When Being Honest and Sincere is a Bad Thing

“What matters is that you are sincere” sounds like good advise, and it is, as we shall see in a moment. But it can also be the worst advise to give anyone. God does, indeed, want us to be sincere about what we do. A common dictionary definition of sincere is “free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings”. It is wrong to be pretentious and deceitful. We must always strive to be genuine, honest, in other words, sincere. Integrity.

Photo credit: genius.com

Photo credit: genius.com

But what if being true to who we are involves doing something that is hurtful and unkind and unloving? What if I genuinely don’t care about the homeless and the sick? Should I be sincere even then? Would it be pretentious to “do” caring things to such people because that is “the right thing to do”? Such questions lead us to something that often goes un-examined when we talk about “being sincere”: It matters what we are being sincere about. In other words, our personal feelings are not the ultimate standard of what is right or wrong. We are not automatically doing right just because we are doing what we feel like doing. There seems to be a standard of right or wrong, outside of our feelings.

Does this, then, mean that our feelings don’t matter? No. It only means that our feelings are Continue reading

What Is So Wrong With Positive Thinking?

Why do so many people (myself included) like to bash prosperity preachers? As a friend recently asked me after I posted a critique on a sermon by Creflo Dollar: “Cornell, what do you have against the man?” Before I respond to that question, three corrections:

  1. We (whoever we are) actually don’t “like” to bash prosperity preachers. (at least some of us don’t find any pleasure in it)
  2. We don’t bash prosperity “preachers”. (some of us prefer focusing on what the preachers “teach”, though many readers tend to be too emotive to distinguish between a teaching and a teacher)
  3. We actually like “prosperity” preaching. (what some of us are against is “false” prosperity preaching)

The reason I name some of these preachers is quite simple, really. It is the same reason we name people who said certain things in the newspaper. It is called attribution. If the President of Kenya said something profound (or profoundly wrong) in public, it is only reasonable that I post whatever was said along with the name of whoever said it. It is just good journalistic practice.

But somehow, when it comes to Christian preachers shouting words in public stadia, we are somehow only supposed to discuss what they said without naming them (or else send them private e-mails). I don’t think I am the only one seeing this inconsistency.

Photo courtesy: drugtesttraining.com.au

Photo courtesy: drugtesttraining.com.au

Now, I have said all that (above) in order to say this: I find it equally inconsistent to insist on applauding “positive thinking” without examining and questioning those positive thoughts. Most of the “false” prosperity teachings out there are usually forms of positive thinking. They are aimed at helping people feel better about themselves and their Christianity. There is nothing wrong with that. I am all for helping people feel better about themselves and their faith. It is the “how” of attaining this goal that I have qualms about.

This is my point: “Positive thinking” means nothing if you have the wrong standard for determining what is positive and what is negative.

For instance, if self-interest is the ultimate objective, it may be seen as positive to accumulate insane wealth without helping the poor. Do you find any problem with that?

Similarly, if social well-being is the objective, it may be seen as positive to do what helps the masses but deprives the individuals of their rights. Do you have a problem with this approach too? Why?

But if God and His glory is the standard, it is positive to do what glorifies Him, and in doing that, realizing that both the individual and the society will benefit.

Therefore, “positive thinking” means nothing without a proper context. What many of us try to emphasize when we critique false prosperity teachers teachings is how (the context in which) they deliver their message. For instance, a teacher may say that God wants to make you wealthy. That is correct. But then the teacher adds that “God wants to make you wealthy today” and we have a problem.

The problem is not that God CAN’T make you wealthy today. Of course He can. The problem is not even that God WILL NOT make you wealthy today. Who knows? Maybe He will. The problem is that God has not given us any reason in His word to be certainly sure that HE WILL MAKE YOU RICH TODAY OR TOMORROW OR IN THIS LIFE.

It is just not there. And it is false to add a false WHEN to a true CAN.

Another aspect of “positive preaching” that has arisen recently is how Victoria Osteen recently responded to “why we worship God”. By now you know what she said, so I don’t need to repeat it here (or you may Google it if you missed it). But I will only say this to that:

Make God your beginning and your end, and “the rest” will follow. But be careful not to do it SO THAT the rest will follow or BECAUSE you want the rest to follow, do it because you love God and want to do what pleases Him… whether or not “the rest” follows.

It is like loving your spouse, you don’t love them “for yourself”, in fact, if they knew you love them because of what you stand to gain, they will not see that as love. You love your spouse because you genuinely seek their joy whether or not you will be happy yourself. Of course, your own happiness MAY follow as a result, but that is not WHY you love them. You love them for them, even if they DON’T NEED your love.

So why give any less love to God? Why love God any differently?

~~~~

Cornell

 

Don’t Be An Upcoming Gospel Artiste

It happens all the time. You hear a given phrase over and over and you get used to it and you never notice anything odd or weird about it. And then one day it hits you. You may have even used the phrase in conversation, until this day when someone says it and you were a bit absent minded and then it really hits you. Suddenly it sounds so different. That’s what happened to me last evening.

I was attending SPA FEST, an annual dancing competition, to cheer a team called DICE. It is the team my friend Winnie (she has written a guest post here before) dances in. In one of the interludes, a guy came onto the stage to perform a rap song. I didn’t catch his name, and it was obvious not many people knew who he was. You could tell from the murmurs in the crowd as he climbed up onto the platform.

“I am an upcoming artiste,” he added after the name I didn’t catch.

That’s when it hit me. I have heard that phrase used hundreds of times and I bet I have even used it a couple of times when referring to people. But what does that phrase, “upcoming artiste” really mean?

L Jay Maasai was the new artiste of the year in the 2014 Groove Awards (Photo courtesy: tetemesha.com)

L Jay Maasai was the new artiste of the year in the 2014 Groove Awards (Photo courtesy: tetemesha.com)

The surface meaning seems obvious. An upcoming artiste is someone who has recently started singing or performing in public. An upcoming artiste often doesn’t have an album – yet – and he has recently started recording some songs – or not yet. An upcoming artiste is not famous. His name has not caught on and people still struggle to remember him whenever he comes onto the stage.

An upcoming artiste is not an established artiste. In other words, he is not that popular – yet. Most of them can barely move the crowd (although the guy I saw yesterday really worked us up). All that sounds obvious, until it hits you afresh like it did me last evening. Why the “up” in upcoming? In fact, why the “coming”? Does the phrase reveal a worldview that we often overlook, as Christians, but should actually be wary of?

I believe it does, in a way.

An “up-coming” artiste implies that the artiste is “rising” to a certain level and that he or she will one day “arrive”. This bothers me. Because whenever we say an artiste is “rising” whose ranking are we using? The truth is that we have bought into the vocabulary and therefore the worldview of the world. We are categorizing and ranking Christian artistes using worldly standards and we don’t even realize it.

In the world, it is the numbers that speak. In the world, we know an artiste has “arrived” by counting the number of songs and albums and sales he has made. In the world, we know an artiste has arrived by looking at how many followers he has on Twitter and the place he holds in the TV music show charts. In other words, in the world, the stats are counted, not weighed. 

Which leads to the inevitable question, whose standards are we living and “performing” by? The irony is that most of the “upcoming” artistes often begin with a message that is faithful and biblical in the early years of their musical “career”. But as they rise up the ranks and arrive, the message gets more shallow and their gospel becomes watered down and less explicit. By the time they are topping the charts, many are great performers with messages that can barely be distinguished from the other chart-topping “secular” artistes.

Just track the musical journey of many current “arrived” artistes. Check their stats and you will see the consistent rise. Now go back and check the content of their songs and you will see the consistent decline. It will make you wonder if what we need is up-coming artistes or “down-going” artistes.

I am not saying that this is the case with all artistes who gain popularity in their musical careers. There will always be the remnants and the faithful such as Eunice Njeri. The fine wines that only get better with age like Christina Shusho are worth their place in the charts. But these are exceptional because they are the exceptions. The rule is more worrying.

“[Christ] must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

Lyrical Review: Kanjii Mbugua’s Rauka [Album]

Does God have a favorite type of music? many people, especially older people, are convinced God is into hymns. Others argue that God loves rock music, but leans more towards soft rock, you know, the Casting Crowns type of music. God is definitely into Hillsong. Surely, He must love the Gospel RnBs. We know He can’t love Hip Hop because, you know, (whispering) the demonic roots and all. Or maybe He is into reggae music…But seriously, though, does God have a favorite type of music?

rauka

Photo courtesy: spinlet.com

I think He does, and I know which album would be on top favorites if I sneaked a peek into His iTunes: Kanjii Mbugua’s Rauka album. Why do I say this? Because Kanjii’s album was good enough to make it into the Bible. Don’t believe me? Just open the Psalms, chapter 151 to be exact. Although all the 14 songs are written in Swahili with a few English lines sprinkled in one or two songs, Rauka is a masterful work of lyricism. But then again, Kanjii is gifted that way.

But what strikes me most is not the chords but the lyrics. I am not a music expert, and that is why I have always reviewed the lyrics of a song and left the musical production and arrangement to the experts. This is the first album I am reviewing on Alien Citizens. I usually review individual songs. I am reviewing it as an album because I am compelled to do justice to such a great work of worshipful art. Rauka is like a 14-page devotional book. You’ve probably already realised your Bible doesn’t have Psalm 151. Well, not anymore, because here are the 14 verses *:

1. Rauka (Rise up)

Rauka (rise up) speaks to the hopeless among us. The ones who have been branded poor, without cure, the constant failures. The song calls you to remember that Jesus did not forget you when He saved you. You may have recently received a dismissal notice at work and auctioneers are scrambling for your property, But remember Jesus did not forget you. So rise up, forget the past, what you have been through. RIse up, it’s a new day. “We thank you Father, we lift You up, we praise You. We receive You, King of kings.”

2. Ako nami (He is with me)

The second song sets a trend that I found distinctive and commendable in the rest of the album, Kanjii moves from just talking “about” God to talking “to” and “with” God. He moves from mere analysis of God’s nature to the actual worship and adoration of that nature. Ako nami (He is with me) reflects on God’s eternal strength, glory, Lordship and kindness. 

“You’re the rock on which I stand. You’re the one that never changes. In your arms I am secure. You’re protecting me. In your power I am mighty. Against all weapons formed against me, I shall not fear, I shall not fear.”

3. Karibu (Welcome)

Karibu (welcome) speaks of proclaiming the praises and attributes of God throughout the world. “All day long, I will confess You are holy, You name be lifted high, from every corner of this country, may all praise go to you Father.” And then Rigga reinforces the message with his rapping prowess; “Welcome Father, there’s no one like You, We welcome You King, Lion… Your Highness, we will make your praises heard… How will they know the King has arrived?”

4. Mfalme Mkuu

The most popular song in the album mainly because of the video that was released with the album. Mfalme Mkuu speaks of how Jesus saved us in the midst of our despair. “I had lost hope in life, I was to perish, fall, I was to be lost, but Jesus saved me… I was drowning, troubles all around me, I was in captivity, defeated, overwhelmed, but Jesus saved me… I am astounded, amazed, surprised, Your goodness has no measure, Your strength has no measure.”

5. Ebenezer

“He has said He won’t leave me until we reach the shore, He has said He has a good plan, a plan to give me hope. You are Lord of my life, and your promises are true. I will trust You, your promises are eternal… Let them say what they say, you are my Ebenezer, You guide me in life, there is no one else like You.”

6. Wewe Tu (Only You)

This song speaks of whom we should run to in our times of trouble: to God and not man. “In my pain, I cry out to my Lord. He is with me, I will not be afraid. I’d rather run to You than to man, I remember your love. Your Word is my hope. Your mercies never cease.” Kidum’s unmistakable voice spices the second verse and reinforces the same Psalm 22-like message: “Enemies surround me, I have no escape, but in Your name Lord, I am a victor…” But for You Lord, I would have perished in darkness. But for You Lord. Only You.

7. Mwanzo na Mwisho (Beginning and the End)

So far my favorite song in the album, “I thought I would perish, troubles overwhelmed me, in my depression I cried out to the Lord. He is my fortress, my hope, my rock of salvation… I will lift Him up, I will praise Him, He is the Savior, Alpha and Omega… Your name is Jehova, Lord, I ascribe to you all authority forever.”

8. Nitangoja (I Will Wait)

“It wasn’t long ago, I was drowning in issues, I longed for peace. Then I saw Your face, the One I depend on, You are my resting place. Even in my perplexion, when enemies surround me, I remember You will never leave me… I stand before You, surely You’re my shield. You’re teaching me, you’re my refuge, I will stand on Your Word.”

9. Nakuhitaji (I Need You)

“I don’t need to look for someone to care for me, love me. I don’t need to look for someone to make me happy, to satisfy me. There are no others, my soul thirsts for You. You are mine and I long for You… You’re the true vine. You provide everything I need. You are mine, I long for You.”

10. Juu Yangu (Upon me)

“I am poor, I have nothing to call my own. Like the birds of the air, you care for me. I am sure You hold my hand. You draw me to Your shadow… I know His hand upon me, I know His hand upon me… The ones I thought were my friends forsook me. But Your presence, Father, was over me. When my body wasted away with disease, You are Jehova Rapha, You healed me.”

And of course, the transposed lines towards the end are nothing short of heavenly: “Ooh, he has risen. No matter what I am going through. He has risen.”

11. Mwamba (Rock)

A mildly reggae tune with the talented Rigga sprinkled all over it: “I have come from far, seen a lot. Who cares for me? (My rock). They betrayed me, they mocked me. Who is my friend? (My rock)… I am not afraid of the floods, the rains or the winds. My foundation is in You, my rock, my rock… I will follow your Word, it is You I will depend You, Hide me.”

12. Wewe unami (You are with me)

More of a refrain than the usual verses and chorus, Wewe Unami (You are with me) is an affirmation of God’s constant and refreshing presence. It speaks of the cross as the bridge to life. “He walks with me, He holds my hand, His shadow surrounds me.” Pure, gospel-centered, worship.

13. Wewe (You

I think this is the song with the most frequent and explicit reference to Wewe (You), a psalmic chorus that addresses God and sounds almost private for its personal references: “You are my pillar, You are my refuge. You, You. You are my strength, You are my hope. You You…. In a dry land where there is no water. You are my Good. I seek. I seek. My soul longs for you. I thirst for you, I wait for you.”

14. Still Moving

The last song of the album is also the only fast-paced, party-feel song. It speaks of moving on and hoping and trusting despite circumstances that say otherwise. It is a song about rejoicing in lack and weakness. A song about praising in apparent hopelessness and despair. 

——

There you have it, a brief (long) overview of the whole album **. When I think about it, I am not so sure why I fell in love with this album. I mean, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the way the album is so explicit about God and His place in our lives. Maybe it’s the way every song stresses the weakness of man and the strength of God. Could it be the way each chord ties together the paradox of being happy in suffering, hopeful in bleakness, joyful in sadness? perhaps I love this album so much because it does not just remind me of my utter wretchedness and weakness, but it supplants this reality with God’s saving mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

In other words, it is a Gospel album.

Written for the fame of His name.

~~~
Cornell

* The album is in Swahili so I have done my best to translate the lyrics.

** You can buy the album and pay via MPESA (and other online payment alternatives) through this link (just click on this sentence).

A Glimpse of How Creflo Dollar Twisted the Bible in Nairobi

Renowned American preacher, Dr Creflo Dollar, recently concluded his three day speaking engagement in Nairobi. He had been invited to the country by Deliverance Church Kenya, under Bishop Mark Kariuki. Dollar spoke on various topics, the most publicized being “Love, Sex and Relationships”. Now, many things have been said about Dollar’s visit. A brief scan through my Facebook Timeline is enough to reveal that people’s views on him have not been unanimous.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero greets Dr Creflo Dollar outside County Hall, Nairobi. Kenya (Photo credit: creflodollarblog.com)

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero greets Dr Creflo Dollar outside County Hall, Nairobi. Kenya (Photo credit: creflodollarblog.com)

There are those who are avid followers of his program on TBN and their libraries are stocked with Dollar’s books. They celebrated the visit and even expressed a lot of excitement over finally getting a chance to see the much admired man of God “in the flesh.” Others, however, have not been so kind to Dollar’s visit. Numerous posts have sprung up in the form of tweets, Facebook status updates and notes, blogs and memes… warning people to stay away and avoid this “false teacher.”

The latter posts have often been followed by a heated comment section, with some people expressing genuine confusion, wondering what is wrong with Dollar’s teaching. I don’t need to go deep into this, you have probably already come across a few. In this post, I simply wanted to highlight something about the way Dollar used the Bible in one of his sermons in Nairobi recently. It was a sermon on “Love, Sex and Relationships” and you can catch the whole thing on YouTube.

I will only use the first 20 minutes to highlight a pattern that recurs in the whole 60 minutes of the sermon. Dollar begins by reading Genesis 2 and afterwards attempts to show how this passage is God’s blueprint for a healthy marriage. 

He has some great points. In fact, most of his points are good, and I agree with him. For instance, Dollar believes and teaches that:

  1. “A proper, suitable, fit help for a man, according to the blueprint, is a WOMAN. A cow, a bird, or even another man would not be a proper, suitable, fit help for him.” God is for opposite-sex marriage, not same-sex marriage.
  2. “A man is calculative, a woman is intuitive. God designed them that way. A woman is made a lot smarter than a man, she’s got a built in system that lets her seize quickly about things that are going on.” While this is not a point that is explicitly taught in the Bible, it is one that can be generally observed in life, and I agree with it to the extent that it is not being taught authoritatively.
  3. “Listen up men, it is important that you communicate with your wife. It is important that you communicate the vision for your house, what you plan on doing with the money…” That is also a no brainer. Communication is essential to the success of any relationship.

But then there are some things Dollar says that make you go, “Well, I am not so sure about that.” For example, when he says things like:

  1. “One of the reasons God made a woman is because of the two trees He put in the garden. God wanted man to discover and eat from the tree of life so that we would live forever. He gave the woman enough intuition to know they needed to go to the center of the garden, because without her, the man was just foolishly wandering around the garden.” Well, I am not so sure that’s why (or even one of the whys) God put the woman in the garden.
  2. “Adam was not talking to his woman. Had he been talking to her enough, she would have known about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She would have known that they were not supposed to touch that tree. But instead, Adam allowed somebody else to come in and talk to his partner and mislead her.” Well, I am not so sure about that either. Because I remember clearly in Genesis 3 the woman telling the serpent: “God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Eve definitely knew about the tree.

So, what is the problem? Why the apparent mixture of things that are in the Bible and things that are obviously opposed to the Bible? If you listen to the first 20 minutes of the sermon from which I picked the above examples, you will realise that all those five points are delivered in an intermixed way. The questionable points are justifications for the good points and vice versa.

For example, Dollar uses the argument that Adam did not tell Eve about the tree, to show why it is important for men to communicate with their wives. The END (communication) is good, and noble even, but the MEANS to that end is simply anti-biblical.

At another point in the 20 minutes, Dollar is teaching on love and submission in marriage. This is what he says:

“By nature, men are naturally submissive… But God wants men to take on the role of loving. Women naturally know how to love. But God says, men I want you to love your wife as Christ loves the church. Women I want you to submit. Instead of you doing what’s easy and natural to do, [God] says I challenge you know. You who is easy to submit, I want you to love, and you who is hard in submitting, I want you to submit. And when we do that, we begin to grow together. When you come together in marriage, there is an elimination of weakness.”

That is another classic example of anti-biblical MEANS leading to a biblical END. Submission and love are commended and commanded by God. The BIble actually teaches that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. It also teaches that wives should submit to their husbands. These ENDS are biblical. But how does Dollar make his case? By appealing to some sociological research stereotype – that men are naturally submissive and women are naturally loving - and then putting some strange motives in God’s mind: that God wants to pit these two together and mix things up.

Do you find any problem with this kind of teaching? Or are you willing to late false and anti-biblical reasoning slide since the goal is a noble one? Do you care HOW we get to holiness or is it just a matter of opinion as long as the END is justified?

You see, Dollar believes (and teaches) that what he has just outlined above is “foundational stuff”. He says it is “God’s blue-print”. But what happens to the Berean who hears Dollar say “Eve did not know about the tree because Adam did not tell her”, and then opens Genesis 3 and realizes “Eve ALWAYS knew about the tree and she even knew it was a command from God.”?

Should such a student simply consider it an oops moment on Dr Dollar’s part? Or is this a pointer to where Dollar’s authority lies when it comes to interpreting the Bible? Is Dollar elevating the Bible over what we consider to be “the most logical explanations” or is he simply reading what is “naturally true” into the Bible? Does it even matter?

Think about it, and respond appropriately.

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

The Problem With God’s Goodness

“Should guilty people be punished?” is too abstract a question.

If someone asked me such a question, I will need more information. What was the nature of the crime? Did the person do it ignorantly? Was he malicious? What damage did his actions do to other people? Has the person owned up to the crime? Is he sorry? All these and more “ramifications” will help me answer the “should guilty people be punished?” question more fairly. These clarifying questions will also help me, as a judge, determine the punishment. Whether it will be a jail term, a cash fine or a rebuke, there will definitely be punishment for the crime.

Because that’s how real life works. Context counts. Life is not just a series of abstract principles with no relation to reality. It is more nuanced than science and philosophy often presents it. 

“Should a rapist be punished?” sounds more concrete.

Let’s say the rapist admits to the crime and says he is proud of what he did. Let’s say the rapist insists that the victim deserved it and life is not fair and he is not going to change. Let’s say that the rapist is certifiably sane and after all that, the judge says he will show mercy to the rapist because he is a “good” judge. Would you have a problem with him? Why?

Photo courtesy nairaland.com

Photo courtesy nairaland.com

Then why do people have a problem with a God who punishes evil in the world? Why do people have a problem with a God who sends people to hell for their sins?

One thing we can all agree on is that people do not have a problem with a God who punishes sin. They would do the same if they were on the judgement seat. What people have a problem with is the “nature” of hell. People have a problem with how long hell will last (forever) and how painful the punishment will be (conscious torment). No wonder many have come up with different interpretations and speculations of what hell will look like.

Some have argued that hell will not be forever. It will be like purgatory, a temporary holding place where people will be punished until the punishment fits the crime. Others, repulsed by the idea of eternal torment, have argued that the people in hell will be annihilated after being punished for some time.

Whether people are extinguished or revived after “going through hell”, one thing is clear, no one is saying that there shouldn’t be a hell. The Bible is too explicit about such a matter, and the fact that we are innately hard-wired for justice makes hell necessary.

So, do you have a problem with a God who sends people to hell or do you have a problem with the type of hell He is sending people to? Is your understanding (or misunderstanding) of hell causing you to be squeamish about worshipping a God who sends people there?

In our attempts to provide “reasonable” answers to the questions surrounding hell, we often overlook a more indicting reality: the Bible teaches that there are people who will not go to hell at all (whatever notion of hell you have). There are people who will not get “any”, let alone their deserved, punishment. The bible teaches that there are rapists and murderers who will go scot free. Those who confess their sin and believe that Jesus took the punishment for them.

Do you have a problem with this? Does the idea of guilty people going unpunished make you squeamish? Do you have a problem with God’s “mercy”? His goodness? You should. Hell (whichever version), makes sense. Heaven doesn’t. “Unpunished criminals” doesn’t make sense.

I find it ironic that many people have walked away from God because they could not worship a God who sends people to hell, they could not worship a judge who punishes criminals — even if the argument for most is that this God gives ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.

It is ironic because such people don’t seem to have a problem with a God who “loves” and “accepts” and “forgives” all criminals. They walk way from a reasonable God (judge) because his judgement does not work to their advantage. But they don’t mind embracing an unreasonable God (merciful) because His mercy works to their advantage.

Few are willing to admit that there is much more going on in this “merciful judge” kind of God than pure reason or pure science can ever explain. They miss the point because they miss The Gospel.

Do you have a problem with God’s goodness? Maybe you should.

For the fame of His name.

~~~~

Cornell

Is the Bible a Work of Plagiarism?

I came across this interesting comic on the web (below). A teacher gave her students the following assignment: What is the “Golden Rule” and its source? The answers she got from her students are quite telling. In fact, many atheists use this example to illustrate why they think the Bible is not the Word of God but a mere fabrication of pre-existing (pagan) traditions.

thegoldenrule

Now, what is fascinating is that all the answers given by the students were correct, and factual. The problem is that some of the people quoted lived centuries before Jesus was born, and yet we often attribute the Golden Rule to Jesus (Matthew 7:12). But Confucius (551–479 BC) and Buddha (480-400 BC) said and taught the same thing and yet they lived hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

Similar examples have been cited as arguments against the validity of the Bible stories. Such as Noah’s flood. Many argue that the story was merely a Jewish adaptation of the Neo-Assyrian Gilgamesh flood myth found in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The myth, according to historians, is very similar to the Biblical stories and yet it existed centuries before the supposed period of Noah.

Do these examples disqualify the Bible? Many people believe so. Yet what such arguments against the Bible reveal is the arguers’ ignorance of what the Bible is and what the Bible does. The Bible is not God’s Word because it contains novel (new and unique) ideas about God. In fact, the reverse is the case, all true ideas about God that exist outside the Bible only prove that God is the author and owner of all truth. It is the reason R.C. Sproul has popularized the phrase: “all truth is God’s truth.”

Truth is truth, wherever you find it. To argue that only the Bible contains truth is to actually speak against the Bible, because the even the Bible claims that there is truth about God outside itself. Romans 1:19 actually says whatever may be known about God is available to even those who have never read the Bible. Psalms 19 talks about how nature teaches us about various attributes of God. Even Paul often  quoted pagan sages in the Bible (1 Cor 10:23).

The availability of truth apart from the Bible is actually an argument for God, not against Him. It is proof of His sovereignty — that  God is God over all people and all things, not just the Jews and the Christians. It is proof that those who will never encounter Christianity will not be judged unfairly, because “what may be known about God is “plain” to them (Rom 1:19).

No, the Bible is not a work of plagiarism. But it is a work that seriously needs to be plagiarized by you and me.

For the fame of His name.

Cornell