Church’s Kingdom of God: Crucified King’s Mission

Crown

It is often the case that Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure futuristic dimension tend to focus on the spiritual aspect of winning souls and living a holy life while neglecting the present dimension of physical aspect namely hunger for justice and peace, care for the orphanage, the poor, and the widows, the environment et cetera. The inverse is often the case for Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure present dimension.

A sound understanding is that that holds the present and future dimension, both the physical and spiritual aspect of the kingdom of God just as the early church. Christians holding sound understanding of the kingdom of God understands what W. F. Arndt contended:

What is offered to those that accept Jesus the Savior and King and become citizens in that blessed realm of which He is the Ruler is not wealth, not power, not health, at least not directly. With the forgiveness of sins they have received rest for their souls, a joyful outlook upon the future, the assurance of heavenly bliss, and with this righteousness all other things will be added unto them (Matt 6:33). (Arndt 1950: 20)

They concur both that, as R. T. France argued, the kingdom of God is about God being King and Christians entering it, means accepting and bowing down before God as king (France 2005: n.p.) and, as Wright argued, “[t]he new creation will be put into the care of, the wise, healing stewardship of those who have been ‘renewed according to the image of the creator’”( Wright 2006: 219)

A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians “to live by the life of heaven even while on earth”, as we become a “living word in the world around us”(2006: 187). Living now, as Scot McKnight correctly contended, in light of the future. McKnight expounded,

A Christian is one who follows Jesus by devoting his or her One.Life to the kingdom of God, fired by Jesus’ own imagination, to a life of loving God and loving others, and to a society shaped by justice, especially for those who have been marginalized, to peace, and to a life devoted to acquiring wisdom in the context of a local church. This life can only be discovered by being empowered by God’s Spirit (McKnight 2010: 105).

A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians to become more and more like their King now. To be holy as their King is holy. To forgiving as their King forgave. To love as their King loved. To heal as their king healed. All this is possible through the work of the Holy Spirit only.

It is important for Christians to hold both understanding of the kingdom of God because that understanding will raise a community of Christians who are equally concerned with the present need and are equally and eagerly awaiting and preparing for the future, the day to which all, in heaven, on earth and under earth, will bow down to the King of kings, Jesus who is Christ and Lord over all.

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Arndt, W. F.(1950) ‘The New Testament Teaching on the Kingdom of God’, Concordia Theological Monthly, 21/1:8–29.

Wright, N. T. (2006) Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. HaperCollins e- books.

France, R. T ( 2005) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Vanhoozer, K. J., Bartholomew, C. G., Treier, D. J., & Wright, N. T. (Eds.) .Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK.

McKnight, Scot (2010) One Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Does Karma & Reincarnation Solve The Problem of Evil?

Budha

Does the idea that human beings after the end of their current embodiment (incarnated) are embodied again (re-incarnate) merged with karma, the idea that embodiments are based on the moral quality of the previous embodiments solve the logical problem of evil, namely God and existence of evil are logically inconsistent?

Let us assume that the doctrine of reincarnation that includes another doctrine of karma is true.  Let us assume that Yajnavalkya saying in Brhadaranyaka Upanisad: “A man turns into something good by good action and into something bad by bad action.”(Upan 3.2.13) is correct. Does the moral justice unfolding itself throughout a series of embodiments solve logical problem of evil?

Agreeing with Keith E. Yandell[1], I think it does. A person who believes in reincarnation and karma can solve the problem of evil by pointing out that evil is a result of just punishment of bad actions(karma) from a person’s previous embodiment(s). Actions done in previous embodiment(s) can explain why bad things happen to good people or why infants suffer, et cetera and the verse.

Borrowing Yandell, a reincarnation and karma believer could argue:

For any evil E that occurs to a person in lifetime N, E is the just consequence of wrong actions by that person in lifetime N or in her lifetimes prior to N.(Yandell 1999, 124)

It appears that a person who believes in reincarnation and karma would have, if argued in such manner, succeed to show that God and existence of evil are logically consistent. The problem of evil is thus not a problem for those who believe such Eastern doctrines.

Yandell, Keith E. (1999) Philosophy Of Religion. Routledge: London and NY


[1] Yandell and I do not believe that doctrines of reincarnation and karma are true.

Why Relativism Won’t Do

Socrates Death IIn the dialogue between Socrates and Theaetetus, as recorded by Plato, Theaetetus is presented as holding the opinion of Protagoras. Theaetetus explained to Socrates that “he who knows anything perceives that which he knows, and, as it appears at present, knowledge is nothing else than perception.”( Plat. Theaet. 151e)

Protagoras, according to Socrates, said “that man is ‘the measure of all things, of the existence of the things that are and the non-existence of the things that are not.’”(Theaet. 152a) Socrates interpreted Protagoras to mean that “individual things are for me such as they appear to me, and for you in turn such as they appear to you – you and I being ‘man’”(ibid).  Socrates presented peritropê case against that opinion in 159a-171e.

Some doctrines of relativism hold that what we mean by saying proposition p is true is that p is true for an individual i who believes p. When I assert something like: “it is true that that grass is green”, what I mean is that, “it is true that that grass is green for me”.

Following that chain of reasoning, all truth, we are led to believe, is relative to its believer in a given context. A proposition is not “truth” in and by itself, but only “truth for” its believer.

Now, like Socrates would have said, “come now, let us examine [this] utterance together, and see whether it is a real offspring or a mere wind-egg.” (151e) I think this form of relativism is a mere wind-egg. When I say to you that p is true, I am expected to give reasons why I think p is true or why I think you should also think that p is true. But if I say to you, p is true for me, I would not be surprised if your answer is: “good on ya’ Prayson, that is good for you, so what?”

If we reduce truth to truth for an individual, including a relativist holding such view, then the proposition “all truth are relative” is also true for its believer (i.e. a relativist holding such a view). If that is true, we can simply answer that relativist with, “good on ya’ that is good for you, so what?” If she wishes us to also believe that it is true that truth is relative not only for her but also for us, then she would have peritropê her own case against herself.


Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 12 translated by Harold N. Fowler. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.

Why I Am Not A Christian

Rosary

As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night.  So why I am no longer a Christian?

The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is infallible? I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.

Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide? Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves? If God really loves us why would he create Hell? How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell? Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.

The single argument that shook my belief the most was The Problem Of Evil. If there is an all-powerful God who loves us all, why is there so much evil in the world? What sort of God would stand idly by and ignore the pleas of his people in the Holocaust? How can anyone look at the world history of massacre, genocide, rape and cruelty and still claim that God will help us when we need him? What about those who died from natural causes and famines? Why did God not save them? As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.

If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church? For decades the Catholic Church’s will was law in Ireland and instead of this resulting in God’s paradise, it was the pits of narrow mindedness. We were a petty, sectarian and cold nation. There was no compassion for the poor or love for the downtrodden but rather a rigid and stagnant dogma. Books and ideas that did not agree with the Church were censored, divorce banned and homosexuality made illegal (these are not ancient examples, but rather laws that were not changed until the 1990s). Women who did not conform to the Church’s view were sent to Magdalene Laundries where they were treated horribly and forced to work without pay.

It is the treatment of children that really drove me from the Church. Even if you believe in God, there is no way you can remain a member of the Catholic Church knowing what crimes priests committed. Children were regularly beaten and abused, physically and verbally. God representatives on Earth treated vulnerable children with nothing but vicious cruelty. The abuse and rape of little children was not an isolated case but rather a systematic problem. The hierarchy’s reaction was nothing short of disgraceful as its priority was to cover the abuse up in order to protect its own reputation and to this day has stalled on paying compensation to survivors. What sort of God turns a blind eye to child abuse and is silent when the perpetrators claim to act in his name?

So it was for a mixture of reasons that I grew disillusioned with Christianity. The scandals and general rigid dogma of the Church drove me away from Mass. There was also the fact that Mass in general is incredibly boring where nothing about anything seems to be said. The hypocrisy of a Church filled with gold lecturing the rest of us on the importance of charity or perpetrators of child abuse lecturing us on the morals of sex made me stop listening to the priests. If the Church really cared about the poor it would sell the Vatican and at a stroke help millions. I looked at other religions but they all seemed the same mixture of hypocrisy mixed with superstition. None of them had any answers and instead relied on “faith” (that is to say they preferred if people stopped asking questions and just accepted what they were told.) I gradually realised that my problem was more than just with the Church and that’s how I became an Atheist.

About Guest Contributor

Robert NielsenRobert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies that are not similar to mine.

Robert’s worth reading articles: 10 Questions For Christians &

With All I Am: Against Scorns

Think“Philosophy is hard.” wrote Peter van Inwagen, “Thinking clearly for an extended period is hard. It is easier to pour scorn on those who disagree with you than actually to address their arguments.”(van Inwagen 2006, 61-2)

It is easier to lump opposing views together and dismissed them even without carefully examining the arguments offered. It is also easier to circle the wagons and shout slogans. It is equally easier to discredit an opposing view by attack the character (ad hominem) or the group an individual is associated with (guilt by association) of a person offering it. It is easier to offer ridicules and scorns.

Van Inwagen put it better:

And of all the kinds of scorn that can be poured on someone’s views, moral scorn is the safest and most pleasant (most pleasant to the one doing the pouring). It is the safest kind because, if you want to pour moral scorn on someone’s views, you can be sure that everyone who is predisposed to agree with you will believe that you have made an unanswerable point. And you can be sure that any attempt your opponent in debate makes at an answer will be dismissed by a significant proportion of your audience as a ‘‘rationalization’’ — that great contribution of modern depth psychology to intellectual complacency and laziness. Moral scorn is the most pleasant kind of scorn to deploy against those who disagree with you because a display of self-righteousness—moral posturing—is a pleasant action whatever the circumstances, and it’s nice to have an excuse for it. (ibid, 62)

With All I Am blog believes that ideas matter. Though committed to classical reformed Christian theism, I (Prayson Daniel) believe different views should be fairly presented and discussed out in an open marketplace of other competing ideas with gentleness and civility. I believe atheists and theists, reformed and non-reformed Christians, Protestants and Catholics can be open and tolerate each other, even when we strongly disagree.

With All I Am blog believes we can restore the capacity to dialogue with those holding different and opposing views, by addressing each other’s difficulty but honest critiques in a respectable manner.

With All I Am blog believes you (readers) can present more than your mere personal opinions by concisely comment where you think the authors are uninformed, misinformed, illogical or incomplete.

With All I Am blog believes it is possible to hold strong views on a particular subject yet be open and committed to honestly listening and critically evaluating opposing views.

It is time we listen. It is time we reason together. Think. Reason. Follow

Van Iwagen, Peter (2006) The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Problem With Forgiveness

Cross Nails

Probably the core belief of Christianity is the concept of forgiveness. It is the central teaching of Jesus and held aloft as the prime virtue of God himself. However nice a virtue it is in small doses, it is completely impracticable and worse still undesirable even if it was possible. Both the forgiveness Jesus told us to show to one another and the forgiveness God supposedly has for us are fundamentally flawed and rife with problems.

If I was to ask a random person what the most important teaching of Jesus was, they would probably answer the importance of forgiveness. The quotes are well know, “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” (Luke 6:31) and “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well” (Matthew 5:39-40). Now this sounds quite nice but is completely impracticable in life. Imagine if we really did forgive everyone no matter what they did? Imagine if we never judged anyone (Luke 6:37) Imagine a world of love, forgiveness and empty jails? What if we really not only forgave thieves but also gave them the rest of our possessions? What if our response to violent thugs was not to call the police but to turn the other cheek?

The result is obviously too absurd to contemplate. This is a fact that even devout Christians themselves acknowledge and realise that the core teachings of their faith are completely unrealistic and unworkable in real life. Now I would think that would make them question their beliefs, but what do I know, I’m only a heretic myself. You see talk of forgiveness is merely nice sounding empty words, the kind of stuff you put on fridge magnet, not the stuff you base laws and societies on. This means Christianity is at best a nice thought for the day and not something to live you live by. The debate on the role of religion in society should be much easier to resolve once everyone points out the obvious fact that it is impossible to truly base a society on religion.

Second of all there is the forgiveness that God is supposed to have for us. To many this is a comforting thought, as let’s face it; we have all broken the rules at some point in our lives (especially religious rules). So we all are comfortable with the thought of receiving forgiveness, but people don’t think about the fact that this forgiveness is open to everyone. Murderers, rapists, thieves, thugs, liars, cheats etc can all be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven. The problem is that some people don’t deserve forgiveness. Our newspapers and history books are full of horrendous crimes that many believe deserve eternal punishment. The idea that perpetrators of mass murder (Colonialism was perpetrated by mostly Christian countries, to use one example and to say nothing of genocides in Rwanda and Germany) should receive eternal reward is a thought that would make many practicing Christians sick.

The core problem with forgiveness is that it completely undermines organised religion. You see the main purpose of organised religion is to provide various rules and a moral compass for its members. Rules are at the core of this (the Ten Commandments for example). However, forgiveness makes all the rules null and void. This is because I could break all the rules, be forgiven and enter Heaven just the same as though I had never broken a single one. I could live (what the Church would call) an immoral life of sex, debauchery, sin and cruelty, and so long as I make a deathbed conversion with an appeal for forgiveness, I shall enter Heaven just the same as the Pope. In fact, why bother following any of the rules if trespass will be forgiven?

You see forgiveness completely undermines the rules and therefore the meaning of the Church (I have the Catholic one in mind, but they are all pretty similar). You can live the life of an Atheist free from any rules, moral guidance or respect for God and so long as you change your ways somewhere towards the end of your life, you will be forgiven. Jesus died for your sins, so don’t just sit there living a good life, go wild. After all, you have a blank cheque. You see you can have forgiveness or you can have the Church, but you can’t have both.

About Guest Contributor

Robert NielsenRobert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies  that are not similar to mine.

Nietzsche’s Rejection of Darwinian Evolution

Nietzsche Wikipedia

“The error of the Darwinist school has become a problem for me: ” wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, “how can one be so blind as to fail to see clearly here? … That the species represent progress is the most unreasonable assertion in the world:” (Nietzsche 2003, 258)

In a period of ten years, Nietzsche drifted from admiring Darwin and his company as “great names of England” to discourteously mocking and ridiculing them as “English psychologists” and “our ape-genealogists”. This article concisely introduced only two, among many, of Nietzsche’s cases against the theory of Darwinian evolution mostly when associated with Homo sapiens.

Case Against Darwinian Progressivity

Natural selection works, according to Charles Darwin, “solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.”(Darwin 1909, 528) This idea of progressivity in Darwinian evolution did not only astounded Nietzsche but also its opposite seemed, according to Nietzsche’s survey of “great destinies of man”, to be true. He wrote,

What surprises me most when surveying the great destinies of man is always seeing before me the opposite of what Darwin and his school see or want to see today: selection in favor of the stronger, in favor of those who have come off better, the progress of the species. The very opposite is quite palpably the case: the elimination of the strokes of luck, the uselessness of the better-constituted types, the inevitable domination achieved by the average, even below-average types.(Nietzsche 2003, 258)

Unless our-ape-genealogists gave him reasons why Homo sapiens were an exception to Darwinian evolution, Nietzsche was persuaded that “the school of Darwin has everywhere deceived itself ”(2003, 259) In struggle for man’s existence, it is not the highest, the strongest, the fittest and the fortunate that survive but the lower and the weaker who “predominate through numbers, through prudence, [and] through cunning”.

Nietzsche argued that chance variation, contrary to Darwinian’s survival for the fittest, does not yield any benefit to the fittest. He observed that “nature is cruel towards its favourites, it spares and protects and loves les humbles ”(2003, 260)

Thus it is not the case that in struggle for existence the weak organism perishes while the strong survive. Chance seems to serve both the weak and the strong. Nietzsche asserted that, “one nowhere finds any example of unconscious selection (absolutely not). The most disparate individuals unite with one another, the extremes are submerged in the mass. Everything competes to preserve its type; creatures with exterior markings to protect them from danger do not lose them when they encounter conditions in which they live without danger” (Nietzsche 1968, 362)

Case Against Macroevolution of Creatures

“There are no transitional forms.-” contended Nietzsche. Darwinist asserts modification of organism as they struggle to adapt into their environment, food and climate. Nietzsche argued that this is not what we see in reality. “Every type has its limits;” he explained, “beyond these there is no evolution. Up to this point, absolute regularity”(1968, 363)

Nietzsche accepted a microevolution of creatures theory, but argued that one cannot move from microevolution to macroevolution. Example we can, by unnatural selection, breed dogs to form different breeds, but there is a limit and beyond these there is no evolution. Dogs after all remain dogs. It is for this reason we have no transitional forms.

Concisely, Nietzsche’s general view could be captured as: “man as a species is not progressing. Higher types are indeed attained, but they do not last. The level of the species is not raised […] man as a species does not represent any progress compared with any other animal. The whole animal and vegetable kingdom does not evolve from the lower to the higher – but all at the same time, in utter disorder, over and against each other”(ibid)

The two Nietzschean doubts I presented, as some of reasons Nietzsche rejected Darwinian evolution, mostly when applied to Homo sapiens, are (1) the falsehood of survival for the fittest and (2) the limits of evolution.

Previous: Nietzsche and Two Unpleasant Implications of Darwinism

Bibliography:

Darwin, Charles (1909). The Harvard Classics 11: Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin. (C. W. Eliot, Ed.) . New York: P.F. Collier & Son.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1968) The Will to Power. A New Translation by Water Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale. Vintage Books. New York.

_________________________ (2003) Writings from the Late Notebooks. Translated by Kate Sturge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.