Out of Eden vs. Out of Africa

By Roger Marshall*
Many Pan Africanists often postulate an evolutionary “Out of Africa” explanation for the origin of the world’s various people groups. This fact is borne out in the first display under the theme “The Dawn of Civilisation.” in the new African Gallery at the Barbados Museum. The display plots an imaginary path of my African ancestors and all mankind’s supposed evolutionary descent from apelike animals. Nothing in the display informs the public about the fact that the so-called missing links between apes and men have all been scientifically debunked in one way or the other.

However, there is a much better explanation for man’s origin that best fits with the scientific evidence. That explanation is found in the Bible.

The Bible has long advocated the doctrine – which is now supported by mitochondrial genetic evidence – that all human beings are the descendants of the same mother. Genesis chapter 3, verse 20 reads: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” Furthermore it is stated that by analysis of some of the genes of the y-chromosomes some scientists have traced our origin back to a singular man (audio tape Origins of the Races featuring Biochemist Dr. Duane Gish). That is a further plus for the veracity of the Scriptures.

Nevertheless, while acknowledging the scientific evidence for a single mother of homo sapiens sapiens (i.e. humans like you and I) evolutionists and their adherents seek to sandwich their “African Eve” (a term that is however anathema for some apparently because of its Biblical connotations) between an evolutionary sequence of characters beginning in Africa with ape-like animals like the australopithecines (e.g. “Lucy”) and ending with “modern” man.

Yet if we take a closer look at the fossil evidence we find that Homo sapiens existed contemporaneously with the australopithecines and even before them, thus invalidating the belief that Homo sapiens descended from these animals. Examples of these fossils are the Kanapoi elbow fossil discovered in northern Kenya and dated at 4.4 million years old (according to the evolutionary time scale) which, as William W. Howells of Harvard University said, “… could not be distinguished from Homo sapiens morphologically or by multivariate analysis …” (see Homo erectus In Human Descent: Ideas And Problems by William W. Howells p. 70-71). Then there are the Laetoli footprint trails discovered in northern Tanzania dated again, according to the evolutionary time scale, at 3.6 million years old but yet as Russell H. Tuttle of the University of Chicago said, “ In discernible features … are indistinguishable from those of habitually barefoot Homo sapiens” (The Pattern of Little Feet by Russell H. Tuttle and D.M. Webb, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Feb. 1989).

The point is, as far back as we go in the fossil record man has always been man and has not arisen from ape-like animals just as the Bible indicates.

As for our “racial” features, (genetic variations would be a better term) these are indeed the result of genetic isolation due to dispersion but not the “Out of Africa” monkeys to people evolutionary version. Rather, the initial dispersion was from the Tower of Babel in the Mesopotamian valley some time after the Flood of Noah’s day as the Bible reveals. Interestingly enough an overwhelming number of cultures, long before any Judeo/Christian contact, recall in accounts of their origins the events of a worldwide flood and some of its after effects as if they had borrowed it from the Bible. This is exactly what we would expect if the Bible’s account of our origins is true. Thus again the historicity of the Bible is validated giving further assurance that it is a book we can trust even as it addresses the subject of mankind’s origin.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2004

Of Demons and Sin

By Roger Marshall*

We are living in a time when many Christians have demonised sin. Hence we hear terms such as demons/spirits of lust, demons/spirits of envy, demons/spirits of hatred, demons/spirits of jealousy, demons/spirits of anger, demons/spirits of greed, and even demons of gluttony etc. which need to be cast out of the believer if the believer is to live a victorious Christian life.

However, the Bible describes mankind’s sinful habits, practices and attitudes as an inherently human problem. Personal evil stems from one giving into or following the dictates of one’s own evil desires which emits from the fallen human nature. As Jer. 17: 20 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jesus reiterated this fact when he said: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” (Mk. 7: 20-23, NIV) James picks up the same point when he wrote: “When tempted, one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he temp anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James1: 13-15). Notice the Bible does not say that these evils result in the life because of indwelling demons but rather because of indwelling sin nature. Satan appeals to the fallen nature as he tempts man to give in to all the dictates of the sin nature.

The Bible teaches that these sins are habits which believers need to stop doing by putting off the deeds of the old man (i.e. the sinful nature) and putting on the new man (i.e. the new redeemed nature controlled by the Holy Spirit) See: Gal. 5: 16-26; Eph 4: 17-32; Col. 3: 1-10; Heb. 12: 1-2. There are no instructions in the Bible to have demons cast out of the believers to help them overcome any besetting sin. Furthermore the Bible teaches that Satan and his angels/demons are outside the believer not inside! As 1 John 4: 4 says: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.
2005

God: The Source of Morality Pt. 2

By Roger Marshall*
“In disagreement with article ‘Morality comes from God’. ” was the title of Mr. Philip A. Stahl’s rebuttal of my earlier letter which appeared in the Barbados Advocate, December 23, 2004.

In his letter Mr. Stahl, who identified himself as still adhering to his long held atheistic beliefs, tried to explain the origin of morality apart from “god belief or adhering to ‘laws’ of a god.”

First I must say that Mr. Stahl is right in one thing he said and that is: “people should be encouraged to think rationally and critically concerning ethics…” but of course ones conclusions will be affected by ones world–view. Mr. Stahl is arguing from an atheistic world–view, I’m arguing from a theistic one. We need to ask ourselves which world–view is best supported by the objective evidence around us.

Postulating that actions are naturally good or bad within themselves without “a god” having to ordain them as so, Mr. Stahl concluded that actions are determined good in as much as they are linked to the protection of one’s own welfare, which is linked to the promotion of the welfare of others – “No god is necessary.”

He used a scenario of saving a child from a burning house as an example of an ethical or “good” thing to do because the time may come when the rescuer may want a similar favour reciprocated on his/her behalf from the others in the society. Whether Mr. Stahl realises it or not, the full import of this line of reasoning means that what appears to be good or ethical behaviour, is really nothing more than a cleaver way by which the human animal seeks to protect its life (or that of its offspring) in the great evolutionary drama of survival of the fittest. It’s not about ultimate truth, as to whether it is really right or wrong to harm one’s fellow man rather it’s about assessing the situation one finds oneself in (the hub of situation ethics). Given another situation, where one’s self – preservation could be assured without any reprisals from the society at large (say, if the child was allowed to perish in the fire) then quite an opposite response to the child in danger may result. History records that for some past cultures, the ethical or “good” thing to do was for parents to sacrifice their children in grizzly ways (by fire or dagger) unto “the gods” without any reprisals from the wider society. In fact such inhumane acts were supposedly carried out on the behalf of the parent’s own welfare and the promotion of the welfare of the others in the society! The modern equivalent to these ancient legal atrocities is the present day abortion industry. In Hitler’s Germany the extermination of the Jews was viewed as a “good” thing to do. As far as Hitler and his society were concerned, this brand of ethics was linked to the protection of the welfare of the Aryan race.

If there is no universal moral governor (i.e. God) who sets a common standard of rules for all mankind to follow, then what gives Mr. Stahl the right to claim that his view of morality is better than any one else’s? He may squirm at the thought of committing acts of violence against or stealing from his fellow man etc. because he does not want the same to be done to him, but others may actually get a pleasurable adrenalin rush from doing such things as they set out to prove who is stronger and more cunning (believing that they have what it takes to be victorious) in the battle of survival of the fittest.

In a further attempt to support his thesis that no god is necessary for the general moral consciousness among men, Mr. Stahl submitted the naturalistic, evolutionary notion that man has derived his “ethical sense and directive” from his animal ancestors. He cited examples of animals that put their lives in danger to protect their young and even their pack, to support his hypothesis. However, what about those animals that kill their offspring? Is such conduct acceptable among humans since it is a natural way of life among our supposed animal relatives? If it is not unethical for animals to behave that way why should it be unethical for humans to do the same (if indeed we’re all just animals)? In fact they are those naturalists who view this behaviour among animals as a rationale for the practice of human infanticide (which would include abortion). Similarly some view what appears to them as homosexual affection among some animals as a rationale for the acceptance and legalising of human homosexual behaviour.

If Mr. Sthal is going to be consistent in his world – view, which excludes God from the picture, then he must factor all these things I’ve mentioned into the equation, as his eclecticism on this issue cannot be rationally defended. When that is done, his opinion of what is “the sane, human and decent thing to do” remains just that: his subjective opinion.

Nevertheless, in spite of the stark (sometimes horrible) differences between the moral practices of different cultures, there is a discernable moral standard common to all men in regard to what is really right or wrong, which (although showing similarities in some instances) many times runs contrary to behaviour we observe in the animal kingdom. Generally everyone concedes that it is really wrong to steal, cheat, lie, and commit adultery or murder etc. Our failure to adhere to this standard may lead us to feel guilt while we may express anger at others who fail to do the same. However, more often than not men choose to ignore, stifle and rationalise away the moral standard as they proceed to do contrary to what it demands. The fundamental question is: where does that standard come from?

C. Stephen Evans offers some good insight on this matter when he said: “this standard, this “law” if you will, is therefore not simply a description about how people behave. It is a prescription about how people should behave, though one they are constantly violating. So morality is not simply a law of nature like the law of gravity. It doesn’t describe how things in nature go on, but how human behaviour ought to go on.”

Again he says: “The moral order does not seem to consist of any such things [i.e., instincts and feelings]. It is not an instinct, because it is itself the standard by which we judge our instincts to be good or bad…” (C. Stephen Evans, Quest for Faith, pp.45, 47, cited in Faith and Reason by Ronald H. Nash, pp. 159, 160; emphasis mine). In other words the moral order/law is objectively external to our own subjective experiences and peculiar set of circumstances.

British philosopher Hastings Rashdall summarises the answer to this question succinctly when he said: “We say that the Moral Law has a real existence, that there is such a thing as an absolute [i.e. objective] Morality, that there is something absolutely [i.e., objectively] true or false in ethical judgements, whether we or any number of human beings at any given time actually think so or not….We must therefore face the question where such an ideal exists, and what manner of existence we are to attribute to it. Certainly it is to be found, wholly and completely, in no individual human consciousness….Only if we believe in the existence of a Mind for which the true moral ideal is already in some sense real, a Mind which is the source of whatever is true in our own moral judgements, can we rationally think of the moral ideal as no less real than the world itself. Only so can we believe in an absolute standard of right and wrong, which is independent of this or that man’s actual ideas and actual desires as the facts of material nature. The belief in God…is the logical presupposition of an “objective” or absolute Morality. A moral ideal can exist nowhere and nohow but in a Mind; an absolute moral ideal can exist only in a Mind from which all Reality is derived. Our moral ideal can only claim objective validity in so far as it can rationally be regarded as the revelation of a moral ideal eternally existing in the mind of God” (Hastings Rashdall, The Theory of Good and Evil, 2: 211 – 12, cited in Faith and Reason by Ronald H. Nash, pp. 160, 161).

In short if morality (in particular that ideal, decent and humane morality by which Mr. Stahl would like all men to live; even if only in part) is to be worth its salt it must have its foundation and source in God – the absolute moral governor of the universe.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2005

God: The Source of Morality

By Roger Marshall*

“Religion’s role in the issue of immorality” was the title of Dr. Victor Evelyn’s letter to the editor (Barbados Advocate, Nov. 20th, 2004). In that letter Dr. Evelyn claimed, “Morality exists, has existed and will continue to exist outside of religion.” After asserting that Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah are simply “different names for the same myth in whose honour so much blood is shed and so much hate and invective is unleashed”, he concluded that “Religion has been repeatedly a stumbling block to the development of morals in the communities of men.” To back up his claims and assertions he cited atrocities which were backed by religion (and more specifically “ Christians”) such as the Inquisition, the European slave trade, the displacement of the Native Indians of North America by “The religious Bible-carrying Europeans who tricked, cheated, robbed, massacred and marginalize them” and the Jewish holocaust which was engineered by Adolph Hitler who “regarded himself as doing ‘God’s’ work when as a Christian he brutalised and murdered the Jews.”

In his most recent letter entitled “Compassion and deep thought needed” (B’dos Advocate, Dec. 12th, 2004) he further asserted his belief that “all religions are fundamentally false” and that Christianity in particular has the “worse history of leading society into degenerate behaviours than any other.” In light of these comments it is thus apparent that Dr. Evelyn is either an agnostic or an all out atheist. It would be interesting to know his view on origins, since people of his persuasion are usually evolutionists, I will assume that he is probably one as well. As Nobel Prize – winning biologist of Harvard University, Dr. George Wald once said: “The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation (evolution); the only alternative, to belief in a single, primary act of creation (by God as taught in the Bible). There is no third position…” (parentheses and emphasis mine). In other words one either believes in supernatural creation or naturalistic evolution, and since Dr. Evelyn believes that God is a myth, then his only option for origins is atheistic evolutionism. His letter therefore raises the fundamental question as to what really determines morality. Is morality determined by human government, is it determined by the masses or is it determined by a transcendent moral governor of the universe i.e. God?

If human government determines morality then what gives people the right to dissent when governments legalise atrocious practises. For example, today many years after the events, we still denounce things such as the infamous transatlantic slave trade, apartheid and the Jewish holocaust, just to name a few. Currently many protest the U.S. lead invasion and occupation of Iraq etc. But if government determines morality then according to the rulers who orchestrated these acts of cruelty there was nothing wrong with their actions. On the other hand if morality is determined by the masses then why are governments seeking to crack down on things such as child pornography, the illegal drugs trade and other forms of vice? Because to the masses involved in these practices there is absolutely nothing wrong with their nefarious activities.

If man is just an animal, the end result of a long purposeless series of genetic mistakes (mutations), as the atheistic proponents of Darwinian evolution believe, then where did man get his concept of morality? How could an animal (with its basic animalistic instincts of getting all it can at the expense of the weakest, in the brutal evolutionary “dog eat dog” battle of survival of the fittest) make a transition to become interested in things such as right and wrong, social graces, etiquette, protocol, reverence, truth, honesty, manners, gratitude, fairness and kindness etc.? In fact it is the survival of the fittest philosophy (the get all you can mentality no matter who you hurt in the process, because you only go around once, after all, when “yah dead yah dead”) that is used by many to explain and justify mankind’s history of savagery against his fellowman. This is seen as man just naturally exhibiting his inherent animal instincts (inherited from his wild animal ancestors in the jungles of Africa where human evolution is said to have started) and therefore it is believed that nothing is intrinsically wrong with such actions. It’s just how life is “eat or be eaten.”

In fact, if man is just an animal morality does not really exist, it is only a subjective construct of the human mind (like the concept of God, as the atheist tell us) therefore it all depends on who gets the upper hand in society to impose his or her concept of morality on the others, again in the age old battle of survival of the fittest. If this is the case then why would people of Dr. Evelyn’s persuasion complain about atrocities that have been carried out under the banner of religion (or Communism or Nazism or even Democracy for that matter)? If Darwinian evolution is true then we would have to conclude that such actions, even under the guise of religion, were and are just testimony of the many ingenious ways by which man the animal instinctively carries out his survival of the fittest mentality by any means necessary. In other words we are just witnessing the evolutionary laws of the jungle at work in all spheres of human society.

On the other hand, if there is a moral governor of the universe who sets the rules of right and wrong then men are first accountable to Him for their actions, and secondly they are also accountable to each other (since man is created in the image of God) for whether or not they conduct their lives according to those rules which God has imposed upon the consciences of all men, even though may not of heard about or read the Bible. As the Bible itself says: “For when Gentiles (i.e. non – Jewish people), who do not have the law (i.e. the written law of God given to the Jews in Mosaic covenant), by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them, in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2: 14 – 16; parentheses mine). So more than morality existing outside of religion morality actually emanates from God Himself. The choice is left to man to live his life according to the dictates of his God – given conscience or else stifle his conscience and proceed in his evil deeds. The consequences of the latter, as human history shows, are devastating.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2004

Examining The Five-Fold Ministry

By Roger Marshall*

An integral part of dominion theology or “Kingdom Now” theology is the doctrine of the five-fold ministry. It is based on Eph. 4: 7-13, which reads: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Using these verses those who advocate the doctrine of the five-fold ministry claim that God is restoring to His church the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in order to perfect the saints and prepare them to rule or “take dominion” over cultures, cities, governments, nations etc.

However, on a very important point it should be noted that Eph. 4: 11 is not teaching a five-fold ministry at all since according to the Greek grammatical construction which uses “some” to introduce the words “pastors and teachers” together, it is presenting this gifting as belonging to one group of persons. Hence the pastors are the teachers; furthermore the Greek word translated “and” can mean “in particular.” Therefore it can be translated as follows: “And he gave some to be pastors in particular teachers.” This highlights or emphasises the fact that those who have the role of caring for or shepherding the flock are also responsible for feeding or teaching the flock. They are called to be pastor-teachers or teaching shepherds (see John 21: 15-16; Acts 20: 28; 1 Tim.5: 17; 1 Pet. 5: 1-2). In light of these facts the so-called five-fold ministry identified in Eph. 4: 11 should really be seen as a four-fold ministry.

Nevertheless, I think that since the churches through out the years, especially the evangelical churches, have always had evangelists, and pastor- teachers, we should rather see the so-called restoration of the five-fold ministry as really the restoration of a “two-fold” ministry; that of apostles and prophets. I say this because in past times persons in the evangelical churches did not readily hold the offices of apostle and prophet. What is now intended is that the already existing evangelists and pastor- teachers are to come under the authority of the newly “restored” apostles and prophets. This objective is justified by their interpretation of Eph. 2: 19-21 which reads: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”

However, according to Eph. 2: 19-22 the church universal is already built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets of the first century church. Interestingly enough the Greek grammatical construction used in Eph. 2: 20 is the same as in Eph. 4: 11 about the pastor-teachers. Hence the apostles are the prophets. The church’s foundation is actually the doctrine of the apostles of Christ, which is divine revelation from God preserved for us as Scripture (see Acts 2: 42; Eph. 3: 1-5; 2 Pet. 3: 15-16).
Every time we read the New Testament and quote or correctly preach from it we are preaching and teaching the apostles doctrine. As such we are still subject to their apostolic authority and office, though dead they still speak. Therefore whether we realise it or not the ministry of the apostle-prophets of the early church was never lost that would merit a restoration of their office.

Is the office of Apostles being restored today?

Those who claim to be or may aspire to be apostles, as a unique and distinctive ministry in the body of Christ, need to ask themselves the question; in what sense are they apostles or in what sense could they become apostles?

The answer to this question could either validate or invalidate the claim that God is restoring the office of apostles to the church. I say this because the term apostle was used in basically three different ways in Scripture.

First the term apostle, from the Greek apostello means to “send” and was used in a general sense referring to all believers as “sent” ones (cf. John 17: 18; 20: 21). Since in this sense all believers are already apostles or “sent” ones there is no need for this ministry to be restored to the body of Christ because it never ceased.

The second way the term apostle was used was to describe missionaries/messengers sent out on missions by and subject to the churches (see Acts 13: 1-3; 14: 14; 15: 22; Phil. 2: 25; 1Thess. 2: 6). Again in this sense there is no need for a restoration of this type of apostolic ministry because it never ceased.

The third way the term apostle was used in Scripture was in the unique sense that applied only to the apostles of Christ. These men were personally chosen by Jesus himself and were given authority over the church to instruct and guide it in all aspects of faith and practice. They gave divine revelation that recalled the past, explained the present and unveiled the future ministry of Christ to his church, Israel and the entire world (cf. Jn. 14: 26; 16; 13; Acts 2; 42; 15: 1-29; 2 Pet. 1: 12-16; 3: 2-16; Jude 3-4, 17-18; Rev. 1:1-3).

To be an apostle in this sense a person had to be an eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly ministry, death and resurrection (Acts 1: 21-22;cf. Luke 24: 44-48; 1 Cor. 15: 7-8; 9; 1; 1 Pet. 5: 1).

They demonstrated miraculous sign gifts (e.g. the instantaneous healing of the sick and physically disabled etc.) that confirmed their message was from God (Mk. 16: 17-18; Acts 2: 43; 3: 29-30; 5: 12-16; 19: 11-12; 2 Cor. 12: 12; Heb. 2: 1-4).

Their teachings and writings were regarded as Scripture on par with the Old Testament Scriptures and were, and still are not to be changed, tampered with or altered in any way. To do so was, and still is to be accused (see Gal. 1: 6-9; 2 Tim 3: 16-17; 2 Pet. 3: 15-16; Rev. 22: 18-19).

This form of apostolic ministry is the only type that we can legitimately say ceased with the death of all those who had fit the criteria. Furthermore their unique office can never be restored since no one today fits the criteria. However, I would add that although the apostles in this last category have all died, their ministry has never ceased since the church today is still founded on their doctrine. Therefore all three categories of apostles and their presence in the church throughout church history, whither in the general sense, the missionary sense, or the unique sense that refers to the irreplaceable apostles of Christ, invalidate the claims of the restoration movement within Dominion Theology that God is restoring apostles to the church. One cannot restore what has never been lost.

Therefore what should we make of the claims within the restoration movement about the restoration of apostles? When we examine the literature these claims amount to nothing more than an attempt to usurp authority over the churches in a sense that belongs only to the first century apostles of Christ. For example restoration apostle Terry Virgo in his book Restoration in the Church says: “The elders often feel trapped within the framework and long for an outside voice to authoritatively proclaim the way forward. Indeed, it is very often the elders who most feel the need for the apostolic ministry…Traditional churches are feeling the pressures of new life. Charismatic gifts are emerging; a desire for freer worship is being expressed. How are leaders to proceed? Many are facing such issues and do not know which way to turn. Conferences for likeminded pastors will not provide the full answer, nor will charismatic organisations. God’s way is to give apostles and prophets. He has simply appointed men with different gifts to do different jobs”(emphases mine).

Of Elders, Bishops and Pastors

However, in New Testament teaching the role of the pastor-teacher is key to the survival of the local church. Whereas we tend to divide up leadership in the contemporary church into separate offices such as elders, pastors and bishops, in the New Testament an elder, pastor and bishop were actually one and the same person.

In 1 Tim. 3: 1-2 a bishop is identified as a pastor-teacher.

In Tit. 1: 3-7 an elder is identified as a bishop.

In 1 Pet. 5: 1-2 an elder, pastor, and bishop is clearly identified as one and the same person. The passage reads: “The elders [presbyteries i.e.presbertery] which are among you I exhort who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed [poimaino i.e. shepherd/pastor] the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [episkopeo; from which we get the term bishop] thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”
This fact is also expressed in Acts 20: 17-18, 28.

Bible expositor John Mac Arthur in his book Answering the Key Questions About Elders p. 8, points out that the term elder emphasises the spiritual maturity of the person, the term pastor emphasises his role in caring, feeding and guarding the flock of God, while the term bishop emphasises his function, which is actually that of an overseer.

Therefore as Pastor Michael G. Moriarty says “an elder is just a different word describing the same office as a pastor or bishop” (cited in The New Charismatics, p.200).

In the days of the early church the churches were lead by a plurality of elders/pastors/bishops (Acts 14: 23; 20: 17; Tit. 1: 5). This something we should probably strive to have restored.

The role of the pastor-teacher is to safeguard the flock from false teachers by teaching them sound doctrine (Acts 20: 28; I Tim.4: 6, 11, 13; 5: 17; 2Tim. 2:15;Tit. 2: 1).

What about prophets?

The concept of New Testament prophets appears to be a signification identifying persons gifted in edifying, exhorting and comforting the church such as Judas (not Iscariot) and Silas (see Acts 15: 32; cf 14: 22). Hence the gift of prophesy in the New Testament context seems to have been the ability given by the Spirit to some to give inspired exhortation, edification and comfort to the church (see 1 Cor. 14: 3, 24-25).

These prophecies or exhortations were to be judged for correctness (1 Cor. 14: 29).

These prophets were subject to authority of the apostles (1 Cor. 14: 37).
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2005

Darwinism the Perfect Rational for Racism

By Roger Marshall*
Theology of racism was the title of Mr. Orlando Marville’s article, which appeared in the October 5, 2003 edition of the Sunday Sun. In that article he sought to lay much of the blame for the ills of modern-day racism at the feet of an erroneous “Christian” theology which permeated vast segments of 19th century European thought. However, while contending (with good grounds) that there was a massive revision of history which de-Africanised the Egyptians and instead Europeanised them, it is amazing that he is so prepared to accept as fact an even greater revision of history which claims that mankind evolved from ape-like soulless animals in the jungles of Africa.

While it is true that the Bible has been used to propagate theories which claimed that the African was an inferior species not imbued with a human soul which in turn gave a rational for enslaving millions of Africans in the Americas, it must be bourn in mind that such theories are no where taught in the Bible neither have they been taught by true Biblical Christianity. The true Judeo-Christian worldview of humanity states that God
“…has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…”
(Acts 17:26). In other words all men regardless of ethnicity are created equal.

On the hand Darwin’s theory of evolution gives the perfect rational for the theories of racial superiority and inferiority. In the fact the full title of Darwin’s book published in 1859 was, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races In The Struggle for Life. In Darwin’s subsequent book The Decent of Man he espoused his belief that different races of people evolved at different levels and that some were closer to ape-like creatures than others. In fact Darwin believed that the Australian Aborigines were the most primitive and the most closely related to our supposed ape-like ancestors.

It was Darwinism, which gave Hitler the “scientific” rational to carry out his atrocities against the Jews and other “lower races.” As Robert Clark observed, Adolf Hitler “…was captivated by evolutionary teaching – probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas – quite undisguised – lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf – and in his public speeches…Hitler reasoned…that a higher race would always conquer a lower”(Darwin: Before and After by Robert Clark, p. 115). In his own words at the 1933 Nuremberg party rally Hitler said that a “higher race subjects to itself a lower race…a right which we see in nature and which can be regarded as the sole conceivable right”(Race and Reich by J. Tenenbaum, p. 211).

Darwinism is also central to Karl Marx’s ideology which inspired the atrocities carried out by communist monsters such as Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung (just to name a few) in which over 150 million people were exterminated all in the name of evolution’s survival of the fittest philosophy.

Thus Darwinism – the hub of much of Pan Africanism’s high self-esteem motivational trust, which proudly proclaims that the Black man was the original man to evolve from the apes in Africa – is in itself an inherently a racist philosophy favouring any subsequent “race”(in this case the white race) which would later subjugate the preceding race as epitomised by the transatlantic slave trade and its many varied after effects which are still being felt today.

Maybe Pan Africanists who embrace Darwinism (like Mr. Marville) have not thoroughly thought through their philosophy, but for them to abandon the Biblical doctrine of origins in which all men are created equal by God (which gives hope and scope for repentance and racial reconciliation) to replace it with an inherently racist, atheistic evolutionary philosophy (which offers no hope or scope for repentance and racial reconciliation) is a sure recipe for perpetuating racial inequality.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2003

Are All Music Styles Truly Appropriate for Communicate the Gospel Message?

By Roger Marshall*


“ The Contemporary Christian Music side would say that music is neutral. Therefore I as a Christian can use any type of music that I want. Jazz, rock, punk, rap, disco, heavy metal, pop, country, rhythm and blues, etc. reggae, you name it; any thing goes to worship the Lord. It is all appropriate and no lines can be drawn except those of personal taste. As long as my music mentions God in some way and it’s useful for evangelism. The critics on the other hand says music is not neutral it has the capability of communicating imbalance and sensuality. It can confuse the spiritual effectiveness of the message therefore I as a Christian must draw a line. Any music that cannot appropriately communicate the message is unfit to use for the worshipping of the Lord. My personal taste is subject to scriptural conviction. Evangelism is a result of my right relationship with God.” (Tim Fisher, The Battle for Christian Music, 1992, p. 56).
The “any kind of music goes” mentality of many contemporary gospel music lovers finds expression in what is known as The Christian Rockers Creed that was published in the November 1988 edition of Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM). It says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all music was created equal, that no instrument or style of music is in itself evil–that the diversity of musical expression which flows forth from man is but one evidence of the boundless creativity of our Heavenly Father.”

However, this argument fails to take into account the fact that mankind is fallen and his fallenness surfaces in every aspect of his culture including the musical styles he creates. Since our fore parents Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it stands to reason that their children in all cultures would be capable of creating both good and evil/bad music, and that has nothing to do with the lyrics which is another equally important subject altogether.

Is music truly neutral? Is good or bad behaviour in listening to music only determined by the lyrics or does the music itself play a significant part in determining behaviour? Which side does the evidence best support?

In seeking answers to these questions one should bear in mind that the use of a piece of music in a secular context is not the determining factor that makes it bad, by the same token music used in a Christian context does not make it good. Secular singers can be praised for using good music for their songs, as well as Christians can be blamed for using bad music for their songs. Music should be judged on the merits or demerits of what it incites people to do, however subtle those actions might be. Many music researchers have known for a long time that music can incite anger and violence, stir up courage, cause tears or excite lustful passion etc., and I must stress these influences are apart from lyrics. In short music creates moods.

For example Kisonians wouldn’t use a funeral dirge or a ballad for a road-march tune on Kadooment day or Carnival time, it wouldn’t create the desired mood. Neither do couples use regimented music for romantic evenings of dinner with the lights turned down low, it just wouldn’t create the right mood! Experiments have shown that the right style of music helps to sooth mental illnesses, increase productivity at the office, relax cows thereby making it easier to milk them and even influence proper plant growth. Music definitely is not neutral!

As far back as the 1960’s and into the 1970’s musicologist and neuroscientist Professor Manfred Clynes conducted experiments that showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that music is not neutral. It was in the 1960’s that Dr. Clynes invented the original CAT computer that measures the brain’s responses to particular sensory stimuli. He used it to discover that people’s brains produce remarkably similar patterns when presented with the same colour and SOUND stimuli. From his experiments, which involved people of both sexes from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds from several places around the world, he discovered that there are musical tones for inducing different emotions such as love, hate, grief, joy, reverence, anger and sex.

In light of Dr. Clynes’ findings it would serve gospel artists well to be very careful that the musical styles they employ are not in any way inducing anger and hate or exciting erotic passion.

Dr. Clynes does not stand alone in his analysis of the psychoactive nature of musical sounds. They are many other professionally trained musicians who through the years have attested to the non-neutrality of music, a few examples are as follows:

Max Schoen, 1940 – “Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses. The medical, psychiatric and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming that it frankly amazes me that anyone should seriously say otherwise” (Dr. Max Schoen, The Psychology of Music, 1940).

Howard Hanson, 1942 – “Music is a curiously subtle art with innumerable, varying emotional connotations. It is made up of many ingredients and, according to the proportions of these components; it can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarising, philosophical or orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for good” (Dr. Howard Hanson, American composer, conductor, and teacher, Director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 99, p. 317)

Dimitri Tiomkin, 1965 – “The fact that music can both excite and incite has been known from time immemorial. … Now in our popular music, at least, we seem to be reverting to savagery … and youngsters who listen constantly to this sort of sound are thrust into turmoil. They are no longer relaxed, normal kids” (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Aug. 8, 1965; Dr. Tiomkin is a famous composer and conductor).
William J. Shafer, 1972 – “Rock is communication without words, regardless of what ideology is inserted into the music” (Dr. William J. Shafer, Rock Music, 1972).

Steven Halpern, 1978 – “Words are incidental at best, or monotonous and moronic as usual. But the point is, that they don’t matter. What you dance to is the beat, the bass and drums. And with this mix and volume, not only is the beat sensed, but literally felt, as this aspect of the rhythm section takes precedence over melody and harmony” (Dr. Steven Halpern, Tuning the Human Instrument, 1978, p. 14).

Simon Frith, 1981 – “Most rock records make their impact musically rather than lyrically. The words, if they are noticed at all, are absorbed after the music has made its mark” (Simon Frith, sociology professor at University of Warwick in England, Sound Effects, 1981, p. 14).

Eddy Manson, 1983 – “Music is a two-edged sword. It’s really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits or make you sick without knowing why” (Eddy Manson, Oscar-winning film composer, quoted by David Chagall, Family Weekly, Jan. 30, 1983, pp. 12-15).

Adam Knieste, 1983 – “Music is a two-edged sword. It’s really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits, or make you sick without knowing why. Whereas mellow tones can relax you, loud grinding music can cause blood pressure to rise, leading to headaches and an anxious feeling” (Family Weekly, January 30, 1983; Dr. Knieste is a musicologist who studies the effects of music on human behaviour).

David Tame, 1984 – “Music is a form of language … music is more than a language. It is the language of languages. … Like human nature itself, music cannot possibly be neutral in its spiritual direction” (David Tame, musical researcher, The Secret Power of Music, 1984, pp. 151, 187).

Carol Merle-Fishman and Shelley Katsh, 1985 – “Music is a form of non-verbal communication” (Carol Merle-Fishman and Shelley Katsh, music therapists and instructors at New York University, The Music Within You, 1985, p. 206).

Gilbert Rouget, 1985 – “… what we need to remember is that music has a physical impact upon the listener and that it produces a sensorial modification in his awareness of being. This physical impact, of course, is what pop music is consciously striving for” (Gilbert Rouget, Music and Trance, 1985, p. 120).

Bob Larson- “…There is evidence, for instance, to suggest that when the beat overrides the other elements in a song the communication level is significantly changed to one which is primarily physical and often specifically sexual” (Bob Larson, cited in John Blanchard, Pop Goes The Gospel, 1983, p. 17).

Leonard Bernstein, 1990 – “Music is something terribly special … it doesn’t have to pass through the censor of the brain before it can reach the heart … An F-sharp doesn’t have to be considered in the mind; it is a direct hit, and, therefore, all the more powerful” (Leonard Bernstein, cited in Katrine Ames, “An Affair to Remember,” Newsweek, Oct. 29, 1990, p. 79).

Robert Shaw, 1998 – “I believe all the arts are moral. I can’t see how any of the arts can be neutral” (Kurt Woetzel, “Is Music Neutral? An Interview with Robert Shaw,” distinguished choral music director, FrontLine, September-October 1998, p. 11).

Having established the fact that music is not neutral it would be instructive for the seeker of truth to honestly look at the impact which utilising certain contemporary musical styles has had on the gospel music arena. Even the secular world has been realising the conflict of interest, one wonders why many Christians cannot.

Time Magazine once observed: “In a sense all rock is revolutionary. By its very beat and sound it has always implicitly rejected restraints and has celebrated freedom and sexuality.”(Time January 3, 1969, emphasis mine). Bearing this in mind consider a Newsweek article which did a feature on contemporary gospel music some years ago. The artist being featured at the time was Britain’s Sheila Walsh. Following is what the article had to say about one of her stage performances: “Your love has taken hold and I can’t fight it’ – keeping it unclear whether or not the lover is Jesus. At the Estes Park concert Britain’s Sheila Walsh – who has her own BBC television show – artfully mixed the sacred and sexy. Emerging from clouds of machine make smoke on a darkened stage … Walsh held her arms out to form a shadowy crucifix. But when the beat quickened, bright lights suddenly revealed a strutting Walsh in shinny white spandex pants, an oversized white shirt, white lace gloves and glittered hair.” (Newsweek, August 1985, emphasis mine).

Sixteen years later Newsweek carried another article featuring the gospel band Pillar. Following is what the article had to say about one of their performances: “ Are you ready to rip the face off this place screams the lead singer of Pillar. A hyped up crowd of teens 6000 strong goes nuts. The aggressive rap/rock band launches into a pummelling kick off number. The surly singer pounds the stage with his steel toed boots sweating right through his baggy army fatigues and black bandana. He jesters like the member of some vicious street gangster as he screams and roars into the mike his arms swinging low as if on the way to some rude phallic move. This crude move is as integral to rap-rock as a blown kiss is to a lounge act and is usually accompanied by a testosteroned explosion of expletives. The singer’s hands slaps down on his thigh and it stays there and gripping his pants leg with conviction he screams ‘Jesus Christ is he in your heart!’…” (Newsweek, July 2001). By the way Pillar is a group that has been favourably identified by CCM Magazine as sounding much like the secular group Rage Against the Machine a group that promotes rape, rebellion and incites anger and destruction.
Speaking of rebellion, lead singer of the ‘gospel’ rock band Audio Adrenalin which has sold more than 2 million albums since 1992, Mark Stewart said: “I think rebellion and Christianity go together…singing about sex and drugs is the easiest thing you can do its old by now. So pretty much the most rebellious rock and roll person you can be is a Christian rock front man because you get people from every side trying to shut you down.”

These images of sensuality and rebellion are further portrayed on several gospel music album covers and in the music videos where the artists, as in the case of some of the women, sometimes express themselves with very sultry face, lip and eye expressions (see for example the cover the album The Kiss by Trin-I-Tee 5:7) and with the sultry voice to go with it just like their sexy secular counterparts, or some times, as in the case of some of the men the artists may look more like thugs, rebels, or rude boys rather than ministers of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. There is even a group that calls themselves the Gospel Gangsters!

What is the reason for these kinds of developments in the gospel music arena you may ask? The answer lies in an uncritical acceptance of any and every music style, all the while ignoring or downplaying the intrinsic peculiar cultural baggage that inevitably goes along with the art form. Charisma magazine traced the origins of these developments in an article written by Dr. Richard Lovelace, a Pentecostal minister and professor of church history at Gordan Cornell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton Massachusetts. He said: “As I worked to bring teenagers to Christ I began to encounter the new rock culture. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and the rest. I was fascinated by the skill and creativity of these songs the most popular music since Johann Struss…I began to pray that God would some how give us a Christian Woodstock. Since the late 60’s, God seems to have been answering”(Charisma, Feb. 1985). For those who may be unaware, the 1969 Woodstock concert has been described as 3 days of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. People made love right in the open on the grass as they partied day and night.

I don’t suspect that Dr. Lovelace wanted to see that kind of activity being conducted in his vision of a “Christian Woodstock” but there can be no denying that there is a moral decline being witnessed in contemporary gospel music circles, and a lot of it has to do with certain music styles that are being employed as well as the decline of clear Biblically based lyrics. Musician Danny M. Sweatt made a very insightful statement when he said: “The obscure meaning of most gospel music is both a symptom of and a contributor to the general decline in our nation” (Church Music: sense and nonsense, 1981, p.11).

He also said: “Some churches that would never allow heresy to be preached from the pulpit allow it to be included in the lyrics of songs. Error is no less damaging when it is sung. Falsehood so couched may actually be more damaging because of its subtlety”(Church Music: sense and nonsense, p.7).
Of course, as pointed out before, they are those who will argue that the adaptation of all musical styles and even the employment of ambiguous lyrics (known as cross over music) in gospel music is all about “redeeming the culture” and converting the lost. But in light of the effects being witnessed in the gospel music arena one is forced to ask, as one researcher did, “Who is really converting whom?” I think the evidence speaks for its self.

John Fisher and Richard Taylor were also men of great insight when they said: “Some art forms have been created to express certain philosophies and are so wedded to those philosophies that they convey that kind of out look…we can’t assume that we simply plug in a Christian message and every thing will be okay”(John Fisher and Richard Taylor, Solid Rock)

Richard M. Taylor said it this way: “We cannot foster an erotic type of music and expect to succeed in avoiding the erosion of standards and ideals. Rock music has a message and it is the message of sexual permissiveness. As music affects your body you instinctively want to put motions to it. So what kind of motions fit rock music? Basically sensual motions. If the message of rock produces that sort of response, then it’s not good music for the Christian”(Richard M. Taylor, A Return to Christian Culture).

He further said: “We cannot change the basic effect of certain kinds of rhythm and beat simply by attaching to them a few religious or semi-religious words. The beat will still get through to the blood of the participants and the listeners. Words are timid things. Decibels and beat are bold things, which can so easily bury the words under an avalanche of sound. … There are music forms, whether secular or sacred, which create moods of pensiveness, of idealism, of awareness of beauty, of aspiration, and of holy joyousness. There are other forms of music that create moods of recklessness and sensual excitement. Surely it doesn’t take much judgment to know which forms are most appropriate for religious functions” (Dr. Richard M. Taylor, The Disciplined Lifestyle, 1973, pp. 86, 87).

Almost two decades ago the Assembles of God in the U.S.A. took a stand against the slide into sensuality that is persistently occurring in the contemporary music industry. It was in 1987 that delegates to the General Council meeting of the Assemblies of God voted to express “concern and disapproval of certain Christian artists whose appearance and stage performances contradict in form, substance and spirit that for which the Pentecostal movement stands.”

The resolution that was adopted at their annual meeting for that year stated further: “The church of Jesus Christ has come under special attack from Satan through the entertainment media and has been provoked to emulate the world in its degraded art form.” Delegates said that the spread of Rock music to the Christian community poses a direct threat to the holiness required by Scripture.

Evangelist Joseph Pyott, an ordained Assemblies of God minister originated the resolution as the result of a Stryper concert in his area. Pyott said the “so-called Christian rock group…dress like devils and wear Spandex costumes…I thought their performance was inappropriate and contradicted everything the Gospel stands for.’ Such performers ‘may use the right words, but in my opinion their performance and their dress contradict the things they say.”

The resolution was passed at the 2 million-member denomination’s General Council meeting in Oklahoma City in August of that year. Over 10,000 church members attended the meeting including 4,673 voting delegates (cited in Battle Cry Nov/Dec. 1987).

Contemporary gospel music lovers would do well to take a leaf from those ministers who had the courage, and the guts to call a spade a spade, as they drew the line as to what was appropriate or in appropriate in gospel music. There is need for all of us to seriously and rationally analyse the merits or demerits of what is taking place these days in the name of gospel music. The copout excuse that sometimes people get saved (which is often used to squelch the concerns raised by the “conservatives”) is really no excuse at all, for as Frank Shafer once said: “…People have been saved in concentration camps because God can bring good from evil but that does not justify the evil.”

While it is true that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which we stand is a gospel of liberty, it is also true that with liberty goes great responsibility. As the apostle Paul, under divine inspiration said: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. But by love serve one another” (Gal.5: 13).

Criterions for judging gospel music

Lastly let us consider some criterions that should be used to help us to be more discerning in the area of gospel music.

1. Is it Scriptural? Check the message content to see if it falls in line with what the Bible teaches about sin, redemption and sanctification etc. For example the song Praise On by the group Spiritual Pieces conveys the message that going to church and by extension Christianity is akin to a big party/fete. That surely is not scriptural.
2. Is the message clear? Crossover music that obscures the gospel message whereby the lyrics can mean anything the listener wants them to mean is equally unscriptural (cf. 1Cor. 14: 8).
3. In which direction does the music lead? If the music style is leading the listener to adopt a worldly outlook or attitude e.g. party-hearty, jump and wave revelry type Christians, hip-hop sexy Christians, rude-boy, gangster-rapping type Christians, Rasta/dance-hall type Christians etc. then it is not good music.
4. Does the music agree with the words? The lyrics may be saying one thing but the music could be suggesting something else completely different. For example the song Kadooment Must Go by Vibert Lowe, a song speaking out against wining/wukking-up, has a beat that could very well qualify it for a Road March song to which you could jam and wine down Spring Garden, and mind you the music is still very tame in comparison to many other so called “goscalypsoes.”
5. Is the style of the lyrics suitable for communicating the Gospel? In other words “street talk”, semi-religious words or catchy clichés etc. that may represent an unscriptural message should not be in cooperated into gospel music. For example words such as “Yaga” and “Jah-Jah” are Rasta chants to Haile Selassie as a god. The word “Babylon” in the Rasta/dub culture represents the police and the established order of things in society. Used in this context it is therefore an anti-social term and should not be associated with the Gospel. The ghetto slang phrase “boo-yah-ka”, boo-yah-ka” refers to lickin’ shot or shooting.

The Bible also says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”(Ecc.3: 1,NIV). Gospel artists ought to avoid any potentially violence-inducing music styles, as well as sensual music grooves and jams, and those sultry voice tones that could confuse the gospel message with other undesirable or out of context activities. The gospel message is not vicious neither is it sexy. The gospel message is one of pure love, joy (not to be confused with revelry) and reverence. Since, as Dr. Clynes’ experiments have shown, there are musical tones that can induce these joyous and reverential emotions, then gospel music should embody those tones. That may mean hard work for the gospel artiste to research, isolate and then use the said kind of tones, but it will be hard work worth the while as it brings out his/her own creativity, and hopefully brings ultimate glory unto God and not to the artiste, as tends to be the case these days in the gospel music arena.
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2004

Divine Healing: Keeping it in Biblical Balance

By Roger Marshall*

A lot of emphasis is being made in Charismatic and Evangelical Church circles on the fact that God is a healer, who can heal every disease, but very little is being said about the Sovereignty of God in this vital Christian doctrine. Instead of being told that God can heal us if it is according to His will, we are being told that God will heal us once we exercise our faith. Yet after being encouraged to exercise all the faith they can muster, and after the binding and loosing of various sicknesses, and decreeing and declaring people to be healed it appears that many Christians in our churches today are still going back into the prayer lines with the same ailments. Interestingly enough why is it that internal and for the most part unobservable diseases/ailments such as arthritis, cancer, tumours, headaches, backaches etc. are the majority of problems being prayed for these days? Why don’t the faith healers decree and declare healing over the more obvious and observable ailments with which some Christians and non-Christians are afflicted, such as multiple sclerosis, or more commonly impaired vision that results in people having to wear glasses etc. What is the reason for the avoidance of praying against these types of diseases? Surely in the early days of Jesus’ and the Apostles ministry people with these kinds of observable diseases would have been healed instantly.

I believe that God is a healer and that He can heal any and every disease, instantly or progressively, if He so wills. The Bible says: “This is the confidence we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5: 14-15; emphasis mine).

However, there are several verses of Scripture that are often quoted out of context to prove that physical healing is guaranteed to us here and now. A few of these verses in question are: Isaiah 53: 4-5; Matthew 8: 17; 1 Peter 2: 24 & 3 John 2.

In context the correct interpretation of Isaiah 53: 4-5 and the correlating verse 1 Peter 2: 24, refers to spiritual healing and not to physical healing. Let’s look at these two texts and see what I mean.

Isa. 53: 5 is structured according to what is known as “Hebrew parallelism”, where the same point is made using different words. For example:
1. “But he was wounded for our transgressions” (this has to do with sins, and is thus spiritual in nature relating to our souls).
2. “He was bruised for our iniquities” (this also has to do with sins, and is thus again spiritual).
3. “The chastisement of our peace was upon him” (this has to do with our peace with God through Jesus’ suffering for our sins. As Romans 5: 1 says: “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus again Isaiah is making the same spiritual point in relation to our sins and our souls reconciliation to God).
4. “And with his stripes we are healed” (If in this last phrase Isaiah now switches from a spiritual theme to a physical theme in relation to healing of our bodies that would not be in keeping with the structure of Hebrew parallelism. The fact is that this phrase is also spiritual and has to do with healing of our souls and not our bodies).

This fact is further made very clear in 1 Peter 2: 24-25 which says: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Thus the healing in view of these passages of Scripture is healing of the sin-sick soul, which is our reconciliation to God after having gone astray (see Isa. 53: 6).

With regard to Matt. 8: 14-17 the context of this passage has to do with the fact that Jesus fulfilled the first clause of Isa. 53: 4 during his healing ministry to the Jews (cf. Matt. 10: 5-8). It is not teaching that all believers are guaranteed physical healing today. It should be noted that Matthew did not quote the entire verse of Isa. 53: 4 due to the fact that the last clause was not fulfilled until Jesus went to the cross where he suffered and died for the healing of our souls which is the theme of verse 5 as I’ve already pointed out. In short the same one who bore the griefs and carried the sorrows of the Jews by healing them of their diseases during his earthly ministry, is the same one who was later “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” He is the same one who was wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities to secure the healing of their souls, a healing which was graciously extended to all people (cf. John 3: 16; 2 Cor. 5: 19). Therefore Matt. 8: 17 is actually about what Jesus did before the atonement which was actually only accomplished by his death on the cross (cf. Rom. 5: 6-11).

As for 3 John 2 this is not a guarantee/command for health or wealth but simply a wish in John’s course of greeting, much like what we do today when we wish other people well in our written correspondence to them.

Finally, the fact that divine healing is not ultimately dependent on our faith but rather is dependent on the sovereign will of God is bourn out by a number of incidents in Scripture. In fact some of the people healed in Scripture did not exercise any faith at all! For example:
1. The lame man at the Temple gate was not expecting healing, he did not ask for healing, he was not earnestly seeking God for his healing, his faith was not involved yet he was miraculously healed (Acts 3: 1-8).
2. The widow of Nain was not expecting the miraculous resurrection of her dead son. Her faith was also not involved yet a mighty miracle occurred (Lk. 7:11-15).
3. Malcus, one of the men who arrested Jesus was healed after Peter cut off his ear. He too was not expecting healing (Lk. 22: 50-51; Jn 18: 10).
4. Lazarus was raised from the dead after four days even though his sisters (Martha in particular) were not exhibiting great faith for this miracle to occur on that day. Martha expected Lazarus’ resurrection to be at the “last day” (Jn. 11: 24), after all Lazarus was dead for four days so this fact alone would have dashed all hopes for an immediate resurrection as far as many Jews were concerned. You see in that time many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body only for three days after death in the hope of returning to it. So if this idea was in the minds of these people, they obviously thought all hope was gone-Lazarus was irrevocably dead (Jn.11:39).

5. This raises the question as to how much faith does it really take for God to act on our behalf. Faith healers often encourage believers to turn loose their faith, muster all the faith they have. However, the Bible says that it only takes a mustard seed amount of faith for God to honour it (Lk. 17: 5-6). The same simple faith that brings salvation also brings healing in accordance with the will of God. Mark 10: 51-52 and Luke 7: 48-50 bears out this fact, in both passages, one dealing with divine healing (Mk. 10) and the other with salvation (Lk. 7), the exact same Greek grammatical structure is used: “he pistis sou sesoken se.” Translated: “…thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mk. 10:52),“Thy faith hath saved thee…”(Lk.7:50).

While the Bible teaches that God honours faith in Him for our healing it also teaches that God is not always obligated to honour that faith for reasons best known to Him and it doesn’t mean that we lack faith or that we are living a life that displeases God.
A classic example of this is Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2Cor. 12; 7-10). While the Bible does not explicitly say what it was it was nevertheless an affliction of some kind yet Paul’s great faith in God could not get it removed.

Other Scriptures that clearly show that God is not obligated to always heal His people are as follows:
1. Out of a multitude of sick folk at the pool of Bethesda Jesus only healed one man (Jn. 5: 1-9).
2. Timothy had frequent stomach related illnesses for which Paul encouraged him to use wine as a medicine to help with his ongoing condition (1Tim.5: 23).
3. Paul left Trophimus, one of his close companions, sick in Miletus (2Tim 4: 20).
4. Epaphroditus another one of Paul’s close companions was sick and nearly died. Paul appeared helpless in the whole ordeal (not powerful like many faith healers today who arrogantly “decree”, “declare” and “speak things into being”) and explained that his companion’s life was only spared because God had mercy on both of them (Ph. 2:25-27).

Nevertheless, the Bible does teach that ultimately healing is guaranteed to our bodies and in fact to all creation because of the atoning work of Christ, but this is to come in the new heaven and earth when sickness and its inevitable end result, death, will be forever banished from existence. That’s when our bodies (and not just our souls as is now the case) will be redeemed (cf. Rom. 8: 18-23; Rev.20: 4).

Is God a healer? He sure is! Does God still miraculously heal today? He sure does! But in accordance with his Sovereign will just as He always has either in the presence of faith or in its absence. The buck does not end at our faith but at God’s sovereign will. God has and reserves the right to grant our earnest requests or refuse our requests for purposes best known to Him, yet always for our good even when we don’t understand (Rom. 8: 28).

In light of these facts lets keep the message of divine healing in Biblical balance.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006

Capital Punishment and The Bible

By Roger Marshall*

Shall mortal man be more just than God?
Shall a man be more pure than his maker? (Job 4: 17).

The ongoing objections to capital punishment and calls for its abolition, coming from several influential quarters in this country and abroad, on the grounds that capital punishment is inhumane and a violation of human rights, raises a fundamental question: can human beings really be more humane than the creator of human life Himself?

It was God (not man) who instituted the death penalty for murder. Genesis chapter nine verses four to five reads: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

It should be noted that capital punishment for murder was ordained in the days of mankind’s ancient progenitor Noah (whose family, as we probably all know, repopulated the earth after the great flood) thousands of years before the unique Mosaic Covenant that was established specifically between God and the Jews. That covenant enunciated other sins that were dealt with as crimes for which the death penalty was also applicable. Those crimes included things such as kidnapping, cursing one’s father or mother, bestiality, idolatry, breaking the Sabbath, adultery, homosexuality, incest, blasphemy etc.

Some time ago during a “Down to Brass Tacks” radio programme the moderator, Mr. David Ellis, cited those other violations of Old Testament law and their accompanying death penalties apparently to lay a charge of inconsistency at the feet of those persons who persistently cite the Bible for the maintenance of capital punishment while on the other hand they ignore the other crimes that also carried that sentence under the Mosaic Covenant. He seemed to suggest that since such persons no longer demand the death penalty for those other Old Testament crimes then their demand for the death penalty for murder would appear to be unjustified. He also seemed to propose the notion held by some in Christendom that the Old Testament doctrine of capital punishment was nullified by the advent of the New Testament with its emphasis on “love and forgiveness.”

While Mr. Ellis’s line of argument may seem reasonable at first glance, the person who is willing to probe the Bible further will find that, although many of the peculiar ordinances of the Mosaic/Siniatic Covenant and their accompanying death penalties (if violated) were superseded by the advent of Jesus Christ (who ushered in the New Testament/Covenant through suffering the ultimate death penalty for all our sins), the universal judicial system of human governance ordained by God back in the days of Noah that included the death penalty for murder, is still applicable even under the New Testament/Covenant.

Jesus himself affirmed this fact when he told Peter (who almost killed a man involved in Jesus’ arrest): “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword”(Matt.26: 52). In this statement Jesus was reaffirming God’s command in Exodus 21: 12 that says, this in itself was a reaffirmation of God’s command to Noah “…Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

The point is God never changed this ordinance. God ordained the death penalty for murder before the Mosaic Covenant, it was also a part of the much harsher Mosaic Covenant itself, and it is still applicable today even under the New Covenant of grace through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reiterated this fact in Romans 13: 1-4.

It is interesting to note that in Judaism, while the Jews recognise themselves as the “people of the covenant”(i.e. the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants) they believe that non-Jews are accountable to God on the basis of the seven commandments given by God to Noah as recorded in Genesis chapter nine, one of which as noted before is the death penalty for murder.

Of course my own line of argument may seem like poppy cock to many in our secular Western world who do not adhere to the Biblical account of human origins but rather embrace the Darwinian/naturalistic evolutionary worldview (which sadly has also penetrated the Church). However, if life is just an accident without purpose and man is only an animal (as the naturalists say) involved in the age-old battle of survival of the fittest then no life (either that of the victim or the criminal) can truly be regarded as a “sacred thing”(as one opponent to capital punishment recently put it) so why the objections to the death penalty? Could it be that the godless philosophy of evolutionary naturalism has so impacted Western culture that even the law itself has now been geared to make sure that the fittest (in this case cold blooded murderers) do survive? That is something to think about.

We need to get back to the Biblical view of origins and purpose that informs us that man is not an animal but rather is created in the image of God. If this is truly the case then God ordained capital punishment for murder should not be abolished.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006

A CLOSER LOOK AT ISLAM

By Roger Marshall*

Jesus said that one of the signs of His return and of the end of the world would be a proliferation of false prophets (Matthew 24:4-11). The apostle John reiterated this fact when he wrote, “ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [i.e. Jesus Christ is God incarnate; cf. St. John 1: 1-3, 14] is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [i.e. the claim that Jesus Christ is not God incarnate] is not of God: and is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4: 1-3).

The religion of Islam which had its birth around AD 622 is just one of the many religious systems which denies that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Today Islam is the world’s fastest growing religions. Many Muslims sight the phenomenal growth rate as “proof” that Islam is the true religion. However, Jesus said that a great following is not ultimate proof that a movement is on the right road. In his own words he said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, ad broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it” (Matt 7: 13-14)

While some of us may know and work either for or with Muslims, who we may find and know to be pleasant people, we shall see that many of these fine people are unfortunately trapped in an extremely antichrist religious system.

The Historical Background

To the Muslim God is “Allah” the most great. According to Dr. Robert Morey in his book Allah: The Moon-god of Pre-Islamic Arabia the word “Allah” comes from the compound Arabic word, al-ilah which means “the god”, and was a reference to the moon god of pre- Islamic Arabia. In those days Allah had three daughters: Al-lat, Al-uzza and Manat. The symbol of the crescent moon which is very important to Islam is a throw back to moon worship of the pre-Islamic Arabians.

Muhammad the prophet of Islam was born in A.D. 570 in Mecca. He was a member of the Quraysh tribe. Their favourite god, out of the 360 gods worshipped by the Arabs, was al-illah (Allah) the moon god.

His prophethood began when he began to teach his fellow tribesmen that they were only to worship Allah and not his three daughters or any other god. This led to hostile resistance from the Meccans. After realising that the Meccans would not convert by peaceful persuasion Muhammad decided to use force beginning with attacks on rich caravans and later a failed attack on the city of Mecca. After his second battle at Mecca a 10year peace treaty was signed between Muhammad and the Meccans. It was during this period that Muhammad committed himself and his followers to spreading Islam not by violence but by peaceful persuasion. This period is reflected in Sura 2:56. However, within one year Muhammad broke the treaty and with an army of thousands of followers he forced Mecca to surrender to his leadership. Those who resisted Islam were slain, those who renounced their former religions were spared and became instant Muslims (cf. Sura 9:5). Thus Islam(“sub-mission to Allah” was born.

Islamic Duties (a.k.a. The Five Pillars of Islam)

i. Kalima or Shahada- The creed of faith, which states, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet/Apostle/Messenger.
ii. Salat-Daily prayers at sun rise, at noon, at mid afternoon, after sunset, and before retiring at night. Also included is Friday Public Service.
iii. The fast of Ramadan- A time of abstinence from food, drink, sex, smoking and other pleasures from sun rise to sunset for one month.
iv. Zakat- Almsgiving.
v. Hajj- The pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime.
vi. Jihad- Holy War. This is a sixth religious obligation which is almost invariably associated with the five pillars of Islam.
The Quran/Koran

The Quran itself claims that it is a continuation of the Bible and it will not
Contradict it (Sura 2: 136). However, this claim does not stand up to close
scrutiny as the following examples show.

The Bible says that God created the world in six day (Gen 1: 1-131, Ex 20:11). The Quran on the other hand says that God created the world in EIGHT days (Sura 41: 9,10,12) cf Sura 32: 4.

The Bible says that all three sons of Noah went into the ark with him and were saved from the flood (Gen. 7: 13). The Quran says that one of the sons refused to go into the ark and was drowned in the flood (Sura 11: 41-43).

The Bible says that the ark came to rest on Mountains of Ararat (Gen 8: 3-4). The Quran says the ark came to rest on Mont Judi (Sura 11: 44)

The Bible says Abraham lived and worshipped in Hebron (Gen 13: 18). The Quran says that he lived in Mecca (Sura 14: 35-37).

The Bible says that it was Isaac whom God instructed Abraham to offer up to him in sacrifice (Gen 22: 1-2) The Quran says that it was Ishmael (Sura 37: 100-112).

The Bible says that it was Potiphar who bought Joseph down in Egypt (Gen 39: 1) The Quran says that it was a man by the name of Aziz who bought him (Sura 12: 21).
The Bible says that it was Pharoah’s daughter who adopted Moses as her son (Ex 2: 5-10). The Quran says that it was Pharoah’s wife who adopted Moses (Sura 28: 8-9).

The Bible says that Jesus was born in a stable (Luke 2: 1-20) The Quran says that he was born under a palm tree (Sura 19: 16,22-27).

The Bible says that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (Luke1: 30-31, 34-35) John 3: 16). The Quran says that God doesn’t have a son (Sura 9: 30). Of course we know by know that Jesus could never be the son of Allah, because Allah is not God!

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified (Matt 27: 33-37), Mk 15: 22-25), Luke 23: 33-34), John 19: 13-19). The Quran says that he as not crucified (Sura 4: 157).

The Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity Matt 28: 19, 2 Pet 1:17. Heb 1:5-8, John 8: 54-58), John 10: 30-33, Acts 5: 1-4. 1 Tim 2:5). The Quran says there is no Trinity (Sura 4: 171).

From these few quotes it is very clear that the Quran is not true in its claim that it will not contradict the Bible.

Self Contradictions

The Quran also contradicts itself in many instances. Two examples are as follows:

Sura 2:56 it says that Islam should not be enforced upon people. Yet in Sura 9: 5, 29 it says that Islam should be enforced upon people by violence.

Sura 4: 157 says that Jesus was not crucified, neither did he die but just ascended into heaven to Allah (Sura 4: 158). However in Sura 19: 27-34 it says that Jesus did die and that he was also resurrected from the dead!

The Quran even contradicts science. In Sura 18: 86 it says that a man by the name of Zul-qarnain was allowed by Allah to discover where the sun sets. He followed it until he found that it sets in a muddy/murky spring.

Thus from these few comparisons we see that the Quran is not true in its claim that it does not contradict God’s word the Bible. We have also seen that Allah cannot be equated with the God of the Bible; therefore Muhammad could not have been the prophet of God.
References

Islam Unveiled, The Islamic Invasion, and Allah: The Moon-god of Pre-Islamic Arabia by Dr. Robert Morey, Islam Revealed by Dr.Anis Shorrosh, An English Interpretation of The Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.

2006