Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Bible and the Casino

On 18 April 2005, the Singapore government will make a decision on whether Singapore will proceed with the creation of a casino, a first in Singapore. However, there are probably some Christians who would oppose the casino proposal based upon religious grounds. Here are some of my thoughts:
  1. If you read the Bible carefully, all Biblical prohibitions to moral vices are only applicable to the people of God, i.e. spiritual / physical Israel and the Christians. The Mosaic Covenant is meant for the chosen people of Israel, not for the Egyptians, Assyrians or Babylonians. The apostles have never enouraged the Christians to oppose the moral vices of the non-Christians in the Roman empire. The divine commission is the evangelism of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not humanistic moral change in the general society.

    However, I must clarify that everyone, i.e. Christians and non-Christians, has "the requirements of the law are written on their hearts" (Romans 2:15 NIV). Even though the non-elect are not under the Mosaic Covenant or the New Covenant, they will still be judged on their sins.

  2. According to the Bible, "all [men] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV). It is also written: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV)

    This means that only through the transformational work of the Holy Spirit can a sinful man be freed from his sins. You must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, or "born again" so to speak (John 3:3). Therefore, there is no point having Christians impose Christian moral values on unregenerated non-Christians. This is an impossible task, which is best left to the Holy Spirit.

  3. By attacking pet moral issues such as gambling (and homosexuality), the culturally moralistic Christians are being selective at the sins they wish to vilify. They forget that every type of sins, whether major or minor, render the sinner unrighteous before God. Even one sin, be it pride, greed or lust, can cause a person to be denied Heaven, unless he has the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

    Anyway, if these Christians wish to vilify a sin, why not look at the worst sin in the world? And what might that be, you may ask? What is the greatest commandment? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27 NIV). Therefore, the worst sin in the world is to break the greatest commandment. However, we do not see many Christians being very agitated over this sin, unlike the issue of the casino or homosexuality.

  4. Cultural moralism makes morality the path to salvation, and that is Biblically wrong. Cultural moralism reverses the divine order. This kind of Christianity belittles the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and sends a message to the non-Christians that godly moralism can be achieved without receiving the gospel. Instead, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is the path to godly morality.

    In a way, Christian cultural moralism makes good works the means to salvation, instead of repentance and faith alone in Jesus Christ. However, salvation is actually the means to morality, not the ends. As the Bible clearly states: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

  5. Even though I state that salvation is the means to morality, it does not mean that morality is the end goal in the overall divine plan. As the Westminster Larger Catechism very eloquently puts it: "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever." Salvation is also a way to show the grace of God on His elect, and never to promote overall morality in a totally depraved world.
In conclusion, I entirely disagree with anyone who use the Bible or the name of Christianity to support their arguments against the creation of the casino.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

George W. Bush's Theology and the Death of Pope John Paul II

Upon receiving news of Pope John Paul II's death, U.S. President George W. Bush has issued a statement from the White House, "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd; the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home."1

As a member of the United Methodist Church, Bush appears to have departed from the traditional orthodox beliefs of biblical Protestantism when he called the late Pope John Paul II "a good and faithful servant of God." If Bush do actually "read the Bible regularly"2 as he so claimed, he would have known that the "gospel" of the Roman Catholic Church is not the true gospel as described in the Word of God.

Methodism is historically classified as a major branch of Protestantism. Without going into denominational distinctives, it would be fair to say that the five Solas are generally considered to be a good summation of the doctrines of Protestantism, which are defined as: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), Sola Fide (Faith alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (All glory to God alone). By opposing the five Solas that are taught in the Word of God, the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are clearly teaching the false gospel, which the Apostle Paul warned us about. As it is written: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8 NIV)

It is obvious that the office of the Pope has to be occupied by someone who subscribed to all the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. As Roman Catholicism stands in conflict with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, it would therefore be logical to conclude that the late Pope John Paul II do not have true saving faith at all. Hence, the Pope cannot be considered a real Christian, much less "a good and faithful servant of God."
1 Bush Hails Pope as 'Hero for the Ages', Reuters 2005, Sat Apr 2, 2005 06:27 PM ET.
2 George W. Bush said, "I read the Bible regularly. Don Evans gave me the "one-year" Bible, a Bible divided into 365 daily readings, each one including a section from the New Testament, the Old Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I read through that Bible every other year. During the years in between, I pick different chapters to study at different times."
Download the Reuters article "Bush Hails Pope as 'Hero for the Ages'" in Adobe Acrobat format.