Doctrine of the Trinity: A Primer

The doctrine of trinity teaches that the one true God of the Old Testament has in the New Testament further revealed himself in three ways of being (Persons) in his work of redemption: as the Father who is the source of all things, as the divine Word who came in flesh to reveal the Father and redeem the fallen race, and as the Holy Spirit who gives new life to the church and unites all things in heaven and earth under God’s rule.

The premises of the doctrine of the Trinity are: (1) The unity of God taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and, (2) The full deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit revealed in God’s final revelation, the New Testament.

A proper biblical view of the Trinity balances the concepts of unity and distinctiveness. Two errors should be avoided: (1) Tritheism which emphasizes distinctiveness of the Godhead to the point that the Trinity is seen as three separate Gods, or a Christian polytheism, (2) Unitarianism which disregards distinctiveness within the Godhead as it gives special focus to God the Father so that Christ and the Holy Spirit are relegated to less than divine categories. Both errors compromise the effectiveness and contribution of the activity of God in redemptive history. Continue reading “Doctrine of the Trinity: A Primer”

Hell for Open Theists

Christians who uphold the orthodox doctrine of hell have become fair game to liberal theologians who delight in putting them on the defensive by conjuring up terrifying images where denizens of hell are tormented by ferocious hell fire. Critics of hell argue that people should not be faulted when they fail to believe an ancient book, much less should they be condemned to hell to be tortured by devices ingeniously conceived by the sadistic imagination of Christians who stubbornly cling to an archaic belief. The scenes of excessive suffering in hell only confirm the suspicion that for all their talk of love, orthodox Christians are really heartless when they are fired up by self-righteousness. Not surprisingly, hell has become repugnant to liberal theologians and only a foolhardy Christian would dare mention hell in his witness to them. Continue reading “Hell for Open Theists”

Calvinism Beyond 5-Points – Its Surpassing Vision of God’s Glory

By God’s grace and for his glory –  let every Calvinist be a God-intoxicated Christian!

A good friend posed this question to my earlier post, “SUPER” & “TULIP”CALVINISM: A Joyful Vision of God’s Supremacy and Sovereignty: “But have you succeeded in providing an “accurate and fair summary of Calvinism”? Have you not merely produced an adaptation of the 17th Century reply to the Remonstrants, however crucial that may be?”

Pardon me if I get a bit carried away and wax poetic in my response: How not to, when one meditates on the glory of God with the heart and mind of Calvin and his distinguished followers like Jonathan Edwards and B.B. Warfield?

Anyone one who has the slightest acquaintance with Calvin’s thought and its theological elaboration in the writings of Jonathan Edwards and B.B. Warfield would know that Calvinism offers a most comprehensive and intoxicating vision of God’s  glory and love in the world. This is what the last paragraph of my earlier post, “SUPER” & “TULIP”CALVINISM: A Joyful Vision of God’s Supremacy and Sovereignty points to. Was it not Abraham Kuyper who declares that for the Calvinist? – “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of my personal devotions and churchgoing over which Christ does not cry: mine!”

It would be an impoverishment of Christian faith if Calvinism is reduced to only 5-points. Calvinism is a whole way of life set before the glorious presence and lordship of God. Continue reading “Calvinism Beyond 5-Points – Its Surpassing Vision of God’s Glory”

God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)

Part 1: God and Humanity in Islam & Christianity

Thesis: Ultimately, the difference between Islam and Christianity is that the former views the relationship between God and man within the field of power. The Divine-human encounter becomes a contest of strength where human submission is a matter of expediency in the face of sheer dominant power. In contrast, Christianity views the relationship as one that is moral: God, despite his sovereignty, treats human beings as persons with inherent dignity (since they are created in His image). God seeks allegiance from man based not on expediency but as a grateful response to a God who passionately cares for his welfare (c.f., pathos in Abraham Heschel’s work).  Man may fail to perceive the depths of divine pathos. Without a personal revelation from God, man can only be dimly aware of divine pathos in pale and fragmented forms, described as divine sorrow, pity, wrath, and compassion because of his psychological limitations, although divine pathos must be perfect and complete within the divine Trinity. However, these partial perceptions of divine pathos are fully revealed and experienced as divine love when manifested at the cross. Hence the glorious declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:19 – in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself. Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)”

Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God, Contingency and Principle of Sufficient Reason. Preliminary Thoughts.

I. Kalam Cosmological Argument

Without doubt the most well known argument for the existence for God today is the Kalam cosmological argument which features prominently in many debates between William Craig and atheistic thinkers.  The Kalam cosmological argument in its simplest form goes as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe begins to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This is a strong argument precisely because it is logically tight (an unassailable modus ponens). Continue reading “Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God, Contingency and Principle of Sufficient Reason. Preliminary Thoughts.”

Refutation of Muslim Scholars’ Argument in the Allâh Controversy. Part 2/3

Refutation of Muslim Scholars’ Arguments in the Allah Controversy. Part 2/3

Allâh is Certainly Not a Proper Noun/Personal Name

Introduction: Allâh and Other Loan Words in the Quran for God
The fundamental and contested presupposition in the present dispute on the use of Allâh is whether there are words so exclusively defined by a single linguistic system that their usage is reserved for that linguistic system alone. In this regard, scholars like Dr. Mohd Sani Badron, Prof Khadijah Mohd Hambali and Mohd Aizam operate on the assumption that Quranic Arabic and subsequently, Bahasa Malaysia have sole proprietorship over certain words (especially the word Allâh)  since these words been ‘purified’ (Islamicised) for the purpose conveying Islamic truths. As such, they call for Christians to be banned from using the word Allâh as improper usage of the word by Christians will lead to corruption of revealed truth. Continue reading “Refutation of Muslim Scholars’ Argument in the Allâh Controversy. Part 2/3”

Allah and Tuhan in Bible Translation

Why It is Not Possible to Substitute Allah with Tuhan in Bible Translation

Muslims in other parts of the world (Arabs, Persians, North Africans, Pakistanis and Indonesians) have no objection and are not worried about getting confused when Christians use the word Allah. In contrast, some Malaysian Muslims claim to be confused; a strange phenomenon indeed.  This observation lends credence to the suggestion that the Allah issue is an artificial Malay issue and not a genuine Muslim issue. The truth is that the current orchestrated protests against the recent High Court decision to allow the Catholic Herald (and Christians) to use the word Allah must be seen as cynical manipulations by Malay politicians to gain votes from their community. Continue reading “Allah and Tuhan in Bible Translation”

Translating the Names of God

TRANSLATING THE NAMES OF GOD: Recent experience from Indonesia and Malaysia
D. Soesilo

Note – This is partial reproduction of the original article. Reproduced with permission from the author

The Situation in Malaysia
The situation in Malaysia in regard to the use of the divine names is different to that in Indonesia in one important respect, which has more to do with politics than with language. It is that some years ago some states and the federal government prohibited the use of the name  Allah  by non-Muslims.
It is partly fear of this that has led some organisations to make changes in the rendering of the names of God in Malay and Indonesian, in both their own writing and in quoting of Scripture. (Each time the word  Allah  “God” occurs, it has been consistently changed to  Tuhan “Lord”, with the result that there is no difference between the renderings of the two Hebrew names YHWH and Elohim.)
Continue reading “Translating the Names of God”

Allah is Not a Personal Name

Allah is Not a Personal Name

It is bad enough when the Malaysian government bans Christians from using the word Allah. It is worse when some misguided Christians (granted it is a small minority) agree that Muslims have sole proprietary rights to the word Allah, even though this capitulation amounts to surrendering their centuries old usage of the word Allah for worship and spiritual instructions.

Perhaps this capitulation results from a misunderstanding of Arabic grammar, that is, the view that Allah is a personal name. Allah, as such, refers solely to the individual Supreme Being whom Muslims (and no other believers) worship. Accepting this misunderstanding would give grounds to the Muslim’s (still contestable) demand that only they have the right to use the word Allah and its related terms.Such a capitulation must be vigorously resisted seeing how the Malaysian government unrelentingly prosecutes its ban against Christians using the word Allah. It is imperative that we analyze and correct this misunderstanding.

Continue reading “Allah is Not a Personal Name”

Allah and Bible Translation Again: New Light from an Ancient Manuscript

Allah and Bible Translation Again: New Light from an Ancient Manuscript

As expected, the hearing of the application by the Sidang Injil Borneo (Borneo Evangelical Church) Sabah for leave to sue the government over the right Christians to use the word “Allah” was adjourned to 7 Aug.

It is most interesting that it is the government officials who keep asking for postponement of the court hearing. I think the government knows that its policy of banning the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims is just intellectually untenable, legally indefensible and morally embarrassing. Hence, it resorts to asking for postponement of both the SIB case and the Catholic Herald case on grounds of legal technicalities. Continue reading “Allah and Bible Translation Again: New Light from an Ancient Manuscript”