Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr Wang's blog on Christianity and TAR (part 2)

… continuing from below:

The truth is what you believe actually influences how you perceive things and how well you believe things will work for your favour.

So in a personal capacity in regards to self-belief, Mr Wang is right in saying so. But when it starts to link to Christianity, this good God who loves me works outside my self-belief.

He works in spite of myself and what I think Him to be.

PS. Will love to hear comments about what you think and your belief.

This is the part where I respond to ~[z][x]~ a Christian.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Very strangely, I am very much more inclined to Mr Wang's understanding than kaffein's, albeit being Christian myself. I apologize to Mr Wang and the other readers, but I would like to have a go, (yet again) at the Prosperity Gospel:

> Kaffein:
Prosperity gospel? Hmmm never heard of it. I have only heard of THE GOSPEL, which means GOOD NEWS. Whether one thinks prosperity is good or not, it's up to each individual.

For me I choose to believe my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. That includes material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping."

I don't quite get it, kaffein. What is it about Mr Wang's highlighting of the story of Jonah as an example of the common belief - "God's thoughts might be different from ours, our desires might be different from his" that you are disagreeing with, exactly?

> Kaffein:
Erm, I never remarked about Mr Wang's comments on Jonah. I was saying Mr Wang's perception of how one receives from God is based on how he believed it to be given to him. I just disagreed when he used the Christian faith link to it.

As for Jonah, you know what, God can pick another person to preach to the Ninevites. It wasn't God 'mis-using' his force, power& will to make Jonah follow his plans and purposes. Jonah was a prophet of God. He had made his life to be the God’s mouthpiece or whatever God told him to say. But he chose otherwise.

You know I’d zap Jonah for disobeying me if I’m God and I'll get another prophet to do his job. That’s why we make lousy gods. The God I know gives everyone a free choice to listen to or follow Him. Jonah's case was an example of how God loves even the wicked person and not just the Jews.

You see, God had a distinct plan when He did what He had to do to Jonah. Yet Jonah still had a choice throughout! But there was a deeper meaning why God ‘moved’ to get Jonah to preach to the Ninevites.

Jonah, being a Jew, didn't like the Gentiles. Even worse, he was hoping the message didn’t reach them so they wouldn’t repent and God would have to zap the Ninevites!. God's hand moved and ‘forced’ Jonah was to show Jonah that He loved the Gentiles as much as the Jews.

So did Jonah learn finally? Was he a better prophet after that? Don’t you think Jonah now understands God’s love better?

So to entirely say God distinctly had other plans/ideas for Jonah is true. Yet God gives everyone his free choice. God, who is not limited by space and time, knows Jonah will finally realize and go to the Ninevites to preach. And the Ninevites will repent.

That is the story of Jonah.

In the past, God's thoughts and ways were unknown and a mystery. But Jesus has said, the fullness of God has been revealed through Him. Who God is, Jesus is. So I think this verse about God's thoughts are different from ours is a bit misquoted. If you had known and received Jesus, the Holy Spirit in you will reveal God's purposes in your life. This is a different topic entirely now.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him."

There are MANY poor, faithful Christians living in third-world countries today. Why is it that these Christians never become as rich as say, many from the mega-churches in Singapore? You might think they lack faith. Many of them, however, would realize that they have received a contentment that no materialistic gain can offer. They do pray to get rich, but they might not, and they do not mind because they know God knows what is best for them! And that, I think, is what Christianity is about.

> Kaffein reply:
I never said there aren’t any poor Christians. They could have lived poorly because of the country, social, politic and economic reasons. They are there because they were born there. There are many reasons.

But frankly speaking, do you think they want to be in that situation? Don't say just Christians, even non-Christians will want to leave that country given a choice. I’ve never doubted a Christian’s faith should he wish to leave the 3rd world country.

Yet do you think the norm of selling one's daughters to become prostitutes because the country is in poverty is good? So do you think it is a blessing and glorifying to God to be poor? Yet I don't understand why Christians think poverty is good (IMHO). Prosperity gospel? Nope, just plain common sense.

I’m not interested in any prosperity gospel. I am interested in THE prosperity and provider. His name is Jesus.

There are many members in the body of Christ, living and serving in different locations and at different capacity. Some live in the 3rd world countries, others more affluent countries. Some are called into 3rd world countries to live amongst the people, to reach to them, to be the hands and feet of the body of Christ. Some are called into wealth mgmt, investment (Joseph, Abraham, Solomon, etc) and so through the financial wisdom God had given, the riches are used to bless the orphanages and ministries to help these missionaries. Others are called to be the mouth (eg. pastors, preachers, evangelists), the ears, the eyes, etc.

Let's not limit how Christians should be. If your believe being poor glorifies God, it’s your choice. For me and my house, I choose to want to bless others, be it spiritual or material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc.

Was Job a typo? Because Job had like, everything taken away from him. Job's tragic story, his questioning, and his coming back to faith stand as countervailing evidence to your Prosperity-Gospel theology: God DOES NOT need to bless us with material wealth to be GOOD.

> Kaffein reply:
Did you read the whole of Job, ZX? Or did you only liked the part where Job was poor and lost everything?

1. Firstly, Job wished there was someone who could stand in the gap for him. In his time, he didn't have Christ to mediate on behalf of him. Now we have Jesus Christ who is our great High Priest and Mediator. So can Satan stand before God and accuse Christians now and take all blessings from them? That’s was what Job (and David) was hoping to have!

2. Second, did you ever read the end of Job story? Everything that was taken was given back to him, and even much more. So the question is not whether God had blessed Job with material wealth (my bible says he did), but whether Job took it or not. My bible says Job was the richest man alive then.

3. Thirdly, if you read carefully, who was it that blessed Job? It was God. If according to you, Job should give all away. Or did you believe that Job was struck down because he had so many things? If I’m reading the correct bible, it says God was the one who blessed Job and protected him.

4. If going by what you say again about God not needing to bless us materially, that means God shouldn't even bless Job after taking everything away from him, right? My bible tells me God blessed Job even more than what he had at first before Satan took them away! If I follow you, that meant Job should tell God, “No don't give me anymore stuff!”. Erm, that's not what my bible tells me.

5. Lastly, it was Satan who made a bargain with God. He lost. According to the book of law, Satan had not only to pay back what he stole from Job, but much more. So it's always a risk when Satan attacks a Christian.

I'm not sure if you can use Job as a good example because it's a one-off situation. I can see more richness and blessings of many others than the one-off Job in the Old Testaments. Yet in the end, Job was even richer. So somehow your support for Job doesn’t stand.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Yes, these 'wealth-promising' verses have often been misunderstood. Especially when Christians forget Jesus' reminders in Matthew 6:19 and 6:32-33.

> Kaffein reply:
Look at the context and whole chapter in Matt 6:19. He's talking about the Pharisees who often are showing off their fasting, flaunting their wealth and giving tithes to let everyone see how holy they are. I don’t believe Jesus was calling us hypocrites at all.

The LOVE of money is the root of evil. It is not money itself. A man with $10 can be greedier than a multi-millionaire. The problem isn't about money but our hearts.

The key verse is found in v21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus didn't say you shouldn't be rich, but if you put riches before God, money is your god. I'm quite sure you have misquoted.

Matthew 6:32-33.
"32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Again the key verse you've missed out is your Heavenly Father knows you need them. Them means material things which the pagans run after. Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness: what do these refer to?

Jesus refered the Kingdom to the new covenant God is going to make with the people. Many times, Jesus said: The Kingdom of God is here. His righteousness? Only one qualifies that name and that’s Jesus.

So this verse means seek God through Jesus, and all these things (includes material things) will be added unto you. Because the things he referred to were the very material things that pagans run after.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Because He knows that these other "needs" can so very often, distract/blind us from his 'best'? If not, why in the world would Jesus have said "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)?

> Kaffein reply:
Again you have misunderstood what Jesus said.

Jesus wasn't saying the rich man couldn't enter because he had great wealth. The rich man had great wealth and he did not want to let go of it. That was his god. The rich man also boasted in his works: honouring his parens, not murdering and loving his neighbours as himself. The man was basically proud because he boasted in many things - he thought himself better than others.

So Jesus pointed to him his weakness. That is his love for his great wealth. And the trust in his own efforts to enter the kingdom of God.

Remember Jesus said anyone who wants to follow Him must deny himself and his family? Yet I don't see Christians denying parents or their wives for the matter? Isn't it contradicting the law which says to honor your parents?

Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. If your hand causes you to sin, chop it off. Better to enter the kingdom maimed than to be thrown outside.

So why don't we all gouge our eyes and chop our hands? Which of us can safely say we don't have envious, jealous and wandering eyes? Or our hands have never done anything wrong?

What Jesus is saying is no one, by their own efforts can enter the Kindgom of God. That's why we need a saviour.

If I take Jesus' meaning literally, that means I should be poor and maimed and blind. Yet Jesus healed the blind! Why would He do that since the eye caused me to sin and not enter the kingdom? Likewise, God should not bless Job, or David or anyone of us at all? Yet again why am I working? Better if I go to the countryside and be a farmer and grow just enough for me and family.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

But surely, He showers his grace as well, in many other ways, to those who are not materialistically 'blessed'. Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'"

> Kaffein reply:
Ahhh the key word is LOVE OF MONEY. Not don't have money. I can have $10 in my pocket, yet I'm not satisfied. I can be a multi-millionaire, yet I'm not fulfilled. So it’s not the money but the love of it.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
No offense meant, kaffein. It is just that I really disagree with what is being taught in many churches in Singapore today. And you sounded uncannily like them. Would love to hear what you have to say, though. Thanks.

> Kaffein reply:
None taken. To each our own understanding. I just think you have missed out much of what God has in store for you.

You see, if I'm wrong, I'm still saved by grace, be it I’m rich or not. Well, if you are wrong, then you suffer needlessly on this earth.



~[z][x]~ said...

Dear Kaffein,

Thanks for inviting me here. You have a nice blog, keep blogging.

You questioned, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, "Prosperity gospel? Hmmm never heard of it." I would define the Prosperity Gospel, of which I am staunchly against, as the belief that God MUST bless us with health/wealth, and that if we are poor/unhealthy, it is a reflection of the believer's lack of faith in God/God's unhappiness with the believer. The logical conclusion of such a belief would be that the measure of our faith is directly proportional to the amount of wealth/health we currently enjoy, and if all Christians internalize such a teaching we will be inviting a societal catastrophe.

Such a skewed theology does not need to be preached in the exact, straight-in-your-face form as I had formulated above to take root in the subconscious minds of believers. All you need is an over-emphasis/regurgitation of God's materialistic "blessings", Sunday after Sunday, (e.g. how this brother made his first million, how that sister became financially stable) to suffice, and I see this taking place in, at least, 2 mega-churches in Singapore currently.

I was interested at first to ask which church you attend, but you seem to be living (joyfully!) in Australia?

You asked why some Christians think poverty is good. Good must be understood not as "desirable" but rather "meaningful". I think it is because they have learnt to live, literally, by God's grace every day. Now it is hard for us, people of First World countries, to fully appreciate what "To survive everyday is a miracle" means. But if you are a poor/sick/neglected man in a 3rd World country, yet fortunate enough to be wearing the lens of faith, you would really appreciate the gift of Life and Grace, perhaps even more so, than a millionaire half a globe away.

To correct what you thought I meant, no, poverty does not in itself glorify God. Poverty, as with all forms of sickness, is a result of the Fall. But God can be glorified through Christians who are in poverty. This is what I am stressing! There is no contradiction whatsoever, the contradiction lies with those who believe that you MUST be rich/healthy in order to glorify God. They are the ones who are not just, in your words, "limiting how Christians should be", but actually "limiting what God has to be" as well.

My understanding of the story of Job is simply this: Job was faithful (1:8), but yet he too, at one point, had everything stripped away from him. He eventually concluded that although he did not understand all of God's ways, he would still submit to him (42:1-6)and hold firm that God is still good. This, very importantly, was BEFORE his wealth was returned to him. Now seriously, do you not think that the moral of this (very long-winded) story of Job was his "faith in poverty", rather than, as you seem to imply, his "eventual return to wealth"?

You are absolutely correct in your interpretation of Jesus' seemingly wealth-hating reminders. In fact, I am in constant disagreement with Christians who take the bible too literally. For that matter, I do not personally believe that Jesus is promoting poverty, or that we should obey all his teachings literally.

I cannot deny however, that Jesus was always very concerned with our possession/obsession with money. Firstly, this is because he was, at least in political thoughts, a socialist. Secondly, he realized too, as I've mentioned, that money (or the love of it) can easily BLIND us not just to the One who provides, but those we are commanded to care for as well.

How then, is this love/obsession of money manifested today? Look no further than the preaching of the Prosperity Gospel. The demand that God MUST bless us materially is exactly what Jesus would preach against. Are you not equally blessed by giving to the needy what you have? Why should what you earn be seen as a greater testimony than what you give?

Wealth, or perhaps even material sufficiency, is a relative concept. You can never have a society, or community, where everyone is rich. If I am millionaire but stick among billionares constantly, I would naturally, "become" "poor". To preach therefore, that God will/must make you rich makes no sense, because rich as compared to who? Rich as for what reasons?

Take a look at what Paul has to say in Philippians 4:11-12 - "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

I'm not sure how you would read this, but what it dawns upon me is that the true measurement of faith is about being CONTENT of what God has provided and WILL provide, even if it contradicts my own desires, because He knows best, just as how you, as a father, would not satisfy some of your child's demands because you know it isn't "best for him/her", right?

I'm sorry if I had been going in circles, but thanks really, for replying and making me think deep about my faith. Do take care anyway! :)

Zhi Xuan

Kaffein said...

Got your email, ZX? Kinda long to reply you.

~[z][x]~ said...



Anonymous said...

wow zx haha cldnt have been said better.

are you baptist/presbyterian?