it is sharply practical and may impinge upon the soul of anyone of us at anytime. Let a moral situation shape itself so that righteousness demands speech and action, and theory becomes practical fact instantly. We have but to keep still and sit tight to become guilty of real sin.

A Political Example: Communism

The world situation today is such that sin by silence may be more widespread than at any other time in the history of the world. For the first time in human history a shockingly wicked ideology has been organized into a world conspiracy, shrewd, cruel, inhuman and fanatically determined. Of course, I mean international Communism, the devil’s most cunning and most effective imitation of Christianity to date. It is as if the boiling cauldrons of Gehenna had sprung a leak and the noxious vapors had entered the brains of men and turned then into moral cavemen without any conscience or any sense of common decency. They appear to be possessed and morally demented to a degree known nowhere else on earth. These men, though numerically few, yet constitute a threat to the world so grave, so deadly, that nothing else on earth can be compared to it.

Standing as we do under the shadow of such a mighty evil, how can any informed person be still? How can any member of the non-Communist world be indifferent as he sees every value that differentiates man from the beasts being destroyed and every spiritual quality that makes life worth the living being extinguished? The statesman who refuses to take sides has already taken sides. His tolerance has made him a traitor to his own country and to the human race.

A Spiritual Application

Serious as all this may be, there is something more serious still. It is the failure to take sides and to speak up when the enemy stalks into the very sanctuary and pollutes the holy place. Precious as human values may be, such values as freedom and decency and the dignity of the individual, divine values, are infinitely more precious. As high as is the heaven above the earth so great are the spiritual treasures revealed to us by the inspiration of the Spirit and secured to us by the blood of the everlasting covenant. The wisdom of God contained in the message and practice of the redemptive revelation is above a king’s ransom. “For she is more profitable than silver/ and yields better returns than gold./ She is more precious than rubies;/ nothing you desire can compare with her./ Long life is in her right hand;/ in the left hand are riches and honor./ Her ways are pleasant ways,/ and all her paths are peace” (proverbs 3:14-17).

At this hour in world history the state of religion is such that the church is in grave danger of losing this priceless treasure. Her gold is being turned to copper and her diamonds to glass. The religion of Cain is now in the ascendancy - and marching under the banner of the cross. Even among those who make a great noise about believing the Bible, that Bible has virtually no practical influence left. Fiction, films, fun, frolic, religious entertainment, Hollywood ideals, big business techniques and cheap, worldly philosophies now overrun the sanctuary. The grieved Holy Spirit broods over the chaos but no light breaks forth. “Revivals” come without rousing the hostility of organized sin and pass without raising the moral level of the community or purifying the lives of professing Christians. Why?

Could it be that too many of God’s true children, and especially the preachers, are sinning against God by guilty silence? When those whose eyes are opened by the touch of Christ become vocal and active God may begin to fight again on the side of truth. I for one am waiting to hear the loud voices of the prophets and reformers sounding once more over a sluggish and drowsy church.

They’ll pay a price for their boldness, but the results will be worth it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Reasons for the Absence of Discernment 2


A Compromising Spirit

Another reason for the absence of discernment is the attitude of compromise. This is the spirit of New Evangelicalism. It is the “criticize not”, “judge not”, “let’s be positive” and “just love everyone” philosophy. In contemporary Christianity, the irenic spirit of New Evangelicalism is so pervasive that the term “Evangelical” is almost synonymous with “New Evangelical.”

This philosophy of neutralism and compromise is naturally appealing to the carnal mind. Who would like to “reprove and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:2-5)” others when he can appear to be amiable, obliging, and agreeable? Who would choose to be a pungent, unpopular preacher when he can be the fashionable, positively loving pastor? Deviant doctrines are quietly tolerated in the name of love. All criticisms of questionable doctrines are quickly undermined as negativism and pharisaism. It is of little wonder that the spirit of biblical discernment is despised and even labeled as “narrow-mindedness,” “bigotry,” and “judgmental-ism.”

Let me recount an incident as an illustration. In a church I visited, there was a discussion on the issue of “househusband” during Sunday School. The pastor preached on the topic of God-ordained roles for Man and Woman, and subsequently elucidated the subject of biblical Fatherhood and Motherhood. The discussion group appeared to be fairly agreeable with the pastor’s teachings, which are, of course, according to the Word of God.

However, when the pastor was away to preach to a mission church the following week, another discussion group gathered after Sunday Service to reevaluate what was discussed the previous week during Sunday School. An elder of the church asked, “So, everybody agree with what was taught last week?” What subsequently followed was a torrent of disagreements and repudiation of the biblical views taught by the pastor last week.

Some proposed that it is good for a “well-qualified” woman to work outside the home, and to bring in the bread and butter, especially if the husband is unable to acquire a lucrative salary (for example, if the husband is a road-sweeper or hygiene officer). Others commented that if the husband is doing home-based work (e.g. Web-based work), he can be the “househusband” and take care of the children, while the wife earns extra salary outside the home. After all, why “waste” the wife’s qualification, and allow an incapable husband to earn the meager “few dollars?”

But the Bible is very clear as to what the roles of the husband and wife are. The husband is to be the provider, protector, and spiritual leader of the family. The wife is to submit to the husband’s authority, and to be a “keeper at home (Titus 2:4-5).” The father is never meant to breastfeed the kids, and neither is he endowed with the necessary glands for that purpose. Apparently, pragmatic concerns inundated biblical guidelines, and the opinions of men are elevated above the Word of God.

I was absolutely astounded as to why an apparently “doctrinally sound” church (I would like to refrain from naming this church, or stating its ecclesiastical associations) would succumb to such a compromising spirit and pragmatic philosophy. If church elders could not even figure out what the biblical roles for father and mother are, how can they lead the home, let alone the church? Most likely, the leaders know what these roles are (according to the Bible), but they would rather please men than to glorify God and to uphold His Word.

When a brother-in-Christ spoke up vehemently against these unbiblical views of Fatherhood and Motherhood, he was criticized as being “unloving” and “judgmental.” By associating any form of discernment or criticism with such pejorative terms, the leaders are covertly stifling the testimonies of these faithful brethren.

Also, the leaders hinted that he should not “despise” his weaker brethren who adhere to such alternative views. It was also declared during a discussion group that all views are correct, and that we should not “judge the views held by other brothers and sisters.” A session member even commented that a mature Christian would be able to “accept” and “love” another brethren, including his erroneous views. He insinuated that a mature Christian would not criticize others, let alone “judge” the other brother-in-Christ.

My reply is this, “A mature Christian will seek to please God rather than men, and will endeavor to honor God’s word rather than men’s mere opinions and preferences. A mature Christian will care for his brethren’s spiritual welfare, and will correct him if he is wrong. The failure to correct serious doctrinal errors, especially the failure for elders to do so, is tantamount to spiritual murder!”

In view of such a careless attitude to doctrine and truth, it is of little wonder that churches infiltrated by the irenic spirit of New Evangelicalism will inevitably follow the slippery slope down to greater compromise and spiritual privation.

May the Lord help us in this age of error.

Note: As I am trying to invest my after-work hours to research my project and writings, I have only my lunchtime to write for my blog. So do excuse me if there are any errors in my posts.

Reasons for the Absence of Discernment 1


It appears that spiritual discernment is deficient amongst Christians today, especially within Contemporary Evangelicalism. But what could be the reasons that might account for such a deficiency? Again, why are serious doctrinal errors and multifarious “movements” ensnaring Evangelical Christians? If the Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth, why are Christians so confused with regard to the teachings of the Bible?

Spiritual Immaturity

Peter exhorted the Christian Diaspora to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Likewise, Paul chastised the Corinthian Christians for being spiritual babes. Subsisting only on spiritual milk, they were unable to take solid food. “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Cor 3:2).

Therefore, the first obvious reason for the lack of discernment is spiritual immaturity. This can be the consequence of slothfulness, the unwillingness to study the Bible, a lack of interest in spiritual things, or the inadequacy of good teachers. A spiritual baby will not be able to discern right from wrong, truth from error, or the shepherd from the wolf.

Caught up with the cares and worries of this world, some are unwilling to invest more time for the study of God’s Word, while others are too exhausted after slaving for riches and honor. When the world ceases to be a battleground for the pilgrim, it is transformed into a playground where carnal believers wallow in its lusts, pride and beauty.

Some Christians even claim to glorify God by doing well in examinations, securing a prestigious job in a company, or achieving an impressive post-graduate degree. One wonders how God is glorified by the sacrifice of personal devotional time, the neglect of Bible study, and the desecration of the Lord’s Day by missing church services and fellowship. There is nothing wrong with achieving good results in examinations or acquiring a doctorate per se, but when priorities are confused, these pursuits can easily dominate a person’s life. Precious resources such as time and energy are consequentially invested in areas other than the Lord’s work.

The conscience has an uncanny way of defending selfish desires by camouflaging it in “Christianized” uniforms and garbs. The quest for personal gains is sometimes disguised as “God glorifying” deeds. Nevertheless, when self is placed on the pedestal of worship, the only “god” that is glorified is the god of this world.

When addressing the Greek-speaking Jewish Christians, the author of Hebrews wrote, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat (Hebrews 5:12).”

This rebuke is true for many who (choose to?) remain in spiritual infancy, when they ought to have matured to consume strong meat. “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

The ability of spiritual discernment will not be available to those who choose to remain in spiritual infancy. If they refuse to study the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is unable to use the Bible to transform the mind of the believer (Romans 12:2).

Spiritual maturity does not come via sudden visions, dramatic dreams, exhilarating experiences, electrifying emotions or fanciful magic shows and skits. The Holy Spirit works by applying the written Word. The Bible and the Third Person of the Holy Trinity work in tandem to bring about spiritual growth. No amount of fables, newspaper headlines or “Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul” from charismatic preachers will bring about spiritual revival. The only “revival” observed here is a biological, pheromonal ecstasy or an adrenaline rush to the unthinking brain.

To be continued

Monday, October 02, 2006

So What Is Wrong With Taylor’s Book?

Firstly, I must apologize for using some difficult, and probably, vague quotes from Taylor’s book. But I wouldn’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence by using the obvious and easy ones.

I think all of you know that there is, indeed, something wrong with Taylor’s book. All of us are forced to return to basic Theology 101, and in that sense, I believe most of us benefited from this little exercise.

Jenson actually mentioned John 1; Taylor did spend a chapter discussing John’s prologue and gospel in order to attack Christ’s deity. Wenxian posted a little summary on the doctrine of the Trinity, a doctrine which many Christians do not take time to study. The next time we meet a Jehovah Witness, a Mormon or a Unitarian, let us be prepared to defend the Divinity of Christ, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Daniel mentioned Sabellianism, which comes fairly close to Taylor’s direction of development for his Christology and Theology.

Nevertheless, I believe the most basic lesson for all of us is this: a book can begin with the language of orthodoxy and love (Taylor reiterated the concept of love numerous times), but its content might prove poisonous for the soul.

Finding Taylor’s book in the “Christian” section of the Tampines Regional Library is not the most disappointing event last week. But chancing upon Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion at the top-most shelf of MPH “Christian” section is. And guess whose work Dawkins used to support his atheism? On pages 95ff., he quoted the writings of Bart D. Erhman, the apostate textual critic. By the way, are Dawkins and Bertrand Russell related? They seem to speak the same things.

And again, what is Dawkins book doing on the shelf of the “Christian” section of MPH? Why was it not placed in other “Religion” sections?

Answer:

In the following brief commentary on Taylor’s latest work, I have included several quotes that I did not publish in my previous question.

Let us read what Taylor has to say:

“[The Council of] Nicea seems to have little awareness of Old Testament use of such symbolic terms as Logos (Word), Wisdom, Spirit, etc. All of these biblical terms do not refer to separate divine persons or entities. (p 36)”

To understand terms such as Logos and Spirit as symbolical representations of Yahweh is to undermine the doctrine of the Trinity. Although Christians do not see the Persons of the Godhead as being “separate,” such terms do refer to distinct Persons within the Trinity.

“[The Council of Chalcedon] shows little knowledge of or respect for Scripture’s many literary forms and figures of speech. Where the Old Testament often spoke of God’s nature and activities by means of symbolic terms and personifications, such as Spirit, Wisdom, Word, etc., Chalcedon personalizes (or hypostasizes) these ways of speaking about God’s immanent activity without any critical elaboration of why it feels justified in doing so. The council mostly prefers the abstract metaphysical terms of philosophy to the biblical and historical descriptions of Jesus. (p 40)”

Again, by referring to the terms Logos and Spirit as “symbolical” literary forms or “figures of speech,” Taylor is directly denying the “hypostasizing” (using his language) of Biblical “ways of speaking.” This is a subtle denial of the Trinity as consisting of three Persons (hypostasis or subsistence).

“Earlier Christians would find the saving God in a fleshing of the descending Logos. Today Christians find the same God in the human Jesus, for in him God dwells fully with his transforming love and through his love has made Jesus a perfect image of himself. (p 42)”

This quote is quite blatant in its denial of Christ’s deity. Taylor implies that the divine Logos in the flesh is an “early” Christian concept, which is subsequently (or allegedly) replaced with the notion of a “human Jesus” in whom God’s love dwells.

“In my view, the prologue of John [John 1:1-5] speaks about the concept of God’s Logos, not to identify Jesus as the Logos himself, but dramatically to show why Jesus in the coming gospel is all-sufficient to the spiritual needs of John’s community. Jesus for John is the one in whom God’s Logos dwells. It is the Logos that descended from heaven. The term Logos in the Old Testament is a biblical metaphor for God’s outreaching love. For John it is probably his way of translating the term Wisdom, which is also a biblical figure of speech for God’s love when he exercises it within his creation. (p 70)”

Taylor, once again, seems to deny that Jesus is the divine Logos. According to Taylor, Jesus is “the one in whom God’s Logos dwells,” not the Logos Himself.

“For [the apostle] John salvation is realizing and possessing within oneself unity with God’s selfless love. John’s unique genius is in showing his readers this wonderful truth. His Jesus is not a divine visitor intervening from heaven. He is one of us, our human brother, who with God’s help has accomplished the divine purpose and in that glorious state has realized complete human fulfillment, manifest in his Resurrection from death and glorification in heaven. (pp 70-71)”

Taylor’s Jesus “is not a divine visitor intervening from heaven. He is one of us, our human brother.”

“Certainly if John saw Jesus as a singular divine person, equal in divinity to the Father, he would not have him say in chapter 5 that he “can do nothing on his own, but only what the Father shows him.” Rather, Jesus is loved and taught by the Father. His power derives from the Father. His judging role is given him by the Father. If Jesus seeks people’s submission and faith, it is not because he himself is claiming divinity, but because he is God’s chosen instrument to mediate his saving activity on earth (5:19-24). God is always present in the words and works of his mediators. (p 76)”

Taylor is putting words into the Apostle John’s mouth. He seems to understand that Jesus is not “a singular divine person, equal in divinity to the Father.”

“When Jesus was spoken of as the Son of God, it probably did not at first mean believers saw him as literally divine. More likely it was a way of showing that Jesus was understood to have had a privileged mission from God which he carried out faithfully. Eventually it was used to indicate in Jesus, his words and deeds, people saw a human embodiment of God and his will for them. (p 95)”

Now Jesus is a missionary. He is simply a “human embodiment of God,” not God Himself.

Conclusions:

1. We can safely say that Taylor denies that Jesus is co-substantial with the Father. This would place his Christology at least on the same level as Arius. But I sincerely suspect that his Christology is lower than that of Arius.

2. Taylor also denies Christ’s eternal pre-existence, and in effect, repudiates His divinity. It seems to be quite clear that Taylor does not believe in a Jesus who is 100% God and 100% Man.

3. According to Taylor, Christ is a man, the spiritual leader, teacher and model. He is “the one who shows them the way to salvation. (p 41)” But He is not the way itself (John 14:6).

4. Taylor’s view hints of the ancient heresy called Dynamic Monarchianism or Adoptionism, but again, it is difficult to label a Christology which is in the process of development.