Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The issue of "white privilege" and self-condfidence

"Who are you? You are not [e.g. Carl Trueman]" - Someone

The issue of "white privilege" is treated as the original sin of the radical liberal Left. Insofar as it is ideological, it reads the concept into every interaction between individuals of different ethnicities, particular when one or more of the participants are considered "white." Nevertheless, there is some empirical evidence that would seem to support the concept. But just as in dealing with metanarratives, the argument commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent, in the sense that empirical data that would seem to support Critical Race Theory (CRT) could be legitimately interpreted in another manner to support a different narrative.

What are the empirical evidences that would seem to support "white privilege"? Consider how people of the Caucasian ethnicities are treated differently in places like Singapore. Behavior that are not tolerated if committed by locals are tolerated when whites do it. White theologians like Carl Trueman can criticize other theologians like Bruce Ware and are still treated as godly men, but we know what happens if a Singaporean does the same. White pastors like David Platt promote division in their own church, and yet their books continue to be promoted. Does anyone sincerely think that a Singaporean pastor can get away with what Platt is doing in his own church and also have their books promoted?

These, and many more examples of social interactions that others can provide, seem to show that "white privilege" is alive and well. But I would suggest that the evidences point elsewhere. Specifically, it points to a veneration of whites (a concept most aptly conveyed by the Chinese term 崇洋) by Asians in general coupled with a lack of self-confidence in oneself in comparison to whites. In other words, it is because we do not practice color-blindness but instead make ourselve inferior that "white privilege" comes about. If we have self-confidence, then there is one standard for both whites and non-whites (i.e. color-blindness). If we do not accept such behavior, then it should not matter who commits that behavior. If it is wrong to criticize other Christians, then please go ahead and condemn Carl Trueman et al as schismatics. If you claim that it is wrong for a godly Christian to criticize other Christians, yet exempt these theologians from your judgment, you are a hypocrite!

What is the solution to "white privilege"? Stop treating whites differently from non-whites. Do not treat them as superiors, and do not treat them as inferiors. Treat people with no regard to their skin color and ethnicity, and you would solve the problem immediately. The question is: Will you do it?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Part 5): Induction and the History of Religions

Part 5 of my book review of Yuval Noah Harari's book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is up at the Daily Genevan site, here. In this central part of my review, I point out the main problem with Harari's telling of history, which is the problem of induction. While the problem of induction is minimized in normal historical reconstruction since we can get an appoximation to the truth, looking especially into pre-history erases guide posts that alllow us to make such an approximation, as I argue in the review here.

After demonstrating Harari's problem with induction, I shift to the issue of religions, noting how Harari's view on religion is disrespectful towards all religions, and pays zero heed to what those religions actually say. You can read more about it in the review.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The Sovereignty of God and our emotions

In light of my opposition to Vincent Cheung, I received a feedback concerning this post. Specifically, this sentence was singled out: "We live in a fallen world, not in the realm of God's decrees and sovereign will." How can that sentence make sense if one believes that God is sovereign over the world?

Seen out of context, such a sentence does in fact undermine God's sovereignty. But this sentence has to be read in context. When I use the words "world" and "realm" here, I am not using this to be referring to the world in its cosmological sense. Rather, as it should be seen in context, the focus is on the world as conceptually perceived, the way "world" is used in Thomas Kuhn's analysis in his epistemic anti-realism. We do not live in the conceptual world of the decrees of God, in the sense that all these are hidden from us and are not on us apart from mediation. Since God does work through secondary causes, He is not directly acting on us. In Cheung's theodicy, since God is diretly acting on us, the only response is resignation. Whereas where there are real secondary causes, we can rage aginst the secondary causes while trusting in God the primary cause.

In life therefore, our faith in the sovereign God is meant to instill trust and confidence in our Lord. It is not meant for us to decipher into the mysteries of the sovereign will, to become fatalistic, or to become stoic in our emotions. Cheung's theodicy however fails to do either of these, and thus necessarily leads to fatalism and stoicism.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Why being "apolitical" does not help in Christian discipleship

Christianity as a religion focuses on spiritual things. Christianity is also a worldview that seeks to explain all of life. After all, if the God who created the world and ordered it is the same God who redeems sinners from sin, then it follows logically that all of life and the things in this world must be present in the scheme of God. To relegate Christianity to the private realm, unconcerned with the things of this world, is a denial that God is the God of creation.

That said, Jesus' kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36). The primary focus of Christians should be on the things of God. Thus, while God is the God of creation, our emphasis should be on God as the God of redemption. Herein lies the tension for Christians in this age: On the one hand, we worship the God who is Creator and King. On the other hand, our focus is on God as our redeemer and the one who mandates that in this period of the Gospel Christians ought to be focused on proclaiming the Gospel of salvation from sin. Both are true, and both cannot be denied. Those that focus on the Gospel alone while ignoring creation are inbalanced in their faith, just like those who do not focus on the primacy of the Gospel due to concern over creation. How then should Christians live in this world?

The tension between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of creation, and between the City of God and the City of Man, has occupied pastors and theologians since the beginning of the church. A recent view attributed to Reformed theologian David VanDrunen, the "Two Kingdoms" view, state that God is ruler over both the kingdom of creation and the kingdom of the church, but He does so separately. One implication of this view is that the Church in her assembly ought to be focused on spiritual things and not the things of this world. Activism of all sorts are to be proscribed by the church in her gathering, a corrective to both right-wing and left-wing activism found within American Evangelicalism. In this general sense, the Two Kingdoms view is biblical. Complications arise however when we look at the specifics.

Recently, Baptist theologian Owen Strachan wrote a tweet stating that pastors ought to teach their congregants how to understand the world, and that failure to do so is a failure in Christian discipleship as the sheep will look elsewhere for guidance on these matters. Strachan of course is thinking in terms of social issues like Critical Race Theory, in light of the shocking abandonment of biblical orthodoxy by former YRR (Young, Restless, Reformed) adherents for the mirage of "social justice." Many Evangelical Christians in turn turn to conservative political analysts and Fox News for their catechesis on socio-political issues. It seems clear that many people in the church learn about society and politics not through the lens of Scripture, but through partisan lenses. Now, if one believes that there is such a thing as a Christian worldview, then this fact should be seen as problematic.

In response to this tweet, Brian Onstead has reminded us that pastors are not political pundits. That of course is true, but I am unsure the relevance that has to the original tweet. The focus in on Christian worldview, and the shocking abandonment of the Reformed faith by many New Calvinists for "social justice" shows that they had lacked a biblical worldview. Somehow "Gospel-centered" has devolved into "Gospel-only," and it seems that they learn their sociology and politics from the culture rather than the Scriptures. On the right, the reaction to the Left has reached fever pitch, and it is not helpful to be trained by them in one's worldview, even though they are correct on many matters. Are these not evidenct that the Church ought to disciple her members in the Christian worldview, instead of allowing the culture to teach us about such matters? After all, Strachan is not asking for political activism or guidance from the pulpit, but Christian instruction on such matters.

It is of coure true that there is a category called "wisdom" as one deals with the things of the world. But as opposed to this ivory-tower theologian, it is a fact that calling for wisdom is insufficient to actually ajudicate on a practical level between a biblical theory and an unbiblical theory. This author has seen first-hand how a pastor can agree with biblical doctrines on many things but consistently promotes left-wing social issues as being merely concerned with "social justice," while simultaneously claiming to be apolitical and not interested in doing politics. What is going on here, you might ask? What is happening is that left-wing views have so permeated society that they became seen as the "default" view; it is considered being moderate and "not political" to hold to that particular left-wing view. In other words, the Overton window has shifted so much leftwards that anyone who has not thought through the issues are by default politically left.

In exegesis, "tradition" is the idea that nobody comes to the Bible "just as they are." We all come with preconceived notions and lenses through which we read our Bibles. The one who is uncritical about that and who claims no tradition is often the one so bound by tradition that he is blind to it. Likewise, the one who does not recognize that they have a default inchoate "sociopolitical theory" are the ones that are most blind to their own political biases. That is why Strachan's call for biblical discipleship in this area resonates with me, not because Christians ought to be political or to be partisan, but because most Christians are not taught how to think through these matters from a biblical perspective. Wisdom is of course necessary, but calling for wisdom without showing how wisdom is seen is like the man who knows he needs food but is unable to recognize food from poison.

It is of course correct to desire to be apolitical, since the kingdom of grace is not of this world. But desiring to be apolitical is not the same as BEING apolitical. Ironically, one has to be educated on socio-political issues from a Christian worldview in order to be apolitical. Just as knowing one's tradition helps one to better interpret the Bible from a more objective standpoint, likewise knowing the Christian worldview on political matters helps one to be properly apolitical. Without such education, one can call for all the "wisdom" one desires, but there is no escaping the forces that have swallowed up people like Christina Edmonson, Jemar Tisby, and the others who have fallen away from biblical Christianity.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The social liberalism of David French

David French, once a conservative, has shifted ever leftward. That is less of an issue if the leftward movement was on issues that Scripture does not explicitly address. However, in his attack piece on the "new right" over their "embrace" of Hungary, he took positions contrary to Scripture, and thus showed that he has shifted towards being more theologically liberal. Hungary of course is not immune to criticism, and this piece should not be construed to taking any position on Hungary. The focus here rather is on French and the values he shows in his attack piece.

The key passaage from French's attack piece lies here:

The regime doesn’t recognize gay marriage. Only heterosexual couples may adopt. And the regime just passed a law sharply limiting any promotion of homosexuality or gender transition to children. He has banned gender studies programs at Hungarian universities

Besides the banning of gender studies programs (a conntroversial issue), all the other policies would be uncontroversial in America in the 1990s. Notice how French thinks that all these are normal for what he holds to be his "conservative" viewpoint. Nevermind that all these are considered abominations by Scripture; evidently having biblical morality is considered to be merely engaged in the "culture wars" which of course is reprehensible. So French evidently thinks that having biblical morality is part of the "new right" and to partake of the taint of authoritarianism.

This is of course part of the problem with the so-called "culture wars." The Overton Window has shifted so much that what was considered normal and acceptable in social discourse is now considered to be part of the "far-right" or "new right" or whatever nonsense the real culture warriors of the left have come up with. French's liberalism is as much a fact as well as a sad indictment over the state of spirituality in America. In any society where biblical morality is taken as a norm, French would be considered a left liberal for his abandonment of biblical morality, and treated as such by society.

Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Part 4): Neanderthals and Harari's misinterpretation of Scripture

Here is Part 4 of my review of Yuvah Noah Harari's book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Once again, we look at Harari's views, this time concerning human evolution as it regards the Neanderthals. As we go deeper towards the main problem with Harari's narratives, I took a short detour and deal with Harari's misinterpretation of Scripture. Harari, being a non-Christian, is of course free to reject Christianity. He is not however free to misinterpret Scripture to say what he wants it to say.

The key point here is that Harari is not quite the vaunted historian or scholar others paint him out to be. A good historian will not make elementary errors on the history of science. A good scholar will not make elementary errors in the interpretation of the Christian Scriptures. We will continue further in further installments of the review.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Book Review: Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind (Part 3): History of Primeval human development - Preliminary Concerns

Primeval human history is an interesting topic, intersting particularly as it is a topic with a comparative paucity of evidence. In Part 3 of the review, I note some preliminary concerns I have on Yuvah Noah Harari's take on primeval human history, which can be read here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

David French and the fiction of systemic racism

David French, once a conservative, has drifted towards a more liberal position due to TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrone). In an article on The Dispatch, French sought to argue that "systemic racism" is reality and not wokeness. French of course charge the critics of systemic racism with being "biblically and historically wrong." On the part of history, what French says is nothing more than the liberal idea of "racism without actual racists." There is nothing new under the sun that French brings to the table, and what he says is no different from critical race theory. No doubt racial disparities do exist, but to claim that it is always due to racism is ridiculous. Again, racism without actual racists. It is thus French who is historically wrong, since to prove the charge of racism as defined historically, there must be actual racists involved.

More egregious is French's eisegesis of Scripture, distorting what it says in order to prop up the lie of systemic racism. French appeals to the episode of the Gideonites whom King Saul had persecuted, thus resulting in famine in the land. In 2 Samuel 21, the restitution for Saul's murder of the Gibeonites was to hand seven sons of King Saul over to be killed by the Gibeonites. On the surface, French's reading seems plausible. The Gibeonites were systematically annihilated, and even after one generation, God demanded restitution for the crime. Surely that proves that one can have systemic sin, does it not, where the "innocent" sons of Saul have to pay for their father's sin?

The problem with this reading of Scripture is that it ignores what the real crime of King Saul was. Why was the account of the Gibeonites included in the Scriptures in 2 Samuel 21 but not the other peoples Saul had probably killed? The reason why is seen in the relation the Gibeonites had with Israel, as narrated to us in Joshua 9. Gibeon had tricked Israel into forming a covenant between the two peoples. The covenant was made with God as a witness, thus Israel was unable to put them to the sword. The covenant made between Israel and Gibeon had a binding effect all the way down through the centuries. Saul's massacre of the Gibeonites was a violation of the covenant made with God as the witness. Therefore, Saul and his descendents have to pay for their violation of that covenant.

When one actually reads Scripture properly in context, it can be seen that the issue with the Gibeonites was not systemic sin, but rather covenant violation. The covenant curse inflicted by God through the famine has nothing to do with "systemic sin," or "sin without sinners" (since Saul was already dead), but rather the enforcing of treaty violations by God. The right analogy of the Gibeonites is not to "systemic racism," but rather present treaty violations between countries. The right lesson is that God will punish the breaking of covenants, not that God teaches systemic sin of any kind. This applies to all the other examples of confessing "ancestral sin," which was not confessing that one is culpable for the father's sins, but rather that one assumes the covenant responsibilities and guilt of the Mosaic Covenant.

In his hatred of Trump, David French has jetissoned his credability and join in the distortion of Scripture by the woke crowd. Contrary to what David French says, Structural Racism is unbiblical and unhistorical. French's tarring of this as "right-wing" is slander. His distortion of Scripture is sad, and may God lead him to repentance for distorting His Word.

[ADD: French doubled down on his defense of systemic racism here. He does this by (1) ignoring Scripture, and (2) retreating to the more defensive position that institutions do sin and institutions that sin must make restitutions. Note however that French is engaging in bait-and-switch, or the motte-and-bailey fallacy. NOBODY denies that institutions do sin and institutions that sin must make restitutions. "Systemic racism" is not the same as saying there are racist systems and institutions. "Systemic racism" states that racism is so prevalent that all institutions are involved in racism (even if they do not seem racist) unless they are actively "anti-racist." French thinks his audience are morons that have zero critical thinking skills, and sadly, he might be right.]

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Book Review: Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind (Part 2: History of Science)

What do the progressive globalists believe as it relate to science? Through an examination of Yuval Noah Harari's book Sapiens, I continue to explore the supposed history of humankind, as it relates here to the history of science here.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

British Equalities Minister on the term "white privilege"

When it comes to secular matters, God has given humanity wisdom, expresed in common sense for those who still have their rational faculties working intact. Critical Race Theory, with its Gnostic idea of "critically" seeing things that nobody has ever seen before, is contrary to common sense. Thus, in the British Telegraph newspaper, we see an article about why the term "white privilege" is careless and divisive. It is obvious to anyone with common sense that the worst way to deal with racism is to make people focus on race and what each race is either entitled to or guilty of. From the article by Kemi Badenoch:

The phrase “white privilege” is unnecessarily antagonistic. Much as some theorists think it is essential for tackling racism, there is an active and fairly toxic political debate around it.

Ditto for the term "Chinese privilege," or any "X privilege" anyone can think of. You may read the article here.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Book Review: Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind (Part 1)

In collaboration with Rev. Shane Anderson, the first installment of my review of Yuval Noah Harari's book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has been posted at the Daily Genevan here.

Friday, June 04, 2021

The main lies Justin Gibony of TGC tells us about Racism and Critical Race Theory

Over at TGC (The Gospel Corporation), Justin Gibony did a video on the lies that serve American Christians. While he is right in pointing out that racism was a terrible blight in American Christianity, and he is right that we should not have a knee jerk reaction against any call for "racial justice," the problem is that his presentation itself has two major lies within it.

4 minutes into the video, Gibony states that it is false that "[racism] existed so long ago that it couldn't possibly still linger in our system and institutions" (04:30-7), and later he says that "Today many are using the threat of Marxism as pretext to avoid reckoning with the church's race problem. They are conflating biblical sound pleas for justice with clear distortion" (08:06-20). Taken on a superficial level, it is true that the effects of racism can still linger in America, and that it is also true that many could be using the threat of Marxism to avoid the issue of racism. However, that is not exactly what he had said. The claim is not that the effects of racism is present in America. The claim is that racism (not just its effects) is still present today in the American system and institutions. This is where Gibony embraced the falsehood of "systemic racism," where any actions that negatively affects someone of a minority race is taken as prima facie evidence of such "systemic racism." To be fair, Gibony lists down some racist events in America history, but note they last until the 1960s or at worst 70s. Guess what year is it today? 2021. If we take the year 1970, that is a time gap of 51 years, and 51 years is 2 generations. In other words, what Gibony is saying is that racism is still present BECAUSE racism was present TWO generations ago. Does that even sound rational to anyone not in the woke movement? So the sins of the father are to be visited on the grandson? Someone needs to read up Ezekiel 18 to see what God thinks about this kind of "justice"!

Next, the claim that many are using Marxism as pretext to avoid talking about race might be true. However, how does anyone know that? Absent reading the heart, that is impossible to know. What is possible to know is that Gibony sees that the church has a "race problem." Now, it is not to be denied that people in churches can and do struggle with racism. But to state that there is truly a "race problem" in the church implies that this "race problem" is pervasive throughout the churches, and especially "white churches." In other words, it is the issue of "systemic racism" again. So if there is this pervasive "race problem" in the church, where is the proof? Where is the smoking gun? Instead, what is happening is that reactions against calls for "racial reconciliation" by black racists like Jemar Tisby are rejected, and such rejections are taken as proof that the church has a "race problem"?! Why not think that the rejection of such calls is because we actually reject racists even when they have black skin? Now, I do not know whether such is the case, but Gibony has not given us any example of the church's "race problem" so I will just speculate as to what it is.

Speaking of the church's "race problem," if the fact that historically white churches are not diverse enough, then what are we to make of all ethnic churches? Is someone going to condemn black churces for not being diverse enough and include more whites and Asian and others? Who is going to condemn Korean churches for not being inclusive of non-Koreans, or Chinese churches of not being inclusive of non-Chinese? While I do agree that historically white churches should be welcoming to all ethnicities, the hypocrisy regarding TGC stands. Gibony states that we must reject lies, so perhaps he will give some of his air time to condemn all mono-ethnic churches including the black church for not being diverse enough?

In conclusion, I agree with Gibony that Christians can tell lies that serve their own interests. I happen to think however that Gibony needs to heed his own advice. Stop lying about systemic racism and be a truthful Christian. True racial reconciliation is done through actual reconciliation, not lies about racism and fellow Christians.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Voddie Baucham on rhetoric and the eleventh commandment

Gone are the days of Luther and Erasmus slugging it out over the question of original sin. Today both men would be accused of being petty (for daring to split hairs over such theological minutia), mean-spirited (for daring to speak so forcefully in favor of their own position and against the other’s), and downright un-Christlike (for throwing around the word “heresy”). I have often said, “The Eleventh Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt be nice’ … and we don’t believe the other ten.” (Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Faultlines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe , 132)

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The sexual revolution and divorce

We cannot blithely accept no-fault divorce (in which we are too often willing participants), for example, and then complain that Obergefell redefined marriage. (Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Freedom, pp. 389-90)

Just as liberal theology was present prior to rank apostasy, so likewise the seeds of destruction of family and sexuality were planted prior to the embrace of "homosexual marraiges." In this one sentence, Trueman rightly pointed out one major way in which many professing Christians have already compromised on the topic of sexuality - that of no-fault divorce. I would like to venture further than Trueman here though. Christians who have compromised on the issue of divorce by allowing for divorce on reasons others than what God allows, and churches that allow for such divorces, are complicit in evil and plant the seeds of destruction in their lives, churches, and societies.

God is very clear on marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life. In unambiguous terms, Jesus in Matthew 19:1-12 states what marriage is and, alongside Romans 7:1-3, gives the only reasons for divorce. Divorce is only permitted upon adultery and desertion amounting to death. Abuse is not mentioned in the Bible, even though many husbands in biblical times have abused their wives. Thus, abuse can only be legitimate if is reaches the level of desertion, and that's all. All the other reasons normally given for divorce (non-reconciliable disagreement, unable to trust etc.) are NOT legitimate reasons for biblical divorce, ever.

In response to Jesus' teaching, we must remember the disciples' astonishment as they exclaimed, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (v. 10). Now, if Jesus did in fact allow for divorce because of those other reasons, the disciples would not have been startled by Jesus' teaching, would they? But the disciples clearly understood how strict Jesus' teaching was on divorce, where basically only extreme sins against the marital bond would break it.

In this light, it is a sad reality that professing Evangelicals do not abide by Jesus' teachings on the matter. And even when the church formally teaches it, it is not practised and enforced. Whether a churche truly believes in biblical marriage and divorce is not seen in her teaching on the matter but on whether she actually acts on those teachings. If a professing Christian couple in the church divorces for unbiblical reasons, the church must put them under church discipline until they either repent, or they are excommunicated (c.f. 1 Cor. 5:1-5, 9-13). To not do so because of other reasons that the Scriptures do not sanction is to violate Scripture. And where appeal is made to their supposed contrition, that church has caved into the therapeutic mentality that saturates modern culture instead of following what Scripture commands. A truly contrite person will repent of his or her sins, and turn back to what God has commanded in Scripture. The idea that one can be "contrite" yet continue in disobedience to God is a contradiction in terms (c.f. Jas 2:14-26). And lastly, to resort to the "Gospel" as a way to excuse sin is basically licentiousness, and woe to those who misuse the grace of God to tolerate wickedness (Gal. 5:13-14; Mt. 6:23).

Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17). As the sexual revolution destroys the world, let us move fast in the opposite direction. Christians are to not just reject sexual deviancy, but also to reject unbiblical notions of marriage. As the darkness grows, our lights need to shine brighter, and show people the way to the truth and the life.

Monday, March 01, 2021

On abuse and the responses to the Ravi Zacharias scandal

In light of the Ravi Zacharias scandal and the responses to that scandal from within Evangelicalism, I would like to offer this article as a way to think more about the issue of abuse and Evangelicalism's failure to deal with abuse. An excerpt:

The Ravi Zacharias scandal rocked Evangelicalism, since Zacharias was a prominent Evangelical apologist until his death in 2020. In response to the scandal, Evangelicals reacted with sorrow and grief over the wickedness of Zacharias’ sins. The more common refrain from many leaders however is some variant of “there but for the grace of God go I,” as seen in Michael Brown’s article, and reposted on Charisma News, a leading news source for Charismatics. While they sorrow over the victims of sins, the focus is on “not throwing stones” and empathizing with Ravi Zacharias to some extent. The most egregious piece here can be found in Singapore by Rev. Edmund Chan of CEFC (Covenant Evangelical Free Church), who ended his note with a confidence that Ravi Zacharias is indeed in heaven now, an article which epitomizes a major problem within Evangelicalism