Ask Jacob Cheriyan (October 15-19, 2018)


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

We have the opportunity to ask our questions of @Jacob_Cheriyan this week! Please take the courage of ‘going first’ with your question - many others likely have the same concern and will benefit from this discussion.

It is awesome for us, whether we live in India or another part of the globe, to have this opportunity to interact with a member of the RZIM India speaking team!

If you want updates for future weeks with the RZIM team, join the @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM group or update your notifications to ‘watching first post’ for the #ask-rzim Category.


Jacob Cheriyan’s bio:

Jacob Cheriyan is a Speaker and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society. After completing his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering he went on to do an MA in Biblical Studies. After completing his MA he pursued an MDiv in Theology and Apologetics from SAIACS. Apart from Theology and Biblical Studies, Jacob’s general areas of interest are Philosophy, History, Psychology and Literature.

Jacob has spoken in various settings like university campuses, churches and corporates. He has contributed to research projects at RZIM and published many articles for the magazine ‘Engage’. He is also involved with content creating for the RZIM social media project.

Jacob and his wife Sithara make their home in Bengaluru, India.

(Bill Brander) #2

Jacob, may I ask a simple question, please?

If I am correct, Thomas was the apostle who went to India to establish Christianity there. What was the general religion in India in those days?

Thank you


(Jacob Cheriyan) #3

Hi Carson. It is a real privilege to be part of ‘Ask RZIM’ this coming week. Looking forward to it. Also grateful to you for the work that you are doing with connect. I have benefited a lot personally by interacting in the different forums. Sean does an amazing job at facilitating. I gain a lot of perspective from his replies.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #4

Hi Mofokeng,
Thank you for your question. Yes it is true that the Apostle Thomas came to Kerala during the first century. The dominant religion at the time was Hinduism. Though they might not have called it that then. But the pantheistic and polytheistic worldview was very prevelant at that point in time as it is now.
The apostle Thomas is said to have done many miracles in south India. He established seven churches. But even though Christianity came to India through Thomas 2000 years back, the percentage of Christians in India is still just 2%. It has not had a significant impact in India like how it has made in several other nations. Many studies have attributed the fact that Christianity never engaged with the intellectuals and the high philosophy of Hinduism. This is where Apologetics is so crucial because it gives us the tools to dialogue with the worldview and the deeper philosophical assumptions.

(Bill Brander) #5

Ah, Jacob. Your response is more encouraging than you think. Thank you

This morning in his sermon our pastor said something along the lines of, ‘We are called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ, not debaters, not apologists.’ I sat there squirming in my seat because as a trainee apologist I disagree.

And if I am understanding what happened in India centuries ago, then there is a need to be ready to “debate” my beliefs with some people. (Always remembering that “behind every question, there is a questioner.”) So thank you for lifting my spirit, Jacob.


(Jacob Cheriyan) #6

I’m glad it was encouraging bill. Yes we are called to defend our faith. I guess many still see apologetics as just giving evidence or cold logic. But if we as apologists can show that we can defend our faith with other worldviews with gentleness and respect without conpromising on the truth, then they would be more convinced about our endeavour.
All the best in all your journeys ahead bill. Pray that you are able to use your apologetic skills for the great glory of God.

(Andrew Bulin) #7

Hey there Jacob,
I had a chance to interview a Hindu friend who is a native Indian. His worldview sounded like there is a persistent “spiritualism” and an appreciation for religiousity. But he made it quite clear that he felt most people do not really believe in the supernatural as much as common good will towards others will help propel good thoughts and actions. Through meditation, one can be better connected to this world, but there seems to be little by way of a religious understanding or expectation of the supernatural.

My question: is India experiencing any widespread secularization as western thought and science becomes more prevalent and the Indian people spend more time in STEM education? If so, how would this help or hinder in spreading the Gospel?

(Olivia Davis) #8

Hi Jacob! Thanks for joining us.

I was delighted to see that we have a common interest in literature!

How do you approach using literature in apologetics? Are there any specific pieces of literature that you find yourself going back to again and again?

Thank you :slight_smile:

(Stewart Andres) #9

Hi Jacob I’m wandering about the 1000 years in Revelations 20 and what you and the rzim team can make of it. Is a literal 1000 years or symbolic Thousand Years.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #10

Hi Andrew,
Thank you so much for your question. Yes it is true that India is a land of spirituality and appreciation for religion. The existence of God is a presupposition that almost all people share.
Regarding the education system and secularisation, well it is true that because of the STEM education people’s mindsets are changing. But this is a good thing because now they are more rational and logical in their thinking which is making them relook at their religious beliefs and the ideas of supernaturalism in it. But do note that this is among the middle and upper middleclass in India who have access to such type of education. A lot of the Indians do not fall under this category and their worldview is steeped in the supernaturalism and other fantastical aspects of Hinduism.
My opinion is that because of the advent of science and critical thinking, apologetics becomes a very useful tool to spread the Gospel. They are unsatisfied with their inherent religious practices and is looking for a certain level of rationality when it comes to God and worship, which their religion just doesn’t seem to offer. This has also resulted in many emerging Hindu apologists who are giving a rational defence for Hinduism and showing it to be rationally tenable. This is a significantly new phenomenon in India as Hinduism has never sought to or found the need to be this way before. I am attaching a few links of those who are in the forefront of such an endeavour

So yes I do believe that the education system does help in spreading the Gospel and Apologetics is needed in India than ever before. People are open to listening and is hungry for a God who makes sense in the mind as much as He does in the heart.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #11

Hi Olivia,
Glad to know about your interest. Literature is an amazing discipline that helps open the mind to much deeper realities. Rooting themes in common literature helps people immediately grasp the concept because they are familiar with the story. Of course as a Christian apologist I see myself always referring to Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Dostoevsky’s works, Tolstoy’s works and Jane Austin. Apart from that I also look into Indian epic literature such as the Ramayana and the Bhagavadgita to get a sense of the themes that are spoken about in the religious literature. It does revel some very interesting insights.
What type of literature are you drawn to Olivia? And what value do you see in them?

(Jacob Cheriyan) #12

Hi Duke,
Thank you for your question. Sorry about the long answer to your short question. But there is no easy way to answer this. I cannot presume to know the view on this particular aspect of Revelation by everybody in the RZIM team or RZIM as a whole. It depends on who you ask this question to. But this is also the beauty of the body of Christ, that we hold on to the Bible as the word of God and push ourselves to do the best we can to interpret it.
Rather than Just saying a yes or no, it is best that we look into the different types of interpretations for the book of Revelation.
Revelation as you know is a very unique genre. It is a mixture of Apocalyptic literature (like Daniel), prophetic literature (like Ezekiel) and finally it is a letter (Like the Epistles). It is a Revelation to the apostle John while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. Because of the complex nature of this genre, many people have used different methods of interpretation. The methods of interpretation you chose will help clarify your question about the 1000 years. The best way would be to go through the four methods and see what you feel is the best method for interpretation. Accordingly you will be able to understand for yourself about the symbolic or literal nature of the 1000 years.
Just to help you out, there are four dominant ways of interpreting Revelation:

  1. The Idealist view: This view employs the allegorical methods of interpretation and looks at the images and numbers as symbolic.
  2. The Preterist view: This view suggests that the events in the book of revelation have already happened during the 1st century and relate to the Roman Empire.
  3. The Historicist view: This is also symbolic in nature, but the symbols points to certain people and events throughout church history such as during the protestant reformation, Enlightenment, Charlemagne etc.
  4. The futurist view: This view shows that the events in revelation will happen at a particular time in the future and takes the symbols and numerics in the book literally. So in this view, it would be a literal 1000 years.
    I am attaching a few articles which can help you have a broader understanding of these four views. Whatever method you chose to interpret Revelation, it should be done carefully and with much prayer. A right understanding of Eschatology is essential for right living.
    If you want to go even deeper I highly recommend this book. It shows you the four views from the best scholars of the particular view. The authors also state why they chose that particular view and how it best explains all the events mentioned in Revelation.

You might be unhappy that your question is not immediately answered with a yes or no Duke. But that is okay, many times it is not a simple straightforward answer that is the best for us. God wants us to probe deeper. To use the resources that He has given us to understand the different points of view and then come to a conclusion from all that we have looked into. It is a way of loving our God with our minds.

(Carson Weitnauer) #13

Hi Jacob,

I’m so grateful we have this opportunity to grow with you this week. I was wondering if you could jump into a conversation in #daily-evangelism, started by @Olivia_Davis, on Sikhism:

I would be curious to hear of any insights and encouragement you have for this question.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #14

Thanks for reposting the question here Carson. I have had a few encounters with Sikhs. Just to give some background the religion was founded by a saint called Guru Nanak about 500 years back. We can fairly say that the religion is a mixture of Hinduism and Islam and you can see both the flavours in the religion. Guru Nanak’s context would suggest that he had Hindu as well as Islam influences.
A few of the characteristics of the religion that can help us build bridges are:

  1. It is a monotheistic religion
  2. They understand the value and sacredness of Holy Scripture
  3. Selfless service is considered one of the highest virtues
    These are great starting points for us as Christians to build on. Unlike other eastern religions where we have to get around pantheism in the first place, Sikhism believes in monotheism. They also have a clear distinction between creator and created.
    One of the biggest challenges though is to prove the Deity of Christ. Their strict monotheism would not be able to conceive of God in flesh. It’s almost as unthinkable as it would be for a Muslim. Their high theology negates any kind of God in human form. But here too if we approach Jesus Christ as the epitome of selfless service and sacrifice. To show that everything Jesus did was out of His love to the Father. That His death on the cross was the climactic act of God’s selfless act to mankind, forgiving our sins without expecting anything in return. This can be a good approach for them to consider Jesus and His life. I have noticed that when I approach it from this angle, they give a listening ear and is interested to find out more because it resonates with their worldview.

(Stewart Andres) #15

Jacob I’m sorry I did not expect a yes or no, or for your answer to represent the rzim team. I was just seeing if you and the team at rzim had discussed it. Thankyou for the reading material I will be definitely reading it.
Thankyou for taking the Time to answer my question the best you can. And I will be more careful in the future with my questions.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #16

HI Duke,
Oh thats not a problem at all Duke. Your question was a very important one. One that we should think about seriously. I was unable to give a flat symbolic or literal answer because the question warrants for a much deeper look. That is why I sent a larger framework for analysing. Hope you found it helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions that you want in any way that you feel fit. This forum is built for you to explore any questions you have so that by moving through it, we can all learn from each other.
God bless

(Samuel Biswas) #17

Hi Jacob, I have 2 questions.
My question is on Matthew 19:28. Does Jesus referring to the 12 discpiles to sit on thrones to judge Israel tribes include Judas, as in NIV version it says " you who have followed me…" which includes Judas as well. Does that mean irrespective of Judas betraying Jesus he still is in heaven. I’m struggling with this question very much.
Secondly why was polygamy allowed in old testament and not now ? People often answer it with respect to patriarchal society, but it was patriarchal back then as well now in 21st century. Why did God allow that to happen where as Genesis says the Two shall become one. Please help.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #18

Hi Sam,
I went through a few commentaries to look into Matthew 19:28. The beginning of the verse starts with, ‘Truly I tell you, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of His glory’. This does not signify an actual throne like what the kings sit on, but Jesus is symbolising Glory, splendour and Kingly authority. And it is within this context that the rest of the verse needs to be understood.
12 is a very important and sacred number for the Jews. That is why even when Judas fell out, they choose Matthias in his place. It is very possible that the verse refers to that 12, not Judas.
I will attach a few online commentaries which gives some helpful perspectives.

(Jacob Cheriyan) #19

In regards to your second question on Polygamy. Just because God allows something, it does not mean that it is His desire for human beings. We see right from the book of Genesis that Gods plan for humanity was one man and one woman. As you rightly said from Genesis, a man and a woman were called to become one flesh.
But humanity has always rebelled against Gods plan and God in His grace allows this to happen but doesn’t mean He condones it. We see the disasters that polygamy brings in the lives of David and Solomon.
What we always need to point ourselves back to is the intended created order by God, the world and human relationships before the fall.

(Tara Pauls) #20

Hi Jacob,

Hi lead a small group of teenage girls at my local church. We were studying Luke 15:1-7, The parable of the lost sheep. One of the girls was particularly concerned that Jesus would leave all of the rest of the sheep in the wilderness while he searched for the one which was lost. She was worried about all of these sheep wandering off and getting lost themselves, or killed. I did not know how to answer her question. What advice do you have for me?