Chrislam

Q. In spite of your usually tolerant attitude, I assume you cannot tolerate the new cult of Chrislam, arising in Protestant churches. Many Christians think that Allah is the same as Yahweh. What is your view?

A. My tolerance goes as far as the Bible goes, hopefully no more and no less. Chrislam is an attempt to merge Christianity with Islam (syncretism), assuming they only call the same God by different names. My view is that those who try to blend the two do not know the God of the Bible at all.

Christians believe in the Triune God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – Three Persons in One God. We believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and that salvation is available only through Him:

Jn 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
• Jn 10:30 I and the Father are one.
• Jn 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
• Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name (Jesus Christ) under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Islam, on the other hand, believes that Allah has no sons, that Jesus was only a prophet lower than Mohammad, and certainly not God. To Muslims calling Jesus God is blasphemy. It is not a matter of calling the same God by different names because of different culture, but fundamentally different. They are poles apart. How anyone can reconcile the two is beyond me. The two are irreconcilable and can never be. It is simply Satan blinding the minds of the unbelieving so that they can’t see (2 Co 4:4).

Healing of Paralytic

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Q. I have a question on Mark 2:1-12. I always think that by simple reading of what has been happening, Jesus’ purpose in asking the question in Mark 2:9 was to demonstrate that it would be easier to say ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ than ‘Your sins are forgiven’; yet He chose to say the more difficult statement of ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (NIV) that would invite criticism of blasphemy. However, recent reading of lots of commentaries say the opposite, that it is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ because it would not be possible to judge whether a person’s sin was really forgiven than saying ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ which would prove Jesus Himself a false prophet if this saying was not immediately materialized. But right after this, Jesus also said ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’, which confuses me further if this question is a more difficult one. What had Jesus in mind when asking the question in Mark 2:9? Is it just a rhetoric question that He did not expect an answer? So, which is easier then, or that it doesn’t matter if it is a rhetoric question?

A. To say something is one thing, to back up what you say is true is another. If Jesus were to simply say, “Son, your sins are forgiven”, it can’t be verified as it is invisible. However, if Jesus said, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk”, He is putting His reputation on the line. If the man did not walk, He would be proven a false healer/prophet. If the man did walk, it does not necessarily prove His deity, since God’s servants can heal by God’s power too. But by saying both and healing the man, He is demonstrating that He has the power to do both, including forgiving sins which is God’s prerogative.

Secondly, the friends’, the scribes, and the people all perceived the paralytics’ need to be healing. Jesus’ is the only one who saw his real need is forgiveness. What good is it to have both feet whole but sins unforgiven and end up in hell?
* Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
* Mk 9:45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,

So Jesus addressed the real need first, but also the perceived need to prove that His forgiveness is real by healing the man. So in this case I think the commentators are correct. I don’t think it’s a rhetorical question.

Was Pilate Guilty or Innocent?

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Q. Thinking back to illustrations and children’s books from childhood, Pilate is often portrayed as a bad guy. Reading the scriptures now, it seems Herod was always out to get Jesus, but it was Pilate who tried to save Him. He tried to release Him, but in the end he gave into the crowd’s demand to release Barabbas instead. Was Pilate guilty for his actions (he was scared of the people and gave into what they wanted instead of standing up for Jesus) or ‘innocent’ (he was put in his role to fulfill God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified)?

A. Yes Pilate did try to acquit Jesus, five times as a matter of fact:

1. The first was after he interrogated Jesus: Jn 18:38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” This was also recorded in Lk 23:4
2. The second was after he sent Jesus to Herod: Lk 23:14-15 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.
3. The third time was after he had Jesus flogged: Jn 19:4 Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.”
4. The fourth time was after the Jews chose to release Barabbas: Lk 23:22 And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
5. The fifth time was when he finally gave up: Jn 19:6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”

He even claimed innocence in sentencing Jesus to be crucified:
Mt 24:27 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.”

The first clue of something wrong is why punish Jesus when he found no guilt in Him? And after examining all the evidence, my opinion is that Pilate was guilty and responsible for his role, based on the following. First, his background.

Pilate was the Governor of Judea and Samaria from AD 26-36, answerable only to Emperor Tiberius, not the Jews. However, he had a checkered past in his relationship with the Jews as seen in his handling of:

1. Civil disturbances. Lk 13:1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He was a ruthless man who did not hesitate to use force.
2. Taxes: To build aqueducts he used temple funds, which was strongly objected by the Jews.
3. People: He brought into the temple troops carrying shields and standards bearing the name of Tiberius, which the Jews considered sacrilegious and complained to Caesar.

Not counting the first incident, there were already two strikes against him. So even though he despised the Jews, he was careful to protect his own neck lest they complain to Caesar again, who would dismiss him.

When the Jews first brought Jesus to Pilate, he asked them what were the charges. The Jews tried to evade by saying if He were not an evildoer, they would not have delivered Jesus to him (Jn 18:30). Note that in the Jewish trial before Caiaphas the charge was blasphemy (Mt 26:65; Mk 14:64). But blasphemy was not a capital offense under Roman law, so they changed the charge to sedition:
Lk 23:2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man (1) misleading our nation and (2) forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that (3) He Himself is Christ, a King.”
As governor Pilate’s job was to keep peace, to collect taxes, and to squelch any rival to Caesar, so naturally this aroused his attention.

The first accusation was an outright lie. (2) was exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught:
Mk 12:17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
(3) was true, but not in the political sense:
Jn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
So when Pilate found that Jesus was not talking about a physical kingdom but a spiritual one, he wasn’t concerned and said in Jn 18:38 “What is truth?”

But Pilate was a seasoned politician and always looking for a way out, so when he learned that Jesus was a Galilean and under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod. He did not do things right with the Jews, as a result they had a hold against him. He then played the political game and tried to shift the responsibility to Herod. But why, after repeatedly finding Jesus innocent, did Pilate gave in?

I believe it’s because Pilate’s bottom-line was himself. As governor he was also the judge and required to be just, but he was on report already, and afraid of what this might do for his career. He had the army at his disposal, but if he set Jesus free, there might be a riot (Mt 27:24), or the people might report to Caesar, and he would be finished. In the end he chose political expediency over justice. He gave in to pressure and made the wrong choice; he lacked the courage to stand up for justice. He was afraid to stand up for Jesus because of self-interest, hence his guilt.