Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Challenged directly by tutor

Hi all, thought I should share that recently I was directly challenged from my tutor not in a merely dismissive, indifferent manner... but a full frontal assault. A blessing in disguise? A gift of the opportunity to evangelise to him(the tutor)?

Here is a message from him (followed by my reply and one other Christian's reply so far) - please evaluate.


I suggested the group try these 50 Questions. Jacky Lam, kindly and courteously, replied to me, inter alia, that they were 'not new'. Well sorry Jacky (and your friends) since you persist in airing your views on FB you can have no objecton this bull having finally lost patience with the red rag you keep waving in his face!

Of course my objections are not ‘new’ Jacky, to my certain knowledge, I have been arguing them since before you were born (yes I am that old). I think you’ll find that intelligent people have been arguing against the mind numbing stupidity of all religious ‘belief’ at least since the time of Lucretius. Oh yes, and then there is the little matter of The Enlightenment for you to deal with and, in no particular order, Hobbes, Spinoza, David Hume, Marx, John Stuart-Mill, George Elliot, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, George Orwell, Philip Larkin, Freud, Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan, John Updike, A.J Ayre, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan … not to mention Darwin and Einstein, before you even begin to take on Stephen Hawking, astro-physics and the origin of the universe (and our obscure insignificant de-centred place in it) string theory, qantum mechanics, and then Richard Dawkins and the origin of DNA, just for starters!

I think my main objection to all religious ‘believers’ is that they just will not leave people alone. If you want to ‘believe’ and put your ‘faith’ (as you clearly do) in fairy stories that have no basis in historical fact, never mind operating outside every single scientific one, that is your, and in my view, sad destiny. It is the need to proselatise such dangerous clap-trap on FB and elsewhere, particularly to children in HK schools, that I seriously and vehemently object to. (See your blog 'Easter Club'. Children 4 -11. 5 'talks' 9 Bibles! There is no such thing as a 'Christian child' Jacky, only Children who are indoctrinated by adults, however well meaning. If it was political or economic theory or Nazism or Communism in China, you would say it was tantamount to child abuse. Why is Christian 'doctine' any different when instilled into a 'captive' 4-year old?)

It is bad enough in European culture, where there is at least a semblance of a chance that the history of the Christian Church (that is, to all intents and purposes, the Catholic Church and its ‘Orthadox’ and Protestant schisms and off-shoots over the past 2000 years) might be ‘recognized’ and taught as history. In HK many of the local ‘innocents’ are so utterly devoid of any Judeao-Christian, historical anchoring, that they constantly say things to me like ‘No I am not a Catholic I’m a Christian’. Sometimes I want to pat them on the head other times I want to slap some sense into them, depending on my mood. Western missionaries have a lot to answer for in replacing an historically Chinese belief in the supernatural with and equally nonsensical Western one. In the case of the many protestant 'sects' here in HK they ones which are historically, often falsely and dishonestly portrayed, in terms of their origins in Catholic teaching.

Perhaps it is no co-incidence that the Abrahamic ‘God’ of the Judeao-Christian-Isalmic religions are based on ‘revelations’ to semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions ‘long, long ago’. Of course, not everyone is taken in by ‘spiritual experiences’ ‘ghost stories’ and ‘babblings from beyond’. I have met many intelligent ‘believers’ (and one time believers, one of my best friends is a Greek & Roman scholar and former Precentor of Canterbury Cathedral … now an atheist public school Latin teacher) but there is not one in human history remotely qualified to say that they ‘understood’ the mind of God. Yet that is precisely what you (as you describe yourself, a 'fundamentalist Christian bible-basher) and those that profess to be mono-theistic Christians, Jews or Muslims must claim. So however modestly and humbly you think you express your views (and you always do) I can have no respect for them.

I would never, personally, describe myself as an atheist because this puts me on the back-foot in having to give too much away to ‘believers’. As Sam Harris has argued, I do not feel the need to describe myself as an ‘anti-racist’ why would I even begin to feel the need to describe myself as an anti-theist? The idea itself is just too stupid in the first place, tout court. The existence of a deity cannot ever be dis-proved but at least an intelligent theist can opt to be a mere deist (i.e. that the sheer magnificence of the known universe and everything in it strongly implies an ‘ordering force’) as much as I regard that idea with equal contempt. By contrast, those besotted by religion, have to go one further and say, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, ‘that this creative force is also an intervening one: one that cares for our human affairs and is interested in what we eat and with whom we have sexual relations, as well as the outcomes of battles and wars’. For you and others to even begin to assert such nonsense is quite simply to assert more than any human being can or will ever know, and why it makes me so cross when you attempt to do so, particularly to the young and the ignorant, the vulnerable and the infinitely gullible.

Homo-sapiens have been on earth for at least 150,000 years and if you want to ‘believe’ in one of the tens of thousands of shamans offering ‘miracles’ that just happens to have become (through violence, bloodshed, corruption and the naked armed power of Catholic Popes) a popular fairy story for the past 2000 of those 150,000 years, that is your choice. If, despite your expensive education, you feel the need to persist in a belief in the ‘virgin birth', and people rising from the dead, I suppose you are only deluding yourself. But even if you could ‘prove’ it categorically, this still would not come close to ‘proving’ Jesus was the ‘son of god’, would say absolutely nothing about truth and morality let alone an afterlife (ha ha), or ‘last judgement’. It is just proof of the stubbornness with which otherwise intelligent people can cling to opinions without a shred of evidence to support them.

Again, to quote Hitchens directly, my simple position on all religion (and on the rule of law for that matter) is this: ‘ … the original form of tyranny of man over man, and of man over the mind of man (sometimes called totalitarianism) was certainly theocratic, and no overcoming of the absolutist or of the arbitrary is complete unless it includes a clear-eyed rejection of any dictator whose rule is founded on the supernatural … who [in their right mind except fundamentalist religious epigones like you and your PCLL Christian group, apparently!] wishes that there was a permanent, unalterable, celestial despotism that subjected us to continual surveillance and could convict us of thought-crime, and who regarded us as its private property even after we died? How happy we ought to be that there is not a shred of respectable evidence to support such a horrible hypothesis. And how grateful we should be to those of our predecessors who repudiated this utter negation of human freedom'.

He goes on … 'If anything proves that religion is not just man-made but masculine made, it is the incessant repetition of rules and taboos governing the sexual life. The disease is pervasive, from the weird obsession with virginity and the one-way birth canal through which prophets are ‘delivered’ through the horror of menstrual blood all the way to the fascinated disgust with homosexuality [where do you stand on this Jacky? Do you support the legal right for 16-year-olds to bugger each other in private in HK?] and the pretend concern with children (who suffer worse at the hands of the faithful than any other group) [Cathoic Priests in the US, we know the vile suffering you inflicted on thousands of children]. Male and Female genital mutilation; the terrifying of infants with hideous fictions about guilt and hell; the wild prohibition of masturbation [I won’t ask you where you stand on this, though personally I am in favour!]: religion will never be able to live down the shame with which it has stained itself for generations in this regard, any more than it can purge its own guilt for the ruining of formative periods of precious life’ (‘The Portable Atheist’, Christopher Hitchens, 2007).


Hi Keith,

Given the word limit, forgive me for doing it comment after comment after comment... for I have some things to say just in response to this note (and to make sure that people are aware of what I think as well)...

Firstly, your concerns are something which I do consider everytime I speak the gospel to someone. When you lay yourself up for a discussion on the generic topic of God, before moving on to Christianity (to which you often used the historical/academic term 'Judeo-Christian'), I tend more than often to grab such opportunities to share my faith in God. Why? Not because I am a self-righteous despotic person trying to spread my self-righteousness onto others.. (and I think you can see that :) ) rather, I am telling people about this object of faith which - frankly - is pretty amazing in my eyes.

Jacky Lam wrote
at 11:48pm
Now, like Tim says on his facebook profile, I don't want to spoon feed anyone. I am here as a witness that God did indeed change my life and no-one can take that truth away from me -- and everytime I proselytise, I am telling people about this amazing truth which changed my life and that this living truth can change theirs too. Surely, I am not prevented from sharing this good news to others?

Of course, we then come to the T-junction... and you have of course responded negatively to my personal expressions (such as my prayers for you or people in general) to which I am not surprised actually. I used to persecute Christians and laugh at them on some level, without necessarily using intellect to browbeat them, but on a very simple 'common-sensical' level. Yet, now, I don't rely on common sense... I don't think there ever was such thing as an objective common sense, esp. having been blessed with the opportunity to travel to many places and meet many people in my short 22 yrs.

And rather bewildered at my change, and having seen and met at least over a thousand Christians by now being changed so drastically for God, it is almost like I am meeting a bunch of people who have returned from an AA meeting, fully reformed. A fellowship of humble, honest people who - rather than relying on themselves, decide to rely on a completely irrational concept. God. Yes, you have the odd people like Pascal, Augustine, Aquinas, Lane Craig, Piper, Warren, Locke, Hegel who try to bring religion into the secular sphere and make God understandable... and yet, at the same time, they make God even less understandable than ever, mixing in personal opinions and Scriptural views. So whilst I would rely little on historical views on God, the Enlightenment to which I am vaguely familiar, especially with the whole pseudo Christian Socinian debacle which essentially kick-started the Enlightenment, I'm not surprised that the huge anti-God backlash is not as a result of discontent

against God (and even if that is the case, that is not surprising since I believe that we are all born with the tendency to rebel against a higher being), but more so (the Enlightenment anyway) a discontent against self-contradicting Christians. Indeed, such internal struggle will never end, with the huge scandals of all religious people (Muslim extremists; Catholic fathers taking advantage of young children to which the Pope apologised; Inquisition against Catholics and Protestants alike; Jewish persecution... you name it, I'm ashamed of it), any non-Christian will respond in disgust.

Yet, Christianity (and by no means do I represent all Christians in the fellowship at PCLL) is joy in this atheistically defined delusion. Because to us, it IS the truth - it is more true than some aspects of science (I think you were speaking with some authority concerning Homo-sapiens being around for 150,000 years, but I'm positive that among my friends who studied/study evolutionary psychology

/biology for PhD or whatnot, with their more learned and paid time spent to think all day long how to debunk religious nonsense, would still respectfully concur that there are still some disputed truths about evolution and origin of species which, though it still debunks their interpretation of Genesis, is by no means united in its method of debunking). Surely, just because scientists working at Answers-in-Genesis in USA/UK; the marginalised intelligent design scientists (who are not religious by any means), are not recognised in the scientific community, that is not a standard through which we immediately dismiss creationism and certain aspects of Christian miracles as so anomalous that it must be eradicated completely?

Ultimately, there is so much more to be said, and while I can continue on (and of course continually learn more over the course of my life - since I am indeed so young and can only rely on God to impart more wisdom to me over time!) - I feel that this discussion can go on for a little while, subject to changes in our lives which will also alter our worldviews and convictions. And of course, though my comments are long(-winded!), I trust you note is intentionally for all people to see and for all people to comment. I thank you for your honesty, and I hope to match it with mine.

So just in response to two things which you mentioned (which I think you wanted me to respond to specifically): Hitchens' view on on religion (and the rule of law for the matter) - is the despotism that is God. Please don't be offended when I say that... I don't actually understand what kind of God he is referring to. And yet, this is a similar sentiment that the majority of atheists worldwide have about God... repression, despotism, authoritarian, domineering etc etc... and somehow, as a Christian (again, I cannot speak for other religions... since there's a reason I'm not a liberal multi-religionist, but a Christian!), the God described in Scripture is nothing like the despotic theocratic God which you described. If there is such a disagreement... then perhaps we ARE talking past one another, as I've said, like jurisprudential lawyers of the modern day.

Now you can try to compare me with Muslims and Jews who also believe in this Judeo-Christian God, but again... I'm saying that I disagree with them (and I am positive they also disagree with me on who/what God is!). So if there are disagreements as such, then I would urge all non-religious people, when addressing religious issues, would try to address these issues more specifically rather than create a generalised post-modern version of God as is so common in modern culture.

Now.. as Hitchens continues, he says that men (who created God.. a la Nietzsche and Freud) had created this anti-homosexual, sexually repressive social taboo, virginity pre-marriage and so forth. If I may clarify... I know many homosexual Christians, Christians who have sex before marriage, Christians who shout at their mummies and daddies without a shred of regret and etc...yet, at the end of the day, Christ makes them aware of what they now consider as their objective law - God's law...

... yet, they don't say to themselves, "I will force myself to be ascetic, to impose this asceticism on everyone else regardless of their belief". No. I pray (and by no means is this happening yet) that Christians will say, "I'm sorry God, and I am sorry to the person whom I was rude to (or whatever he/she did); I pray for your forgiveness and for the forgiveness of ____... and that I can even have the privilege to know you because of Jesus Christ and what he did when he was a social outcast while he was here on earth". Judgmental Christians are the bane of the faith, and God detests that. But God's law (for us) still stands. So when a homosexual wishes to believe in God, we sensitively tell them that God wishes for all men and women to be heterosexual, not to 'repress' them sexually, but to 'release' them from what God calls a bondage.

And of course, everyone can say its God's word against yours, etc etc... and what is the point of obeying God's law if you aren't even..

a Christian. And YES!! I AGREE! I think that if you're a non-Christian, there is absolutely no reason for a Christian to persecute homosexuals/etc just because they're doing something which we view as sinful in God's eyes. Why? Because they don't even believe in God! Why then would it make any difference if we were to theocratically impose on them this 'law' if they are unwilling to do it, since they feel there is no God (let alone any respect for Him).

Do my answers provide any particular insight? As a Christian, every act of mine is to show one or two different personalities of God as proclaimed in Scripture. The Christian view of non-pre-marital sex, of heterosexuality, of complementarianism of male/female roles etc... are all meant to show a facet of the personality of a holy family, the Trinity, the relationship between what we call the Father who commands the Son, the Son who relies on the Father, the Son and Father who can't do anything without the Spirit.

Now.. the implication therefore is that everyone in the world, whatever we do, is an offshoot of our world-view belief anyway. Your respect for science and certain interpretations of it led you to witness to a type of evolution that denies any possibility for the Trinity. My respect for God led me to witness to a truth that denies everything else. When viewed as such... any attempt to unite society through naive ideas of globalism/tolerance etc is thrown out the window - because disagreements will stay until one comes to either side (so either Christians renounce their faith or non-Christians renounce theirs). Like many of my homosexual friends, they don't wished to be merely tolerated, but to be completely accepted. Can we, as a people, completely accept every else's view? Absolutely not, for we will lose what philosophy entitles individualism (something increasingly popular in the last 50 years).

So, I have come to the point to say that Keith, we have to agree that for now

... we have to agree to disagree. My adamant nature for God (which is by no means closed to all extra-biblical views mind you!) in contrast to your adamant nature against Him (which is also, by no means, closed to all intra-biblical views as I respectfully understand) will stay in opposition.

The last thing I want to say is thank you. We need more honest people with strong convictions like you, rather than people indifferent to these issues. And it is because of these discussions that we can truly air our views, however preliminary or amateur-ish they sound, so that we become stronger in our convictions, or able to humble ourselves to change them. I believe that is one of the reasons why you train the moot teams, so that you don't indoctrinate them but let them come to these decisions themselves. And so I, like other Christians, come to know God by our personal choice. So I trust you can do the same with my views, and of course do the same with self-evaluating yours.

Hilarie Lam wrote
at 12:48am
Keith, u do have a free choice whether or not to believe. Choice, from the very beginning of the world, is given to u by God. Don't u ever wonder why the all-powerful God doesn't convert everyone to Christians? well that's because he doesn't want to, not because he can't.

As Jacky and other brothers and sisters contend, we are not forcing ppl into the christian "gang", rather our spreading of his Word is a response to his love. His love is so amazing that those who have experienced it have no choice but to share with others.

I will not venture on Keith but since u know that we are doing this out of altruism - one cannot but wonder, why is Christianity able to command such response?

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Jacky has decided to do some kind of crazy awesome verse by verse Christ-focused commentary on the whole Bible..

Well done man.. keep at it! =)

God or Money?

A great sermon by the Rev Mark Prentice on money during an interns' conference

Godly Treasure

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

"Shout to the Lord" on American Idol

At your discretion...

Luther Stuff

A compiled folder of three things... his preface to Romans, preface to Galatians and commentary on Galatians... they can be found on but quite difficult to compile & navigate if read straight off the page, so I hope these revised files help...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Ben Stein - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

New movie out..

dunno if it is in the cinemas near you.. although intelligent design isn't nearly as good as biblical creationism, perhaps a stepping stone?

Easter Club

One week, 8-5pm daily
30-35 children aged 4-11
12 leaders aged 20-31
A big castle with working fireplace
A costumed medieval drama
5 talks, 9 bible studies generally based on Hosea

More photos can be seen at

Make me and mould me....

Another great article from Glen....

The Living God is One who forms. He is the Potter, the yozer,[1] who forms humanity,[2] our hearts,[3] our eyes,[4] our spirit,[5] our days,[6] Israel,[7] light,[8] life,[9] indeed the whole world.[10] He does so by degrees. And He does so along a trajectory of death then resurrection.

In the beginning God created (bara) the heavens and the earth. But, as the very next verse describes, this creation began ‘formless and empty’ (tohu wabohu). The Spirit, in brooding power, hovers over a scene associated, throughout the Scriptures, with judgement.[11] Only then, by the power of the Almighty Word is light, life and order brought to the creation. By the Word the formless and empty world is formed (days 1-3) and filled (days 4-6). And this occurs in the context of a judging Word – judging in two senses. First the Word separates – light from darkness, dry land from waters etc. Second the Word evaluates – ‘It was good.’ In this process the world is brought gradually to shalom and ‘it was very good.’

The first creation narrative ends with this purpose clause in the Hebrew:

tAf)[]l; ~yhiÞl{a/ ar”îB’.

Literally this means ‘God created (bara) in order to make (asah).’ The word bara is used almost exclusively of God’s creative activity.[12] In the intensive (piel) stem bara conveys the sense of cutting down, clearing a space.[13] On the other hand asah in the intensive (piel) stem can mean squeeze or caress.[14] This tells us something of the meaning of these verbs (which are here in the normal qal stem). Taken together with the purpose clause contruct we see that God’s bara activity prepares the ground for His asah activity. The LORD begins creation by clearing a space for the purpose of continuing His work upon that creation. He makes and then moulds. Again we see that the LORD forms in stages. First the outline then the filled out reality.

Humanity follows this pattern – first Adam is ‘formed’ from the dust of the earth and the breath of the LORD. (Gen 2:7). Next Eve is formed from the death-like sleep of the man. (Gen 2:21-24). Out of this deep-sleep (tardemah) in which violence is done – his side is pierced – he is raised up to consummation with bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. The formation of humanity was a process and one which journeyed through darkness and pain before something better resulted. It is not too much to say that even in the first two chapters of the bible the process of formation is set before us as one of death and resurrection.

This is the way of the LORD. His formation begins with raw materials but is perfected in stages and through suffering. All things in God’s economy are to be formed through death and resurrection. The people of Israel as the seed of Abraham are filled by Christ, the Seed of Abraham. The law is the form of the covenant and is filled by the gospel events. The land (eretz) from (Dead) Sea to (Mediterranean) Sea is filled by the whole earth (eretz!) from Sea to Sea. Our bodies are seeds to be transformed in death and resurrection to immortal glory (1 Cor 15:44). Ultimately all this happens through the true Adam – the Last, Heavenly Adam. He fills full Adam’s Headship over creation, He fills full the land, the people, the law and through death and resurrection brings it all to glory. Even the Son Himself is made perfect through suffering. (Heb 5:8-9).

In all this we see that Eden is not the point. Adam is not the point. Adamic humanity is not the point. Israel and its worship is not the point. All these things are passed through death and resurrection – from Eden and beyond to the New Jerusalem; from Adam and beyond to the Heavenly Man; through Israel (and its worship) and beyond to the Church of Jesus Christ. And so the Christian knows two incontrovertible facts: First, all things are forward-looking. The best is yet to come – in the process of formation we are optimists. Secondly, the path to better things is through suffering. The road to resurrection blessing always goes through the cross. In the process of formation we will also be realists.

[1] Isaiah 45:7,9; 64:8; Jer 18:6; Zech 12:1; cf. Rom 9:21

[2] Gen 2:7; Isaiah 43:1

[3] Psalm 33:15

[4] Psalm 94:9

[5] Zech 12:1

[6] Psalm 139:16

[7] Isaiah 43:21

[8] Isaiah 45:7

[9] Gen 2:19

[10] Psalm 95:5

[11] ‘Darkness’, ‘waters’, ‘the deep’ are all symbols of judgement. So too ‘formless and empty’, cf Jeremiah 4.

[12] Even the exception of Ezekiel 21:19 may be in order to maintain a parallelism with God’s activity in v30

[13] Josh 17:15,18; Ezek 23:47

[14] Ezek 23:3,8

Friday, 18 April 2008

The Third Day He Rose Again From The Dead

A couple of excerpts from the above chapter of Karl Barth's "Dogmatics in Outline", available at

"The goal is that man is transferred to another status in law. He no longer belongs to that which had a right over him, to that realm of curse, death and hell; he is translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. That means that his position, his condition, his legal status as a sinner is rejected in every form. Man is no longer seriously regarded by God as a sinner. Whatever he may be, whatever there is to be said of him, whatever he has to reproach himself with, God no longer takes him seriously as a sinner. He has died to sin; there on the Cross of Golgotha. He is no longer present for sin. He is acknowledged before God and established as a righteous man, as one who does right before God. As he now stands, he has, of course, his existence in sin and so in its guilt; but he has that behind him. The turn has been achieved, once for all. But we cannot say, 'I have turned away once for all, I have experienced' - no; 'once for all' is Jesus Christ's 'once for all'. But if we believe in Him, then it holds for us. Man is in Christ Jesus, who has died for him, in virtue of His resurrection, God's dear child, who may live by and for the good pleasure of God."

"In the resurrection of Jesus Christ the claim is made, according to the New Testament, that God's victory in man's favour in the person of His Son has already been won. Easter is indeed the great pledge of our hope, but simultaneously this future is already present in the Easter message. It is the proclamation of a victory already won. The war is at an end - even though here and there troops are still shooting, because they have not heard anything yet about the capitulation. The game is won, even though the player can still play a few further moves. Actually he is already mated. The clock has run down, even though the pendulum still swings a few times this way and that. It is in this interim space that we are living: the old is past, behold it has all become new. The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them any more. If you have heard the Easter message, you can no longer run around with a tragic face and lead the humourless existence of a man who has no hope. One thing still holds, and only this one thing is really serious, that Jesus is the Victor. A seriousness that would look back past this, like Lot's wife, is not Christian seriousness. It may be burning behind - and truly it is burning - but we have to look, not at it, but at the other fact, that we are invited and summoned to take seriously the victory of God's glory in this man Jesus and to be joyful in Him. Then we may live in thankfulness and not in fear."

Monday, 14 April 2008

A Sermon for the Day of the Lights

By St. Gregory of Nyssa

O Lord, art the pure and eternal fount of goodness, Who justly turned away from us, and in loving kindness had mercy upon us. You hated, and were reconciled; You cursed, and blessed; You banished us from Paradise, and recalled us; You stripped off the fig-tree leaves, an unseemly covering, and put upon us a costly garment; You opened the prison, and released the condemned; You sprinkled us with clean water, and cleanse us from our filthiness. No longer shall Adam be confounded when called by You, nor hide himself, convicted by his conscience, cowering in the thicket of Paradise. Nor shall the flaming sword encircle Paradise around, and make the entrance inaccessible to those that draw near; but all is turned to joy for us that were the heirs of sin: Paradise, yea, heaven itself may be trodden by man: and the creation, in the world and above the world, that once was at variance with itself, is knit together in friendship: and we men are made to join in the angels' song, offering the worship of their praise to God. For all these things then let us sing to God that hymn of joy, which lips touched by the Spirit long ago sang loudly: "Let my soul be joyful in the Lord: for He has clothed me with a garment of salvation, and has put upon me a robe of gladness: as on a bridegroom He has set a mitre upon me, and as a bride has He adorned me with fair array." And verily the Adorner of the bride is Christ, Who is, and was, and shall be, blessed now and for evermore. Amen.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Prince of Singapore

Now I'm a bit wary of Joseph Prince ministries...
He's come up with 'interesting things' like this:

(copied from

Joseph Prince, (2006), Health and Wholeness through the Holy Communion (Singapore: Media Pte Ltd).

Joseph Prince is the senior pastor of New Creation Church, a megachurch of more than 15,000 members in Singapore. In this book, Prince seeks to correct “misconceptions about the Holy Communion have robbed many believers of an important God-ordained avenue of healing and wholeness.” (backcover)

In his introduction, Prince notes that, “I have discovered that God ordained the Holy Communion not as a ritual to be observed, but as a blessing to be received – the blessing of health and wholeness” (p.6). To expand on that statement, Prince attributes different function to the wine (representing the blood of Christ) and bread. He writes that “the blood is for forgiveness” (p.24-25) and the “bread is for healing.”(p.25-32). Thus the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion “brings the double cure…in other words, Jesus bore not just our sins, but also our bodily weaknesses, sicknesses, and pains.” (p.32)

While most evangelicals will agree that the Holy Communion is a sacrament which is a blessing from God, they may have problem with the fact that partaking of the Holy Communion cures diseases and ill-health. The proof text used by Prince is 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

Prince infers that “He (Paul) was pointing us to one singular reason Christians become weak, sick, and die before their time…their failure to discern the Lord’s body.” (p.13) Apparently because they “did not know why they were partaking” or “they had no idea why they were eating the bread.” (p.13) so they became weak, sick and die. Prince further adds, “since truth is parallel, it means that if we do discern the Lord’s body, we will walk in His health and wholeness.” (p.13-14)

What is the correct way to discern the Lord’s body? Prince offers this answer, “And as you partake of His broken body, know that yours can be whole. When you partake in this spirit of faith, something happens to your body. You become strong, healthy and you will live long” (p.31). He further adds, “so healing like forgiveness, is not a promise. It is the blood-bought right of Christians!” (p.36)

Prince also advises, “But if you are sick, I would recommend that you have Communion daily. I know of people who are so radical that they take it like medicine-three times a day. And you know what? They get radical results.” (p.45)

And also an additional benefit, “The Holy Communion is God’s solution to offset the decay (ageing). And even your friends will see the results. They will ask you, “Hey, why do you seem to look younger and younger? You never seem to age!”” (p.58). Goodbye biotox.

This is one of his later sermons though
sounds a bit better... although the last bit I'm not sure what his implications would be
although his theology seems to be getting deeper
his application always seems to be the life of the individual... what can God do for you...
as opposed to live a life for God

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Been doing stuff on Hosea for Easter club...
Some shorts from Spurgeon

Ephraim is a cake not turned.” — Hosea 7:8

A cake not turned is uncooked on one side; and so Ephraim was, in many respects, untouched by divine grace: though there was some partial obedience, there was very much rebellion left. My soul, I charge thee, see whether this be thy case. Art thou thorough in the things of God? Has grace gone through the very centre of thy being so as to be felt in its divine operations in all thy powers, thy actions, thy words, and thy thoughts? To be sanctified, spirit, soul, and body, should be thine aim and prayer; and although sanctification may not be perfect in thee anywhere in degree, yet it must be universal in its action; there must not be the appearance of holiness in one place and reigning sin in another, else thou, too, wilt be a cake not turned.

A cake not turned is soon burnt on the side nearest the fire, and although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humour. The assumed appearance of superior sanctity frequently accompanies a total absence of all vital godliness. The saint in public is a devil in private. He deals in flour by day and in soot by night. The cake which is burned on one side, is dough on the other.

If it be so with me, O Lord, turn me! Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of Thy love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from Thy heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace; for well I know if I am left like a cake unturned, and am not on both sides the subject of Thy grace, I must be consumed for ever amid everlasting burnings

From Me is thy fruit found.Hosea 14:8

Our fruit is found from our God as to union. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us. O Christian, prize this precious union to Christ; for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness which thou canst hope to know. If thou wert not joined to Jesus Christ, thou wouldst be a barren bough indeed.

Our fruit comes from God as to spiritual providence. When the dew-drops fall from heaven, when the cloud looks down from on high, and is about to distil its liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries of the cluster, each heavenly boon may whisper to the tree and say, “From me is thy fruit found.” The fruit owes much to the root — that is essential to fruitfulness — but it owes very much also to external influences. How much we owe to God’s grace-providence! in which He provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we want. To this we owe our all of usefulness or virtue.

Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener’s sharpedged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree, by thinning the clusters, and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it, Christian, with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee. “My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Since our God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give to Him all the glory of our salvation.

Monday, 7 April 2008

God Men ... Rawrr!

Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda

(copied from 'Presbyterians Today')

The church reformed and always to be reformed

Our misused motto

By Anna Case-Winters

Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda! Even to this day, these ancient words are a rallying cry for Presbyterians and other Reformed Christians. It is a motto that reminds us of who we are and who we intend to be.

But what does this phrase really mean? It is used as a springboard in all kinds of contexts and conversations, sometimes with little sense of how it arose and what it meant among the Reformed folk in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is appropriated in times of disagreement and pressed into the service of our own agendas. It is even sometimes wielded as a weapon against those who differ from us, as if to say, "My position is more reformed than your position!"

This saying should indeed be a watchword for us, but we need a heightened sense of its meaning and the challenge it puts before us. Used without attentiveness to its historical context and import, it loses much of its power to challenge us.

What the Reformers meant
Our Reformed motto, rightly understood, challenges both the conservative and the liberal impulses that characterize our diverse church today. It does not bless either preservation for preservation's sake or change for change's sake.

The cultural assumption of the Reformers' day was that what is older is better. This is strange to our contemporary ears. We do not share this assumption; if anything, we applaud the new and "innovative."

But one of the serious charges church authorities hurled at the Reformers was that they were "innovating." John Calvin responded to this and other charges in his treatise "The Necessity of Reforming the Church." As he put it, "We are accused of rash and impious innovation for having ventured to propose any change at all [in] the former state of the Church." He then goes on to counter that they were not "innovating," but restoring the church to its true nature, purified from the "innovations" that riddled the church through centuries of inattention to Scripture and theological laxity.

The appeal was to a more ancient source, Scripture—"sola scriptura" (Scripture alone). According to church historian David Steinmetz, by submitting themselves to Scripture, the churches of the Reformation movement were purging themselves of these unwanted "innovations" and returning to a more ancient and therefore purer form of church life.

What the motto does not mean

1. Newer is always better.
Using the motto to back up any and all "innovations" would be a misuse of the original intent. In many places where the slogan appears, the phrase is completed with a clarifying addition so that it reads: ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbi dei, which translates, "reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God." Reform, where it is advocated, must find its grounding in Scripture.

2. The church can reform itself.
Another potential misuse of the phrase is lodged in a common mistranslation as "reformed and always reforming." This can mislead us to believe that the church is the agent of its own reformation. God is the agent of reformation. The church is rather the object of God's reforming work.

God's agency and initiative have priority here. The Latin verb is passive, and it is much better translated as "always being reformed" or "always to be reformed." Theologian Harold Nebelsick put it well: "We are the recipients of the activity of the Holy Spirit which reforms the church in accordance with the Word of God." * The church is God's church, a creature of God's Word and Spirit. As we say in our Brief Statement of Faith, "we belong to God." God's Word and Spirit guide the church's forming and reforming.

The Presbyterian Book of Order, in the chapter "The Church and Its Confessions," follows the mistranslation but is on target with its theological interpretation. It says: "The church, in obedience to Jesus Christ, is open to the reform of its standards of doctrine as well as of governance. The church affirms 'Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda,' that is, 'the church reformed, always reforming,' according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit." That last phrase is crucial in clarifying both the direction (and the Director!) of the church's reform.

Why the church needs reforming

1. Because of who we are (sinners)
Part of our openness to being reformed comes out of a conviction about who we are. Reformed folk have been particularly aware of human fallibility and sinfulness.

One of the particular gifts of our Reformed tradition is the notion of "total depravity." It is one of our least understood gifts to the ecumenical community, but all it means is that we recognize that there is no aspect of our lives that is unaffected by our estrangement from God. Even our best endeavors and highest aspirations are prone to sin and error. Forms of faith and life in the church are no exception. This is why Reformed confessions tend to have their own built-in disclaimers. The preface to the Scots Confession invites all readers to offer correction from Scripture if they find the confession to be in error. The Westminster Confession of Faith asserts, "Councils may err and many have erred."

We acknowledge that the church even at its best is a frail and fallible human institution. We know that we "hold these treasures in earthen vessels." Edward Dowey, another church historian, has written that reform is the institutional counterpart of repentance. ** Recognizing how far short we fall from God's intentions, we continually submit all doctrines and structures to be reformed according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit. The church is a frail and fallible pilgrim people, a people on the way, not yet what we shall be. The church, because of who we are, remains open to always being reformed.

2. Because of who God is (a living God)
Openness to being reformed comes not only because of who we are but because of who God is. The God "whom alone we worship and serve" (Brief Statement of Faith) is a living God. God is not bound, either to our tradition or to our particular contemporary context. God's revelation is always a gift, never a given.

As Dowey rightly observed, "Reform has a backward and a forward reference. It leads not only back to the Bible but also forward under the Word." **The Presbyterian Confession of 1967 underscores this teaching: "As God has spoken his word in diverse cultural situations, the church is confident that he will continue to speak through the Scriptures in a changing world and in every form of human culture."

The backward and forward reference of reform invites us on the one hand to attend respectfully to the wisdom and Scriptural interpretations of those who have gone before us with humility. On the other hand, it pushes us to do more than simply reiterate what fathers and mothers in the faith have said. Rather, we must do in our day what they did in theirs, worship and serve the living God. Therefore, while we honor the forms of faith and life that have been bequeathed to us, we honor them best in a spirit of openness to the Word and the Spirit that formed and continue to re-form the church. The church, because of who God is, a living God, remains open to always being reformed.

A gift to the wider church

A vision of the church reformed and always being reformed is one of the gifts the Reformed have to bring to the wider Christian church.

Such a notion may already be out there among our ecumenical partners. A case in point is one of the memorable moments in the first-ever face-to-face conversation between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Roman Catholic Church represented by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in December 2000. Cardinal Cassidy observed, "You have a saying that seems to be at the heart of your self-understanding as a church. What do you mean when you keep referring in your documents to ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda?" It was moving to hear the 12 Presbyterians at the table try to say in their own words what that means to us.

And it became all the more moving when the Roman Catholic representatives called our attention to the papal encyclical, Unitatis Redintegratio. In this they have now said in the strongest way possible that the church is continually in need of reform. This was a high point of the dialogue. The call to be reformed, while it remains our distinctive gift, may no longer be our exclusive possession.

Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda. This motto calls us to something more radical than we have imagined. It challenges both liberal and conservative impulses and the habits and agendas we have lately fallen into. It brings a prophetic critique to our cultural accommodation—either to the past or to the present—and calls us to communal and institutional repentance. It invites us, as people who worship and serve a living God, to be open to being "re-formed" according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit.

* "Ecclesia Reformata Semper Reformanda," Reformed Liturgy and Music, Spring 1984.

** "Always to be Reformed" in Always Being Reformed: The Future of Church Education, John C. Purdy, ed. Geneva Press, 1985.

Anna Case-Winters is a professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Ill.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Essay 2

Well.. 2nd essay is finally done

ever so slightly over the 4000 word limit =)

Essay 2 - The Law

PS: Thx Glen for many a quote!

Friday, 4 April 2008

The problem is that you do not sin enough!

Here are a couple of mind-blowing Luther quotes! If such pastoral advice seem a bit far-fetched for us, could it be that our understanding of God's mighty grace in Christ is too small?

Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some form of merriment. Sometimes it is necessary to drink a little more, play, jest , or even commit some sin in defiance and contempt of the devil in order not to give him an opportunity to make us scrupulous about trifles. We shall be overcome if we worry too much about falling into some sin.
Accordingly, if the devil should say, "Do not drink," you should reply to him, "On this very account, because you forbid it, I shall drink, and what is more, I shall drink a generous amount." Thus one must always do the opposite of that which Satan prohibits. What do you think is my reason for drinking wine undiluted, talking freely, and eating more often if it is not to torment and vex the devil who made up his mind to torment and vex me? Would that I could commit some token sin simply for the sake of mocking the devil, so that he might understand that I acknowledge no sin and am conscious of no sin. When the devil attacks and torments us, we must completely set aside the whole Decalogue. When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: "I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where He is, there I shall be also." (From Luther's letter to Jerome Weller)

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.
We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognised the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner. (From one of Luther's letters to Melancthon)

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Christians suing their teachers?,2933,345274,00.html

Something inherently problematic about Christians suing their teachers? How do you think the Christians will be able to show Christ's love if their teachers lose their job because the Christian wants to be protected by the human rights constitution, rather than God? What happened to good old persecution on Christ's behalf?

1 Peter 1:6-7

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ".

Come on now Christians, lets not be whiny. We should rejoice that we are suffering for Him, and out of our freedom do we obey and suffer to witness to the Messiah who freely became sin for us, the Messiah who did not retaliate, the Messiah who did not, above all, relied on his Father for true protection!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Penal Substitution?

Penal substitution in current evangelical theology is the primary consequence of the cross of Christ

Meaning, Christ takes all our sins and we take all His righteousness,
now what it implies is a 'vicarious atonement' - that is, only the debt of the punishment is transferred

According to Berkhof's Systematics, this implies:

1. The guilty part himself is not in a position to bear the penalty through to the end, so that a righteous relation results
2. the transfer does not encroach upon the rights and privileges of innocent third parties
3. the person enduring the penalty is not himself already indebted to justice
4. the guilty party retains the consciousness of his guilt and of the fact that the substitute is suffering for him

so in summary: "The guilt of sin as a liability to punishment was imputed to Christ, and this could be transferred because it did not enhere in the person of the sinner, but was something objective."

Now is it just me, or is this slightly wonky?

As far as I know "He who had no sin BECAME sin for us"

It is also not as if Christ dies for Adam therefore Adam goes free...
No it is Christ dies, therefore all in Christ live
In fact Scripture says, "We are crucified with Him, we died with Him, we were buried with Him, we were raised with Him, we ascended with Him, we are seated on the right hand of God with Him now"

All the allegories in Scripture, the tree, the ark, the sheep pen, the body etc...
imply a much more personal union with Christ, that we participate in the cross, and now are truly righteous in Him - true participators in the Divine Nature

Everything in the law indicates we are dead to the world, and are alive in Christ, in fact He is our life, and we are hidden in Him

This is no mere substitution, but a full incorporation into the Godhead...
Therefore as Paul we must say...
Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The Desire for Christ

(quoted from "The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ" - Thomas Hooker, 1647)

How does the desire for Christ come?

There are but two affections in the soul for absent good. God infinitely wise having so framed it, and these two are hope and desire. The understanding says, "Such a thing is profitable and comfortable if I had it." The hope is sent out to wait for that goodness. And if it does not comes, then desire is sent out to meet that goodness. Hope stand and waits for it, but desire wanders up and down seeking and inquiring after the Lord Jesus, and goes from coast to coast and from east to west. "Oh, that I could; oh, that I might! And when shall I? And how may I come to the speech of the Lord Christ?" As it was with the spouse in the Song of Solomon (when her beloved was gone, she wandered up and down seeking him, and inquiring of the watchman if they did not see him whom her soul loved), so desire wanders from this thing to that, from this place to that place, and never ceases to seek and see if she can gain notice of Christ. It goes to prayer to see if that will entreat Christ. It goes to the Word to see if that will reveal Christ. It goes to conference to see if it can hear of Christ there. Then it comes to the congregation and to the sacrament, to see if it can hear of any news of Christ and mercy.

The soul thus continues wandering and seeking till at last the Lord Christ comes into the soul. When the soul has hungered and longed for Him, at length the Lord Christ is pleased to show Himself. "Behold the King comes." So the soul says, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away your sins." O poor, broken-hearted sinner, here is your Saviour. He has come down from heaven to speak peace to your soul in the pardon of your sins. You who hunger after Christ, here He is to satisfy you. You who thirst after Christ, here He is to refresh you. To you who have long sought Him, He says, "Here I am, and all my merits are yours." Now when the Lord Jesus is pleased to present Himself to the soul, desire hath met with the Lord.