Why Doesn't God Just Forgive People? Why the Need to Receive it by Faith?

Pardon that is neither recognized by the pardoned nor acknowledged as such by the same adds to the prevalence of injustice.

To say "I have been pardoned" is to acknowledge the authority of the Pardoner, the condemnation of self in sin, and the total surrender to the mercy of the Lord. 

To say "I have been pardoned" also means to acknowledge that the Pardoner (being the Ultimate Authority) has incurred the cost of the pardon. 

Unsolicited pardon is an aggravation of injustice and evil.

If it were not for the Mediator, the High Priest, there would not have been intercession for the sins of the world; for the flesh is at enmity with the Law of God and would not acknowledge it.

The intercessor must provide the price for appeasement of justice.

Pardon must be received in order to be restored and reconciled.

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The Man and the Message in a Post-Postmodern World

 It was the case in the OT that the prophet was the message. His very life (that included his family) bore the burden of the message. That unity somehow gets split in a post-postmodern world of clicks, likes, selfies masquerade. 

I sadly reflect on those who are "forced" by the socio-religio-political system to assume a multi-face,- confusing themselves and the world. It is even more saddening when one face that seems to carry the message of inner-outer unity suddenly is revealed to be a mask and the unveiled real beneath it is a thorough mess.



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Christmas Made the Greatest of Sins Finally Possible for Man



Some people ask why God allows evil in the world; the fact is that He allowed the greatest of all evils ever possible - the murder of God, evil against Himself. That is the tragedy of the Cross; but, that is the reality as well of His goodness. He allowed Himself to be utterly and thoroughly rejected, so that He could embrace us in that pit of sin. How can we forget that at this Christmas!

The very fact that He chose to be born into the most vulnerable situation speaks against all human confidence in human virtue.

Through the Virgin Birth,
He exposed Himself to social rejection and possible illegitimization!

Through the Star of Bethlehem,
He exposed Himself to political violence and possible murder!

Through His deeds and words,
He exposed Himself to religious hatred and possible abandonment by all friends!

Through His love for His disciples,
He exposed Himself to the most insidious betrayal!

Through His silence at His trial,
He exposed Himself to the worst intentions of violent men!

To misunderstandings, hatred, conspiracies, and the murder of God....

But,
Joseph was a good and God-fearing man and he took Him in, violating social mores.
The Magi listened to the angel and disobeyed Herod's phobic dictate.
John remained by His side and at His foot to the end, staying true to Love.
He prayed the Father to forgive those who sinned against Him for doing it in ignorance.

Meaning... there is no respite when the MURDER is truly intentional....

Evil exists,
Good exists,
God died as a man
God lives as the Son of Man!

And, He shall come in clouds of glory
And, Evil shall not exist!


Also See:

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Proverbs 2:16-18 - The Adulteress

 Prov 2:16 To deliver you from the immoral woman, From the seductress [who] flatters with her words,
 Prov 2:17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God.

"the covenant" 

Gill thought that "the covenant" here did not refer to Noah's covenant nor to Moses' covenant, but to the marriage act of covenant itself. But, it seems to me best to also relate it to the seventh commandment - Thou shalt not commit adultery - for the following reasons:

  1. The woman is part of the covenant people and violation of the seventh commandment is violation of God's covenant
  2. This is neither her covenant nor her husband's but God's. She forgets the impermissibility of divorce/forsaking within the covenant membership of God. 
  3. This "forsaking" as adultery is elaborated by Christ: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Luke 16:18)
  4. Thus, this "immoral woman" is not necessarily a prostitute. She might just be someone else' wife, an adulteress who has no respect for the covenantal law.
  5. The violation of the marital covenant (Ezek 16:8; Ezek 16:59; Ezek 16:60; Mal 2:14-16) is also a violation of God's covenant for the same reason.
  6. Thus, the adulteress in the Jewish setting is not merely violating her marital covenant, but also violating the covenant of God that requires her to be faithful to her spouse.

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US Elections and the Fight for Democracy

It doesn't seem that the US people have lost faith in democracy. It appears distinctly that a great number of them do not trust (a) mail-in ballots and (b) machines. Whether this public call get respect from the judiciary is the question. Ultimately, people must not lose faith in the judiciary; for where the measuring limb of the government is compromised, injustice prevails and people return to a state of nature...
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SOLVED: Webex Webcam video doesn't go through

 If you find that your video appears on your screen, but other participants inform you that your video doesn't appear, then try unchecking the Hardware Acceleration for Video. 

  • Go to Audio & Video in the meeting screen
  • Select Camera and then Advanced Settings
  • Uncheck Hardware Acceleration for Video

If the webcam is not functioning at all, you may need to perhaps 

  • Check if the camera is connected (if external)
  • Check if it is working in other apps
  • Update the drivers.

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Lichtman's Predictions, Benford's Law, and Voter Fraud

Quick reflections:

While some are turning to "prophets" and "prophecies" for some clue or answer (Nostradamus included), other's are turning to science (or quasi-science) and maths. Prof. Lichtman's prediction that Biden would win seems almost to have come true, while some are now turning to Benford's Law for forensic evidence to whether voter fraud has really occurred. 

But, how fool-proof are any of these?

  1. Not all "prophecies" can be 100% true for we see through a dark glass as Apostle Paul said. That also can mean that prophetic consonance cannot be treated as proof.
  2. Lichtman's prediction assumes a pattern of mass psychology and behavior. But, does it appropriately incorporate factors such as fraud and mediacracy? Needs check. 
  3. Benford's Law proves successful in detecting fraud in several areas; however, experts are skeptical if it applies to election results due to population variances involved. At the same time, application of the mathematical law to human decision-making raises the issue of freewill and determination. 
  4. Some have also turned to answer in the stars (astrology). It seems to them to be quite mathematical and deterministic. But, that raises even more complicated questions as to how historical events can be causally connected with starry movements. [The Magi saw a star and followed it to Bethlehem; but, the star did not cause the birth of Christ - that's the difference].

Ref:
Deckert, Joseph, et al. “Benford's Law and the Detection of Election Fraud.” Political Analysis, vol. 19, no. 3, 2011, pp. 245–268. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23011436. Accessed 11 Nov. 2020.

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Democracy Should Refuse to be Overrun by Mediacracy

Tweets, likes, and shares

Brainwashing masses unawares

As post-postmodernity thrives

On virtual reality vibes.


They feared effect-domino

During the Cold-war you know?

Now, they begin to realize

That anybody can believe in lies.


Where mediacracy reigns

Through ideocracy's reins,

Democracy is shamed

And, liberty is baned.


Democracy should refuse to be overrun by mediacracy.


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Voter Fraud: What are the counter-arguments and Could the Premises be Wrong?

 


As the US elections 2020 wraps up, allegations of voter fraud are being raised by the GOP. A number of defensive arguments use the following premises:

  1. Voter fraud rarely happens (historical evidence)
  2. The instances are so low that they cannot affect the election outcomes (historical evidence)
  3. The cost of committing the fraud outweighs the benefit from it that people would avoid it (tight laws, time-consuming procedures - psychological evidence)
  4. Biden got more mail-in votes because he encouraged it as part of the social-distancing commitment. Trump didn't do that so got what the walk-ins could bring. (logical evidence)
Concerns:
  • Just because it happened rarely in the past cannot guarantee it cannot happen massively in the future
  • If the benefit could be greater and the act made securer through loop-hole exploitation and strategic coordination, why wouldn't massive and systemic power-abuse become possible?
  • How is it possible that all or almost all of mail-in ballots favored the same party?

Let' see if the US is able to assure the world that its elections have been totally corruption-free.

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Zoom Teaching and Cameras Off

 

from Zoom blog

Educational institutions have turned to Zoom, WebEx, Teams and several other applications to keep teaching alive amidst this raging pandemic. Teachers are now contending with a new problem: classroom without eye-contact (as students usually prefer to turn their cameras off). Though it might pose an increased challenge to the teacher, I don't think it poses any problem to the student, unless s/he has got distracted with other things in her/his surrounding. That could be resolved by revisiting the class video, in case it was recorded. Where class attendance is not mandatory, the very fact that a student is attending the online class is a positive factor - which assures of at least some 30-60% of attention (adjusted to mind-wandering every now and then). Participation and learning experience can be enhanced by quizzes, google docs team work, games, and other interesting activities. I suspect if breakout rooms will efficiently work without someone with a leader role in the room. 

Respect for all the teachers around the world who are innovating and coming up with new ideas and strategies to enhance the teaching-learning experience.

If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment.

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Practical-Logical Anomaly in the Pro-Choice Argument

 Pro-Life Protestors (wiki)

The Pro-Choice argument usually goes something like this:

(a) The fetus at or before a certain point is not a human invested with human rights (is subhuman)

(b) Therefore, abortion at or before that point is not an ethical question

(c) At that point, the mother has the priority of right to decide whether to keep or abort the pregnancy

Problematic Case: In India, abortion is illegal, so is determination of sex by ultrasound, especially due to the high risk of female feticide.

Moral Logic: Abortion on the basis of sex determination is evil. (which can be determined as early as 7 weeks)


Anomaly: How can it be evil if the fetus is subhuman? OR How can a human/female rights issue apply to the fetus? 


Possible response: Abortion based on sex determination violates not the ethics of life, but the ethics of sexual equality.


Counter: How can equality be possible without life in the first place?


Conclusion: The Pro-Choice argument suffers from practical-logical inconsistency

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LIVE TALK: ANSWERING COVID-19 QUESTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY


APOLOGETICS DISCUSSION ON CHRISTIAN RESPONSES TO COVID-19

TOPIC: Intelligent Design VS Irrational Disease?
Join Dr. Mark Boone, Rev. Luther Li,Dr. (Sr.) Mudita Sodder, Dr. Joseph Hiwale, Bro. Keneth Pervaiz, Dr. Domenic Marbaniang, and Dr. J. B. Jeyaraj on a Live Conversation on Covid-19 questions for Christianity that rage across the globe.

Posted by Faith and Philosophy on Friday, August 28, 2020
Moderator: Dr. Domenic Marbaniang
Panelists:
Dr. Mark J. Boone (Hong Kong Baptist University)
Rev. Luther Li (Emmanuel Christian Church)
Dr. (Sr.) Mudita Sodder (RSCJ, Sophia College, Fellowship of Indian Missiologists)
Bishop Dr. Joseph Hiwale (Koinonia College of Theology, Koinonia Church Fellowship)
Bro. Keneth Pervaiz (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Dr. Domenic Marbaniang (Hong Kong Baptist University)
Dr. J. B. Jeyaraj (Jubilee Institute)

QUESTIONS:
1. Did God create malevolent viruses?
2. Should we consider COVID-19 as God's judgment of international sin in the world?
3. What does the Bible say about suffering from natural causes?
4. Are Christians immune to the virus, provided they have "strong faith"?
5. What does God expect of Christians in the midst of such a crisis as the present one?
6. Should Christians regard laws forbidding public worship at churches (though not shutting down supermarkets) as a problem of "obeying God or man"? How do Catholics and Protestants respond to this?
7. In a preface to a book, Pope Francis wrote: "“The presence of the Risen Lord in His Word and through the celebration of the Eucharist will give us the strength we need to resolve the difficulties and challenges that we will face after the coronavirus crisis.” Yes, but if Christ is risen, why do Christians need to go through suffering? Is Christian hope only about the hereafter or the coming world? How do we experience Christ's resurrection power in this life?
8. N.T. Wright has written a book "God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath". He explains that when natural disaster hit the early church, they didn't ask theological questions but focused on collecting and sending help to the ones in need. How would you comment on that?
9. There are many ways in which Churches have gone online (Zoom, Google Meet, Livecast, FB streaming, etc). How do explain its theological significance in light of the New Testament?
10. How can a pastor fulfill his pastoring ministry during a lockdown situation?

POST-SCRIPT:
Cremation of bodies by government. What does the Bible say about funeral and resurrection?
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India Apologetics Conference 2020

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HAPPY RESURRECTION CELEBRATION

Love, crucified by Hate,
Has broken Hades' Gates
And, vanquishing Hatred,
Now pronounces us Sacred,
Our darkest sins forgiven
Our dead spirits enlivened
To life born from above
Dead to Hatred, Alive to Love!

HAPPY RESURRECTION CELEBRATION!

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Is COVID-19 a God-sent Pandemic or is it Man-created? Does it signify the end of the world?

Based on a literal interpretation of prophecy (which has more credence) and based on direct evidence of the historical narratives in the Bible (which make the question even worthwhile), the following observations may be inferred:

1. COVID-19 pandemic is not a God-sent apocalyptic plague. All evidence shows that it is a man-made pandemic. It began at a wet market in Wuhan, now identified as 'ground-zero' of the virus' first impact. The Torah lists out some food restrictions for the Jewish community, which are today considered as being crucial for prevention of plague-inducing conditions for those times when scientific understanding was not highly advanced. If the Jewish community had violated the restrictions and contracted a disease that turned into an epidemic wiping off a large portion of its populace, that epidemic would be considered as a consequence of negligence and not a direct God-sent pestilence.

There were many human-created conditions that escalated the spread of the virus. The failure to understand the severity of the situation and attempts to quash information by Chinese authorities. Downplaying of the contagious and fatal nature of the virus by WHO. Countries that failed to take early preventive action and or to impose targeted lock-downs. Various groups that ignored preventive guidance to maintain distancing.... all these indicate human tactical failures that caused the pandemic.

2. The Bible does talk of God-sent judgement. One of the ways God judges nations is through pestilence (others being war and natural disasters, Jer.24:10). But, if God sends a judgement, humans can neither control it nor fight against it. Remember the Egyptian plagues, the Wilderness plagues, and the plague during David's census. In each of these cases, there was also a prophetic message strongly attached. We have the prophetic message now clearly revealed in Scripture. The book of Revelation tells us that when God's wrath really comes on the earth, "In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will escape them." (Rev.9:6). They will try to flee and hide and will say to the mountains: "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" (Rev.6:16).

3. A literal interpretation of prophecy puts Israel in global focus before the coming of the Great Wrath.

4. It also predicts that the anti-Christ, his false prophet, and his false religion would attempt at a totalitarian world domination prior to the Great Wrath.

5. However, it is certainly the case that COVID-19 presents the world with a novel situation of a situation post-Babel where linguistic, cultural, and economic barriers are eased through the process of globalization and rapid communication. It does create an emergency situation very conducive for events foretold regarding the end days. It also has shaken the church to wake up from its slumbering position and to look up. The church will also not be the same again.


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Comparative Table of Genitive Suffixes Examples in Greek, Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Khasi



GREEK
SANSKRIT
HINDI
PUNJABI
TELUGU
KHASI
ου, ίας, ων
अस्य, अयोह, अनाम; :, ओ:, अनाम      
का, की, के  
ਦਾ, ਦੀ, ਦੇ
డి, అ,  యొక్క,
Jong
ou, ias, on
asya, ayoh, anam; ah, oh, anam
ka, ki, ke
da, di, de
di, a,
yokka
Jong


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QA: Christian Ethics: Homosexuality

Q. Isn’t the Bible patriarchally prejudiced, therefore, towards homosexuals?
Ans. The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is not patriarchally based. It is based on the creational nature of sexuality. Sexuality is essentially procreative and sexual attraction has an affectionate dimension that is essentially related to the procreative function. Sexual love is not the same as friendly love or parental love. It is not matriarchal to say that a woman must not have sex with woman in the same way as it is not patriarchal to say that sex between two men is a fundamental aberration. Homosexuality is wrong because it severs desire from its natural directive/objective and grants it autonomy; in other words, it let’s desire lead.

Q. Paul in Romans 1, 1Corinthians 6, and 1Timothy 1 is referring to nonconsensual homosexual practices between older men and constrained young boys or slaves. It doesn’t refer to homosexuality in the modern sense, right?
Ans. Paul is not referring to rape or sexual exploitation, but is explicitly referring to homosexuality that was primarily consensual. The Greek term ἀλλήλους used in Romans 1:27 and translated as “one another” in the statement “they burned in their lust for one another” is a reciprocal pronoun and a masculine accusative plural. Paul is not talking about immoral acts committed against the will of others but is talking about people who reject God and let their “vile passions” (πάθη) lead them (Rom.1:26).

Q. Isn’t the acceptance of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 affirmative of God’s acceptance of homosexuality?
Ans. It is only affirmative of God’s acceptance of eunuchs through Jesus Christ who were originally castrated individuals and not allowed to serve in the Tabernacle. There is no basis for associating that particular Eunuch with transgenderism or with homosexuality. There are some who theorize that homosexuals might have been chosen to take care of royal harems, but that is a mere hypothesis. Nevertheless, God’s arms are open to all sinners, including homosexuals provided they repent of their sins. God loves the homosexual (who is a person), but God hates homosexuality (which is a sin). The baptism symbolized the Eunuch’s repentance from sin towards God.

Q. Is it wrong to have romantic feelings for a member of the same-sex?
Ans. It is wrong to nurture the feelings instead of rejecting them. That is true also for adulterous feelings towards a member of the opposite sex.

Q. Then, why does someone have those feelings? Aren’t they God-given?
Ans. It is like saying that if someone has adulterous feelings, they must be God-given; or worse, if someone has paedophilic feelings, they must be God-given. That is judicially irrational and morally confusing. If every feeling comes from God, then moral freedom and moral decision becomes unreasonable. If that were true then, ultimately nothing would be wrong.

Q. But, same-sex attraction is inborn and is not the same as those other forms of desires. One is born that way.
Ans. That needs to be established. There is, presently, no scientific evidence for the born-that-way argument. But, even if it is claimed that there is such evidence (based on empirical studies, which are open to falsification by other studies), the biblical injunction in this matter is clear. Homosexual acts are morally condemned in the Bible, which implies that the Bible regards them as willful choices. If something were “natural”, condemnation of it would be unnatural and false. Since the Bible condemns homosexual act, it cannot be a “natural” act but is as Romans 1 calls it, “unnatural” act.

Q. But, isn’t that begging the question?
Ans. That the presence of smoke implies there must be fire is not begging the question.

Q. You referred to paedophilic feelings. But these are not the same as homosexual feelings. Sex with a child is never consensual, but homosexual acts usually are consensual.
And. I have also referred to adulterous feelings. Adultery is wrong even if consensual.

Q. There was no concept of same-sex marriage in the biblical times, so the writers only wrote with reference to prevailing marriage customs. If same-sex marriage were common, they would not oppose homosexuality.
And. The right way to say would be that same-sex marriage was not common because biblical law forbade same-sex relationships. Today, same-sex marriage is accepted where biblical authority is nullified.

Q. But there are Christian churches that are are gay-friendly and advocate equality.
And. There were various kinds of churches in biblical times that were totally opposed to apostolic teaching. There were also synagogues of Satan.

Q. Isn't that discrimination against a minority group?
And. What is the discrimination?

Q. Homosexuals are regarded as sinners in the same category with thieves and murderers.
And. We are called to respect all fellow humans without any discrimination. However, this does not mean that we fail to distinguish between morally right and wrong behaviors. The Bible does condemn homosexuality as sin. The church is open to all and there is transformation power in Jesus for all who confess their sins and turn to God. But, if someone denies sin as sin, the Bible cannot change for their sake. The moral law is a priori and thus immutable. We are called to love everyone but are also called to rebuke and expose sin.

Q. Homosexuals are as normal as anyone else. They are not deviant people. Their romance life is the same as that of heterosexuals. They are kind and good people.
Ans. Homosexuals are not more sinful than other people who are also sinners but look very normal, intelligent, and good. It is the idea that homosexuals are psychologically "sick" that is behind the view that homosexuals are regarded as abnormal. The Bible doesn't regard them as less normal than other people who are all sinners. However, it does say that all who have turned away from God became debased in mind. (Rom.1:21-22)

Q. If a Christian has same-sex attraction and can't help it, what should he or she do?
And. The Bible promises that with every temptation, there is also a way out. But the starting point is to recognize that homosexuality is sin. The feelings are not sin, but harboring and nurturing them and enjoying them is certainly sin. The first step is to acknowledge that homosexuality is sin. The second step is self-control. The third step is to morally appreciate the natural. If not, celibacy may be the only option left.

Q. What if it is impossible for a person to have heterosexual feelings?
Ans. There may be cases where a person might be dominated only homosexual desire, though in most cases heterosexual attraction still exists and the natural part (heterosexual attraction) is to be appreciated within the moral limits while the unnatural one (homosexual) has to be detested. If someone is incapable of heterosexuality, the immediate solution is continence and celibacy. The Bible promises transformation, renewal of heart, and sanctification for all who seek to obey the Gospel and be led by the Spirit instead of by the passions of the flesh.

Q. Why oppose homosexuality when it is not damaging to others? Isn't it just a private issue?
Ans. That is a hasty generalization and also an error with respect to moral understanding. Firstly, morality is not determined by consequences as opined by utilitarians. The end does not justify the means. Homosexuality is exposed as wrong by the scriptures. It is not about opposition, but about recognition of homosexual acts as morally wrong since they violate the intrinsic moral nature of sexuality. To rip sexuality off its intrinsic nature and posit it as merely instrumental is a violation of its sanctity. Christian ethics is not determined by the harm principle. Secondly, it is too hasty to conclude that Christian acceptance of homosexuality will not have negative consequences. There are already social consequences of its social acceptance in accepting societies. In contexts where procreation is devalued due to social and economic constraints, and where homosexuality starts becoming publicly appreciated in media, literature, and public policies, there can be serious damaging effects on heterosexual values. But, even if there were none, the a priori categorization of homosexuality as immoral remains unchanged in Christian ethics. While Christians do not oppose what non-Christians do in their private spheres, they will oppose, as responsible citizens, any invasion of their spaces - for instance, if homosexual graphics that might be potentially harmful to moral values are displayed in public arenas (billboards, advertisements).

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