I Blame God For My Sins

I doubt that you missed the story. It was all over international news about 2 months ago. A young woman was traveling back home from the cinema when she was attacked by five men on a bus. The five men beat up her male companion and proceeded to brutally rape the woman, leaving her for dead. Despite the doctors’ best attempts to save her life, the 23-year-old physiotherapy student later succumbed to the horrific injuries sustained during the assault. It is a sad and horrific story. But not as horrific as what the lawyer representing her attackers said in their defense.

JUSTIFIED RAPE

Manohar Lal Sharma, the lawyer representing three of the accused men, argued that the woman and her male counterpart were fully to blame for what happened to them. His argument was that the victim was not a “respectable lady”. He explained that the victim’s friend and male counterpart, Mr Pandey, was “wholly responsible for the incident as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.” At first glance, such an argument may sound quite unreasonable. But similar arguments are not uncommon in many rape cases, “the woman was dressed provocatively” is a common one. It is true that such cases are too emotive to give any room for reason, and the lawyer’s defense may seem unreasonable at first. But before we pick up the stones and take shots at lawyers, we need to confront another more familiar lawyer. Continue reading I Blame God For My Sins

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How To Change God’s Mind

You’ve probably come across those passages in the Bible where God changes His mind after a prophet intercedes for the Israelites. Maybe you’ve even been part of discussions about how to reconcile such passages with those other passages that explicitly say God does not repent, or change His mind. Two common solutions have been proposed. Most liberals and open theists have settled for a smaller God, a God whose will conforms to ours. They have settled for a God who reacts to new information. A God whose actions are determined by our “free will”. An Arminian God, if you like. But others have sought to preserve God’s sovereignty in the face of this apparent contradiction. And the most common solution to the puzzle can be summarized in these words by R. C. Sproul:

“I think that what we have here is the mystery of providence whereby God ordains not only the ends of things that come to pass but also the means. God sets forth principles in the Bible where he gives threats of judgment to motivate his people to repentance. Sometimes he spells out specifically, “But if you repent, I will not carry out the threat.” He doesn’t always add that qualifier, but it’s there. I think this is one of those instances. It was tacitly understood that God threatens judgment upon these people, but if somebody pleads for them in a priestly way, he will give grace rather than justice. I think that’s at the heart of that mystery.”

While I do believe that this is the right way to handle the mystery, I was thinking about this issue last night and I noticed something that I’d never noticed before. Continue reading How To Change God’s Mind

Jesus Did Not Cast The First Stone

It is a familiar passage. One that almost every Christian has become well acquainted with. A woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus, to serve as bait. The pharisees and the scribes wanted to see if Jesus is going to break the Law of Moses. He seems to have broken too many laws by now. Working (healing) on Sabbath, eating and drinking with sinners… among others. Somehow, he has managed to cleverly get himself out of their entrapment tricks. But this is a big one. To speak against a law that required capital punishment would be outright heresy. There is no way that Jesus was possibly going to get himself out of this one. The law was black and white on adultery. Jesus had to agree with the law on this one:

They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” [John 8:4-11] Continue reading Jesus Did Not Cast The First Stone

The Point of Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh”

thorns_thumb[1]I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon or reading a commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 in which the speaker or writer did not pause to speculate on what Paul’s thorn could have been. Somehow, the nature of this thorn seems important to us than it was to Paul, who chose not to reveal it. It is easy to get lost in a wild goose chase after theories and exegetical gymnastics that will help us uncover this thorn. But today, as I read through yet another reflection on that thorny passage, a thought crossed my mind: Our obsession with Paul’s thorn is a telling indicator of what we fear most about our own sanctification.

Consider these three famous speculations about the nature of Paul’s thorn: Continue reading The Point of Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh”

Dear Love, I Need You

love in action

Here I stand Lord, though I am weak and feeble,

I claim to understand Lord, though I know am fallible,

I want to see You clearly, though my flesh is bent on sin, permanently turned away,

My heart’s in ICU daily, though I claim to have a new heart, am always thirsty for Your way,

Too dazed by Your glory, amazed by your Grace, I confess “Have Your way!”

I seek Your face daily, even as my feet keep leading me to the dungeon,

Sip from Your grace hourly, even though am fit for destruction,

Daily leaving my true self on the shelf of my convictions, Continue reading Dear Love, I Need You

Moses Needs Jesus: On Law, Grace and Truth

You’ve probably never paid much attention to this difference, but I am persuaded that it is a notable one. Many bible teachers who have been accused of promoting moralism and social reform at the expense of the Gospel often tend to use many Old Testament examples to make their cases. On the other hand, those teachers who have been accused of promoting apathy and too much liberalism in the Christian life tend to use many New Testament passages in their sermons. This difference in emphasis could be merely coincidental, but there’s something here that cannot simply be overlooked.

THE LAW JUNKIES

Do your homework, go out and look for sermons from teachers who have been accused of teaching moralism, personal improvement and social change at the expense of the Gospel. Continue reading Moses Needs Jesus: On Law, Grace and Truth

Give Thanks… In Everything?

solagratia-011If you’re like me, you probably find it easier to compartmentalize and categorize your Bible. But there’s a reason why the Bible wasn’t arranged in topics, but as one great narrative. One of the reasons why we like to compartmentalize the Bible is because life seems more manageable that way. Are you feeling lonely? “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Are you weighed down by life’s hustles? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28). Struggling with giving? Perhaps you need a motivator, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Mal 3:10). Continue reading Give Thanks… In Everything?