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Why Affirm Biblical Inerrancy and Ignore Missing Original Manuscripts and Other Errors?

Sadly, it is no longer a surprise for Malaysians to come across pastors and seminarians who reject the historic doctrine of biblical inerrancy. The two common reasons given for rejecting inerrancy are (1) we cannot ignore the historical errors or discrepancies found in the Bible. Examples of discrepancies include the confused sequence of events describing Jesus’ healing of blind Bartimaeus, the death of Judas, Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and Luke’s ‘erroneous’ dating of the Roman census at the time when Quirinius was the governor of Syria etc. and (2) we do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible. All that we have today are flawed copies.

(1) Alleged historical errors
These alleged discrepancies are straw men. We may conclude that the biblical text is in error only if we can demonstrate that it is in conflict with clear and unambiguous evidence given in other reliable historical sources.  However, the evidence from the extra-biblical sources remains inconclusive and its interpretation is disputed among scholars.  There is no necessity to presume that the biblical sources must be in error just because we are presently unable to integrate seamlessly the biblical accounts with other historical accounts. In instances where there is controversy among scholars (e.g. the conquest of Canaan by Joshua), there is room to maintain an agnostic position in the details, pending further information gleaned from more archaeological research and historical investigation. Continue reading “Why Affirm Biblical Inerrancy and Ignore Missing Original Manuscripts and Other Errors?”

The Vanished Soul and Quest for the Authentic Self in Modern Western Thought

Philosophical and Social Origins of Identity Politics and the LGBTQ Sexual Revolution. Part 1.

Due to the influence of the Bible, the majority of thinkers in Western society for centuries have acknowledged the reality of the soul which is distinct and yet intimately linked to the body. According to the Christian tradition, what we refer to as body and soul are aspects of one unitary reality and process, that is, the body and soul are viewed as a psychophysical unit, the human person. The physical body changes through time but the soul persists as the person interacts continuously with the world. It is the continuity of the soul, with its faculties of intellect and will, which ensures coherence and defines the personal identity of the person.1Due to constrains of a short article, the words “soul”, “self” and “mind” are used in this post interchangeably in the light of overlaps in their semantic domain. For example, the immortality of the soul is linked to the immateriality of the mind and the mind is a power of the soul. However, we should be sensitive to the nuances of each thinker in how he uses these words.

Knowledge of the soul is inseparable from knowledge of God.2John Calvin notes, “true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves”… Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster, 1960), Book 1.1.1, 2. However, from the 17th century, many Western scholars and scientists began to reject both the idea of God and the soul. Indeed, the soul has become absent or irrelevant in contemporary intellectual discourse. How did this happen?

To answer this question, we begin with the French philosopher, Rene Descartes. Continue reading “The Vanished Soul and Quest for the Authentic Self in Modern Western Thought”

  • 1
    Due to constrains of a short article, the words “soul”, “self” and “mind” are used in this post interchangeably in the light of overlaps in their semantic domain. For example, the immortality of the soul is linked to the immateriality of the mind and the mind is a power of the soul. However, we should be sensitive to the nuances of each thinker in how he uses these words.
  • 2
    John Calvin notes, “true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves”… Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster, 1960), Book 1.1.1, 2.

Perceiving Coherence in Life Despite Undeserved Suffering (Ecclesiastes 4/5)

Perceiving Coherence in Life Despite Undeserved Suffering
Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning (4/5)

This video presents the coherent argument of Ecclesiastes, and thus presents the overall message of Ecclesiastes. In the process it reveals how to meet the second condition for experiencing the meaning of life, which is, being able to perceive how every aspect of life, especially the painful aspects, fits into a coherent whole. For it reveals how even the reality of “innocent” (that is, undeserved) suffering coheres with God’s purpose for humanity. This revelation, together with that of God’s purpose for humanity, provide the answer to the human quest for meaning in a way most satisfying to the human heart.

 

Discovering the Most Worthwhile Purpose for Living ( Ecclesiastes 3/5)

Discovering the Most Worthwhile Purpose for Living ( Ecclesiastes 3/5)
Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning (3/5)

There are two conditions for experiencing the meaning of life. This video discusses the first, revealed in Ecclesiastes as living out God’s purpose for humanity. This condition is corroborated empirically by real-life human experience in a recent PhD thesis. One need not be a Christian to discover and live out this purpose and experience the meaning of life. However, Ecclesiastes also reveals that God will one day judge every person based on this purpose. Because of sin, no one can live out this purpose perfectly and so everyone needs God’s forgiveness. Hence Ecclesiastes points non-Christians to Christ no matter how meaningful their life may be.

Biblical Dualism and the Soul Between Death and Resurrection (the Intermediate State)

Death, Resurrection and Life Everlasting DRLE Pt.2

Death involves disintegration of a person’s vital power (nepesh, “soul”; Gen. 35:18; 1 Kings 19:4), cessation of bodily life, and separation of the body and the soul. Does the soul continue to exist after the death of the person? The monist theologian’s answer is “no”. Monism argues that according to the Bible, a human being is not divided into separate parts, i.e. body, soul, and spirit, but he exists as a unified or holistic self. Since the soul and the body are just different aspects of a person, existence entails bodily existence. There is no possibility of disembodied existence of the soul after death. The purpose of this post is to show that monism contradicts the Bible which ascribes to the disembodied soul some forms of consciousness in the intermediate state between death and final resurrection.1This post focuses on the biblical teaching on the soul’s disembodied existence in the intermediate state. For a philosophical defence of the tenability of disembodied existence of the soul, see Paul Helm, “A Theory of Disembodied Survival and Re-embodied Existence,” Religious Studies (1978), pp. 15-26; Richard Purtill, “Disembodied Survival,” Sophia 12 (1973), pp. 1-10. Continue reading “Biblical Dualism and the Soul Between Death and Resurrection (the Intermediate State)”

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    This post focuses on the biblical teaching on the soul’s disembodied existence in the intermediate state. For a philosophical defence of the tenability of disembodied existence of the soul, see Paul Helm, “A Theory of Disembodied Survival and Re-embodied Existence,” Religious Studies (1978), pp. 15-26; Richard Purtill, “Disembodied Survival,” Sophia 12 (1973), pp. 1-10.

Talk: Signs of Intelligent Design in a Fine-tuned Universe and the God Hypothesis.

Link to video – Intelligent Design & the GOD Hypothesis

This talk was delivered originally at the Christian STEM Nexus Forum in Nov. 2023. It explains why the “God Hypothesis” offers an explanation of the origin of the universe better than chance in the light of new developments in contemporary cosmology. Issues discussed include (1) How the Universe came into existence, (2) Intelligent Design and Irreducible Complexity in fine-tuned universe.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19: 1-4).

Originally published on 25 Nov 2023. Updated on 13 June 2024

Enjoying the Best of Both Worlds—This and the Next (Ecclesiastes 2/5)

Enjoying the Best of Both Worlds—This and the Next (Ecclesiastes 2/5)

Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning 2/5

Only two out of thirty over English translations of the Bible render the theme of Ecclesiastes as “Everything is meaningless.” Most translations retain the traditional rendering “All is vanity.” Yet most Christians today assume that Ecclesiastes says, “Everything is meaningless.” Since this robs Ecclesiastes of its God-inspired message, this video seeks to defend the traditional rendering. It shows that “All is vanity” is an objective description of reality whereas “Everything is meaningless” is a pessimistic response to that reality. Ecclesiastes itself teaches a realistic response. The Gospel empowers Christians to also have an optimistic response. Hence they can enjoy the best of both worlds—this and the next.

You can watch the full video at
Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning 2/5

OT Anthropology: Dualistic Holism or Holistic Dualism

Death, Resurrection and Life Everlasting – DRLE Pt.1b

We shall in this post argue that scholars like N.T. Wright, Nancey Murphy and Joel Green are mistaken when they reject substance dualism, the long-held belief that the human being is a compound entity comprising two distinct substances interacting with one another, that is, the body and its immaterial soul. 1Substance dualism [also mind-body dualism]: The mind and body are composed of two ontologically distinct substances, each of which is capable of independent existence – the non-physical mind (or the soul) and the material body. It is noted that while N.T. Wright rejects substance dualism, nevertheless he also acknowledges some form of disembodied intermediate state after death. Wright has not demonstrated how these two contrary viewpoints may be reconciled. It is indisputable that this has been the belief of most Christians throughout history. Nevertheless, these scholars claim that this belief owes more to Greek thought than to the Bible. Christians should be mindful that Greek thought and Hebrew thought are incompatible paradigms. Greek or Platonic thought regards human beings partitively since the soul is dichotomizes from the body. In contrast, Hebrew thought views human beings holistically.

However, while these scholars may be justified in rejecting Platonic dualism, they fail to distinguish biblical dualism from Platonic dualism. As we shall see, there are nuances in biblical dualism which should caution scholars from assuming that supporting biblical dualism amounts to supporting Platonic dualism unreservedly. Continue reading “OT Anthropology: Dualistic Holism or Holistic Dualism”

  • 1
    Substance dualism [also mind-body dualism]: The mind and body are composed of two ontologically distinct substances, each of which is capable of independent existence – the non-physical mind (or the soul) and the material body. It is noted that while N.T. Wright rejects substance dualism, nevertheless he also acknowledges some form of disembodied intermediate state after death. Wright has not demonstrated how these two contrary viewpoints may be reconciled.

Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)

Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)
Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning (1/5)

1) Ecclesiastes is about the human quest for meaning. This quest became pronounced in the 20th century and even more so in the 21st century. Hence Ecclesiastes is needed today more than ever. However, the message is presented in a way so unique that it is often misunderstood. Most biblical scholars see pessimism and contradictions in the book. This has undermined the authority of Ecclesiastes as Scripture inspired by God.

This is the first in a series of five videos which seeks to reclaim the authoritative message of Ecclesiastes. This video introduces the series as well as seeks to remove the immediate obstacles to accepting Ecclesiastes as authoritative Scripture—apparent pessimism and apparent contradictions. It shows that the theme of Ecclesiastes is realistic, not pessimistic, and that the supposed contradictions are indeed apparent, not real.

You may read and comment on the video at
Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)

OT Anthropology. The Constituent Elements of Man. DRLE Pt.1

Death, Resurrection and Life Everlasting – DRLE Pt.1

A. Contemporary Criticism Against Biblical Dualistic Anthropology
Our understanding of death and afterlife depends on what Scripture says about the nature of man. However, the OT presents no systematic discussion of the nature of man, any more than it does of the nature of the triune God. Nevertheless, the Bible often refers to human nature as dualistic, that is, human nature is a combination of two distinct and separable entities, the material body and the immaterial soul which survives death.

However, the contemporary intellectual climate is inimical toward the traditional Christian teaching of dualism. The various objections raised against dualism include the following: 1) The theory of evolutionary psychology and scientific naturalism undermines belief in the human soul. 2) New research in neuroscience and behavioristic psychology claims to have identified direct causal relation (although this at best could be correlation) between brain functions and states of consciousness. This has rendered irrelevant the idea of the faculties of the soul & a fortriori the idea of the soul. Continue reading “OT Anthropology. The Constituent Elements of Man. DRLE Pt.1”

The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology

Kairos Podcast 6: Early Trinitarianism from NT to Nicaea. Part 6/6

LINK: The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology

Recapitulation – how the doctrine of Trinity unfolded as the early church countered heresies.

Tertullian defined the Trinity as three persons in one essence, thus highlighting the foundational biblical teaching on the oneness of God and the three distinct yet equal persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Council of Nicaea, with Athanasius, applied the term “essence” (ousia) to the person of Christ. Christ is of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father. Yet Christ also exists as a separate person, distinct in his own identity as Christ the Son. In short, biblical-Nicene trinitarianism succinctly insists that Christ is truly God and anyone who teaches otherwise is teaching heresy.

The Creedal Imperative – Biblicism insists that one only needs the bible to formulate Christian belief by relying on rigid proof-texting of selective bible verses at the expense of context and other biblical teachings. In contrast, the historic church affirms that creeds (like the Nicene Creed) are essential as they assist the church in understanding Scripture, provide succinct and normative summary of the foundations of the Christian faith (rule of faith) and protect believers from false doctrines.

You may view the video at
The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology