Ask Daniel Thejus (June 10-14, 2019)

danielthejus
(Kathleen) #1

Hello, friends! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM, @Interested_in_Philosophy, @Interested_in_Government)

This coming week we are very excited to have Dr. Daniel (Bobby) Thejus on Connect to answer our questions! Dr. Thejus is a Speaker and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society (India). After completing his undergraduate course in economics, politics, and sociology, he completed his master’s degree in philosophy with a gold medal from Madras Christian College. His passion to understand the times led him to earn a PhD from Madras University. His research focused on Amartya Sen’s idea of justice, identity, and democracy.

Apart from his research interests, he is interested in speaking about and discussing topics like:

  • Jesus
  • Religion and Life
  • Ethical Concepts and Dilemmas
  • The Gospel and Identity
  • Christian Pleasures
  • Restorative Justice and Capability

And here are a few of his talks for your listening pleasure!
A Gentle Philosophy of Success
A life well lived so that others may live well
Jesus and Judas: An Unlikely Friendship

8 Likes
(Tabitha Gallman) #3

Hello Dr. Thejus,

I am currently reading “Thru The Bible” with J. Vernon McGee. To some people Mr. McGee’s commentary is outdated and to others (like myself) I tend to agree with most of what Mr. McGee says.

I am currently reading in 2 Samuel 21 where God tells David that the famine he and his people are experiencing is due to “Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” I know this goes back to Joshua 9:14 when the Israelites did not inquire of the Lord before making a treaty of peace with the Gibeonites and later Saul breaks the treaty during his reign when he kills the Gibeonites.

Mr. McGhee writes in his commentary:
"I am of the opinion (and will you follow me now very carefully) that we are in the process of dissolution as a nation. There are several evidences of God’s judgement upon us. Let me mention several things.

Since World War II it has been our intention to be a peacemaking nation yet to live in sin. Believe me, friend, after World War II Americans started plunging into sin. Also, we could not quit fighting. There has not been a moment since World War II that our troops have not been fighting somewhere. If it isn’t Korea, it is Vietnam. It if isn’t Vietnam, it is in Europe or on some other continent . We are talking peace today as we have never talked it before; yet there is no peace. Isaiah 57:21 says, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” "

My question is: Does God still judge entire nations before the great day of judgement?

Thank you for your time,

Tabitha

2 Likes
(Josh) #4

Hi Dr. Thejus,

I was recently reading Romans 9:1-23, where Paul is talking about God creating vessels for both honourable and dishonourable use for the purpose of glorifying Himself to His people. He uses Pharaoh as an example in verse 17, as God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate His glory through Him.

So my question is this:
How can God judge vessels He prepares for dishonourable use, such as Pharaoh, for having a hardened heart, when God is doing the hardening?

Thanks,
Josh

3 Likes
(Daniel Thejus) #5

Dear Josh,

Jews and Christians often perceive everything that happens in the universe as God’s will. Hence, even if Pharaoh freely chose to harden his own heart it will still be considered God’s will. Because everything that happens in this universe, even if we choose freely, does not escape his will.

Further, if we observe Exodus 7:13 it tells us that Pharaoh had the free-will to cause his heart to grow hard.

You may also want to read the text from Jewish lenses. Pharaoh, the Egyptian God, has treated the Israelite’s ruthlessly, slaughtered their children and has held them back against their will. They have now reached a point where they believe that only their God - Yahweh - can change Pharaoh’s disposition because he is more powerful.

That explains why Pharaoh seems to be competing with Yahweh by attempting to replicate the signs and wonders that occurred. This, in turn, causes Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

An analogy by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe might help here,

“the sense in which God hardened his heart is similar to the way the sun hardens the clay and also melts the wax. If Pharaoh had been receptive to God’s warnings, his heart would not have been hardened by God. But when God gave Pharaoh a reprieve from the plagues, he took advantage of the situation. “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them [Moses and Aaron], as the Lord had said” (Exodus 8:15).”

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Daniel.

4 Likes
(Josh) #6

Thank you very much for your reply, it is very helpful.

Josh

2 Likes
(Daniel Thejus) #7

Dear Tabitha,

It is true that God in Old Testament times judged entire nations. That is because, in many cultures, it was often the practice for people from a nation to completely align themselves to the will of their rulers. Even today, in many parts of the world, it isn’t strange to observe that when a village head decides to vote for a particular political party the entire village will back him up on that decision. Or if the head of a family decides to become a vegetarian the entire family will accept the change of menu.

You must approach the texts you have quoted keeping this in mind. This helps us understand why entire nations were judged for the mistakes of their rulers.

However, even in those instances, there are outstanding examples like Rahab and Lot who were spared because they didn’t agree with the decisions of their rulers and the majority.

The same holds good even today. We all don’t agree with the moral decisions of our rulers. That is why, I believe, God will approach each situation and each person according to their relationship with Him.

Regards,
Daniel.

4 Likes
(Tabitha Gallman) #8

Thank you so much Daniel for your reply. That makes so much sense and I see how the will of the individual person in modern times is always put above God’s will out of selfishness and maybe mostly ignorance. It can be a scary thing reading God’s word when it’s not read in context to it’s history.

If I may, (since I just came across this verse this morning), I’d like to ask one more question in regards to 2 Samuel 23 verse 5. What does the last part of the verse refer to when David writes: “…for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” (KJV) Is David referring to his house, salvation or desire for God not to grow?

Thank you,

Tabitha

( KIRAN KUMAR) #10

Hi Thejus,

I am from India, my question is why God would punish endlessly (hell) , based on the finite life (approx 70 years) that we have on this earth ?
I am not atheist, I am a Christian but it would be so helpful to me if these doubts gets cleared.

Thanks
Kiran

(Charles G. Pewee) #11

Hi Dr. Thejus, I am glad to have you engaging with us this week.

What pieces of advice will you give a christian on how to deal with moral issues in political positions and the work place? I would like you to consider other religious beliefs and practices, and LGBT rights as you help me out with this question.

Thanks!

(Brian Fritz) #12

Would Israel have been delivered from slavery in such a miraculous way as the scriptures delineate all the plagues and the fight it took to flee into the desert if Pharoh’s heart was soft? Could it be that the fight against the pantheon of Egyptian gods evidenced by the miracles hammered into history the sovereignty of Almighty God and the destruction of Egypt? If there wasn’t a fight, why would all the tribes leave?

(Joshua Mathew) #13

Hey Daniel
i have few questions for you…which i think…only an Indian apologist can answer
1.Whenever i invite my hindu friends to church …they ask me why dont you come to temple to worship their idols or why dont you eat prasad.Why are being a hypocrite by wanting us to come to your worship place …but at the same time…you dont want to come to our worship place?. How will you respond to this question?? Actually i have seen this question being raised by many RSS minded hindus in social media like quora and facebook

2.How will you respond to people of SANATANA DHARMA …who tries to depict hinduism as the oldest and the most perfect religion and tries to depict chrisianity as the religion of cruel god

3.In this current scenario of India …where people are increasing made aware and are being warned about the conversion tactics(as they call it)…how should we spread gospel

2 Likes
(Daniel Thejus) #14

Dear Kiran,

That’s a very interesting question.

Two quick clarifications,
One, we don’t know what eternal means. We tend to use the word forever. But ‘forever’ is sequential. It is interesting, however, that ‘forever’ is often used in the context of love. Perhaps it is a reminder that we have been created in the image of an eternal loving God.

Two, while thinking about heaven and hell is important, it is also good to bear in mind that the reason Jesus came was to affirm that God is Love and the purpose of his resurrection was not only to send us to heaven but more so to transform us into his likeness.

Keeping these two clarifications in mind, as humans we are invited to worship him. We usually worship what we love. And by worshiping Christ we are made more in his likeness bearing eternity in our hearts. Worship in this sense is the foretaste of things to come. It is like how children role-play anticipating the future.

For those who reject God intentionally, considering all things (motives and experiences), are also rejecting the eternal image of God in them. They instead worship everything other than God. Now, if worship is seen as role-playing for the future then, it is possible, that these people are unwilling to anticipate God in the future.

It is not God’s desire but it is theirs.

I hope this helps.
Regards,
Daniel.

1 Like
(Kirk) #15

Hello Daniel,

I am co-leading a Men’s Ministry, and would like to discuss with them John 17, generally known as the Farewell Prayer, or the High Priestly Prayer. Can you suggest some useful reference materials, or even your own insight, that could assist me?

Thank You!

Kirk

(Daniel Thejus) #16

Dear Joshua,

You have raised three very important questions that every Indian Christian has to reflect on. Here are my personal thoughts on the matter.

  1. It is reasonable for them to expect us to reciprocate their invitation. There are two ways around this situation. One is to go along with them, observe, learn and pray. The other is to explain to them why your conscience doesn’t permit you to go. Very often they understand.

When we invite our Hindu friends to Church we are not expecting them to worship Jesus (if their conscience doesn’t permit them to), while they may, in any case, do so. But more importantly, we would like them to come into contact with the beauty and mystery of the cross of Christ.

  1. The tendency to assume that if something happens to be older then it must be true is prevalent in many parts of the world. To see through this faulty assumption we can point them to history, science and psychology.

However, the more important and complex issue is to help them see how Sanatan Dharma also hopes for a Saviour.

  1. Christians must stay away from any conversion tactics. It is not Christlike to employ such tactics. Jesus didn’t use tactics nor did the early Church. We must help our friends from other faiths see that we don’t have a political agenda, nor are we interested to report an increase in conversion to the west. Rather, like Jesus, we are genuinely interested in their eternal well-being.

For that to be seen, the gospel has to be preached as an extension of our lives and not as a separate standalone, after-thought or post-script.

Finally, if you follow the gospels closely we notice that Jesus is not interested in techniques instead, he identifies the real need of the person and offers Himself as the solution. And that takes us back straight to a loving God on a cross who identifies with man in the depths of his existence and then raises humanity up into something glorious.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Daniel.

3 Likes
(Daniel Thejus) #17

Dear Charles,

In a secular country, we must be open to varied ideas and positions. However, we ought to insist that the other side should reciprocate the same when we disagree with them. Because, very often, especially in the west, the Christian position is ignored or jeered at.

Must we engage? I think we must engage with the moral positions of others without condemning them. While I think it is important to communicate the reasonableness of the Christian position our moral posture in these arguments must be clothed in grace and love.

How do we engage? Natural Moral Law argues for the Christian position appealing to reason without referring to the Bible yet upholding the biblical position. Being familiar with those arguments will come in handy. Many of C.S. Lewis’ books are a good start.

Why are we engaging? We must also be able to gently point out the logical outcomes of their choices and the chaos and meaninglessness that might ensue. And as an alternative creatively offer Jesus as Logos - the one who can bring order and meaning into their lives.

All the best as you engage with your circle of influence.

Regards,
Daniel.

1 Like
(Charles G. Pewee) #18

Hi Dr. Thejus, thanks so much for your insightful response. It’s is very helpful.

(Daniel Thejus) #19

.Dear Kirk,

That’s a great prayer to discuss. “The Assurance of our Salvation” by Martyn Llyod Jones is an excellent resource.

However, I would like to throw in my two (three) pence.

First, Jesus’ prayer must be set against the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur. This is when the High Priest makes expiation for himself and for the rest of Israel before the sacrifice is made. Here we see Jesus simultaneously taking on the role of the High Priest and the sacrifice when he prays for the apostles, and for us future believers.

Second, It is interesting to follow how Jesus’ request to be glorified begins with Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, insults and the cross. Yet, Jesus’ obedience driven by love unpacks the mystery and reality of the glorious resurrection. He is glorified through his supreme act of love and obedience. This encourages us to hope in the fact that our obedience, albeit often causing pain if done as an act of love eventually results in something glorious.

Finally, the prayer is to point to the manifestation of God’s presence in our midst. His presence in our midst also sanctifies us and in the process, we reflect his presence by the things we love and the love that we share with each other. This consecration is our testimony (John 17:16-19).
When we consecrate something it symbolises that it has been made ready for some spiritual use. Now that we have been consecrated by Christ we need to be ready to be used for his purposes.

I’m sure as you unpack this text, together as men, you will glean a lot more than this. I really do hope you enjoy your time of reflection.

Regards,
Daniel.

1 Like
(Kim O.) #20

Daniel,

Thank you for being here. My question is in reference to God and identity. I recently read an article https://www.hrc.org/resources/what-does-the-bible-say-about-homosexuality, and had almost the same discussion with a friend online. It is around sexual identity. I am not clear on how to respond as he came from a very conservative background and has done “due diligence” withe scriptures. I know that one can take a high view or low view of scripture. I guess what I’m wondering is how one gets there. And how to response specifically to the gender issue.
Thanks,
Kim

(Emmanuel Danhi) #21

Hi @daniel,
I have faith in Christ, although I do not have all of the answers to defend my faith in Him ,I know that My redeemer still lives.

Now what I am struggling with his my future. Though I read and Meditate many scriptures which assures me that “God will never leave me… He will lead me … Nothing can separate me from His Love …”, I have this little fear in my heart that I might be missing the point ,which will ultimately lead me to not be what GOD’s want me to be at a particular time of my life .

The main reason for this feeling is this : I have been so unsecured in myself because of the many things that I lack . As time goes on , the situations of life seems to confirm my intellectual infirmities .

I have completed my BSc in Actuarial Science in 2016, I have been applying for work since then ,but never got hired. I finally decided to work with my brother in law. But all the while I have been applying in universities to pursue a master degree in finance ,yet no favorable answers( financial needs or no admission offer).

When I look at all this I feel I am a problem to God’s plan for my life .
My question is can my weaknesses be a hindrance to God’s plan in my life ? Or can my weaknesses delay God’s plan in my life?

(Daniel Thejus) #22

Dear Kim,

Thank you for your very thoughtful question.

Very often people make the argument that the Bible is outdated. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how issues that humans faced then are issues that we continue to face even today. St. Paul would have been very aware of homosexuality in Greek culture and literature when he was writing the epistles.

Even otherwise, the Bible offers us a framework, to understand what God expects of us. And what God expects is good for our overall well-being. The author of the blog is right when he says that in many ancient cultures, it appears as though women were bought as property. But, that clearly is an abuse of what God intended. The author of Genesis gives us a framework to think about relationships. For instance, a woman is described as having the same essence of man (Genesis 2:23). The writer of Genesis also hints that this relationship is unique, special and significant (Genesis 2:24).

Further, marriage was intended to complement each other at all levels of human existence between two individuals who become one. If you follow the Genesis narrative, the entire process of creation has two complementary parts coming together. For instance, heaven and earth, sea and dry land and ultimately male and female. The intention is for two complementary parts to come together as one to fulfill some higher purpose. All of this ultimately culminating with Jesus and the Church; where Jesus being different yet pledges himself to humanity.

It is this sense of oneness “ehad” that the Bible describes “God,” in whose image we are made, and “marriage.” This sense of oneness is not possible in same-sex relationships. This is not to say that homosexuals cannot have deep and meaningful relationships. But marriage is not merely an emotional, cultural or racial union it is, in the biblical sense, and also very important, physical. This physical aspect has an additional purpose, even from the standpoint of view of evolution, to multiply and bear fruit.

Sexuality, indeed, is a wonderful gift from God and we accept it with gratitude. I also believe that homosexuals are loved and treasured by God, and John 3:16 stands testament to the fact that God loves us all. Our identity ultimately rests in the fact that we are loved by God.

In that case, it seems rather unfair to limit our entire identity to our sexuality. Just as it will seem unfair to limit my entire identity to my choice of meat. Jesus in the New Testament renews our identity by inviting us to die to ourselves (Mark 8:34) so that we may resurrect a renewed self. This is a call to every Christian.

I hope this helps you along your journey as you continue to reflect on these issues.

Regards,
Daniel.

1 Like