Theology

Pencerahan Kaitan Rapat

Artikel ini bertujuan membalas kepada artikel oleh Menara.my yang bertajuk, “Kristian Di Malaysia Bersimpati Dengan Negara Haram Israel?” [1] Saya sebenarnya berpeluang menghadiri dialog tersebut dan telah menulis sebuah artikel mengenainya. [2]

Pertama sekali, tajuk artikel Menara.my ini memberikan tanggapan bahawa semua umat Kristian di Malaysia bersimpati terhadap Israel, namun dalam perenggan pertama, penulis artikel tersebut dengan tepat melaporkan bahawa apa yang dikatakan oleh Rev Hwa Yung adalah, secara umumnya orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia sememangnya bersimpati dengan Israel, atas sebab “our two faith are so closely linked” (kedua-dua agama kami begitu berkait rapat).

Adakah penulis artikel tersebut ataupun editornya menggunakan tajuk yang bersensasi (“sensational) untuk mislead mereka yang hanya membaca tajuk artikel tanpa pedulikan isi kandungannya?

Selain itu, penulis artikel itu dengan tepat memerhati bahawa “… Rev Hwa Yung tidak pula memperincikan apakah yang dimaksudkan dengan “our two faith are so closely linked”?”. Kemungkinan besar Rev Hwa Yung tidak memperincikan apa yang dimaksudkannya, kerana topik dialog tersebut, iaitu ‘Deceitful? Distracting? Or Dedicated? Evangelicals And Current Controversies In Malaysia’, tidak pun secara langsung berkaitan dengan isu pandangan umat Kristian terhadap negara Israel.

Artikel ini akan memberikan beberapa sebab mengapakah negara Israel dan agama Yahudi berkait rapat dengan agama Kristian. Saya ingin menyatakan dengan jelas bahawa poin-poin yang akan saya bangkitkan tidak mewakili Rev Hwa Yung, tetapi merupakan pandangan saya, sebagai seorang umat Kristian. 

Pertamanya, terdapat persamaan dari segi teks suci dan nabi-nabi. Tanakh yang digunakan oleh penganut agama Yahudi di negara Israel sama dengan Perjanjian Lama (“Old Testament”) dalam Alkitab (“Bible”) agama Kristian, walaupun buku-buku dalam Tanakh dan Alkitab disusun sedikit berbeza. [3]

Nabi-nabi yang disebut dalam kedua-dua buku suci dipercayai penganut agama Kristian sebagai utusan yang dihantar oleh YHWH [4] kepada umat yang dipilihNya.

Di samping itu, umat yang dipilih YHWH dalam Perjanjian Lama merupakan umat Israel (“Israelites”). Ini jelas dilihat dalam ayat-ayat Alkitab yang berikut: [5]

a) Mazmur 105:8-10:

“8. Ia ingat untuk selama-lamanya akan perjanjian-Nya, firman yang diperintahkan-Nya kepada seribu angkatan,

9. yang diikat-Nya dengan Abraham, dan akan sumpah-Nya kepada Ishak;

10. diadakan-Nya hal itu menjadi ketetapan bagi Yakub, menjadi perjanjian kekal bagi Israel …” [6]

b) Yesaya 41:8:

Tetapi engkau, hai Israel, hamba-Ku, hai Yakub, yang telah Kupilih, keturunan Abraham, yang Kukasihi;” [7]

c) Jeremiah 31:1

“Pada waktu itu, demikianlah firman TUHAN, Aku akan menjadi Allah segala kaum keluarga Israel dan mereka akan menjadi umat-Ku.” [8]

Bukan sahaja itu malah terdapat ramalan (“prophecy”) dalam Alkitab bahawa Mesias (“Messiah”) merupakan seorang umat Israel. Mari kita mengambil contoh, Bilangan 24:17 menyatakan bahawa Mesias merupakan bintang terbit dari Yakub (“star coming out of Jacob”):

“Aku melihat dia, tetapi bukan sekarang; aku memandang dia, tetapi bukan dari dekat; bintang terbit dari Yakub, tongkat kerajaan timbul dari Israel, dan meremukkan pelipis-pelipis Moab, dan menghancurkan semua anak Set.” [9]

Mesias juga diramalkan sebagai keturunan Daud, dan ramalan ini menerima pemenuhan dalam Yesus Kristus. [10] 2 Samuel 7:12-13 menyatakan:

“12. Apabila umurmu sudah genap dan engkau telah mendapat perhentian bersama-sama dengan nenek moyangmu, maka Aku akan membangkitkan keturunanmu yang kemudian, anak kandungmu, dan Aku akan mengokohkan kerajaannya.

13. Dialah yang akan mendirikan rumah bagi nama-Ku dan Aku akan mengokohkan takhta kerajaannya untuk selama-lamanya.” [11]

Tambahan pula, Mesias dikatakan akan dilahirkan di Betlehem. Mikha 5:2:

“Tetapi engkau, hai Betlehem Efrata, hai yang terkecil di antara kaum-kaum Yehuda, dari padamu akan bangkit bagi-Ku seorang yang akan memerintah Israel, yang permulaannya sudah sejak purbakala, sejak dahulu kala.” [12]

Matius 2:1-6 [13] dan Yohanes 7:40-43 [14] dengan jelas mengindikasikan bahawa Yesus memenuhi ramalan ini.

Lanjutan daripada itu, Alkitab menceritakan bahawa YHWH masih ada rancangan untuk Israel. Dalam buku Roma, bab 11, ayat 1 dan 2, firman YHWH berkata,

“1. Maka aku bertanya: Adakah Allah mungkin telah menolak umat-Nya? Sekali-kali tidak! Karena aku sendiripun orang Israel, dari keturunan Abraham, dari suku Benyamin.

2. Allah tidak menolak umat-Nya yang dipilih-Nya …” [15]

Dalam bab yang sama, ayat 25 hingga 29 memberitahu kita bahawa,

“25. Sebab, saudara-saudara, supaya kamu jangan menganggap dirimu pandai, aku mau agar kamu mengetahui rahasia ini: Sebagian dari Israel telah menjadi tegar sampai jumlah yang penuh dari bangsa-bangsa lain telah masuk.

26. Dengan jalan demikian seluruh Israel akan diselamatkan, seperti ada tertulis: “Dari Sion akan datang Penebus, Ia akan menyingkirkan segala kefasikan dari pada Yakub.

27. Dan inilah perjanjian-Ku dengan mereka, apabila Aku menghapuskan dosa mereka.”

28. Mengenai Injil mereka adalah seteru Allah oleh karena kamu, tetapi mengenai pilihan mereka adalah kekasih Allah oleh karena nenek moyang.

29. Sebab Allah tidak menyesali kasih karunia dan panggilan-Nya.” [15]

Adalah diharapkan dengan artikel ini bahawa mereka yang bukan beragama Kristian dapat lebih memahami hubungan unik di antara negara Israel, agama Yahudi, dan agama Kristian. Walapun terbuktinya sebuah kaitan yang rapat, kita perlu mengingati kenyataan Rev Hwa Yung yang kebanyakan “orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia bukanlah Kristian Zionis.” Secara amnya, mereka hanya bersimpati dengan Israel kerana kaitan rapat yang telah diperincikan di atas.

[1] https://www.menara.my/kristian-di-malaysia-bersimpati-dengan-negara-haram-israel/

[2] https://rebuttedopinions.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/post-dialogue-reflections/

[3] https://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/YHWH

[4] https://www.hsutx.edu/hsubb/learningobjects/overviewoftheoldtestament/attachments/Canons_of_the_Old_Testament.pdf)

[5] Lihat juga ayat-ayat seperti Ulangan 7:6-8 Ulangan 14:2, 2 Samuel 7:23-24, 1 Raja-raja 10:9
1 Tawarikh 17:20-21, Mazmur 135:4, dan Yesaya 44:21

[6] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=19&c=5

[7] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=23&c=41

[8] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=24&c=31

[9] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=4&c=24

[10] Lihat Matius 1:1, Lukas 1:32-33, dan Wahyu  22:16

[11] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=10&c=7

[12] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=mikha&c=5

[13] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=matius&c=2

[14] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=yohanes&c=7

[15] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=Roma&c=11

The Use Of “Allah”

The whole “Allah” issue has somewhat been a thorn in our flesh. Just recently, Selangor MB, Azmin Ali exclaimed that the siezed Bibles belongs to the Christians and should thus be returned to them.

Abu Bakar Yahya (Selangor Perkasa chief) then expressed his concern that Azmin’s action of returning the Bibles with the word “Allah” in them would “…threaten the future of Malay Muslim youth. This means Islam is under threat”

Despite the fact that the Christian Federation of Malaysia wrote an article explaining when, why, and how the word “Allah” is used in the Al-Kitabs, there is still a general lack of understanding amongst Malaysians.

Let me now clarify that I’m not a religious scholar or even remotely trained in the field of comparative religions. I am just a Malaysian who is trying to be objective about the use of the word “Allah” by Christians

Let us consider the following propositions:

Proposition 1: “Allah” is an arabic word

Many academics hold the view that the word “Allah” is derived from the arabic words “al” (the) and “ilah” (god/deity).

“Allah is formed by joining the definite article al meaning ‘the’ with Ilah (God). Literally, Allah means ‘The God’.” [Huston Smith, The World’s Religions, p.222]

“Etymologically, Allah is probably a contraction of the Arabic al-ilahh, “the God,” although the Aramaic Alaha has also been proposed. The origin of the name can be traced to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for god was Il or El, the latter bring in the Old Testament synonym for Yahweh. Known to Arabs even in pre-Islamic times, Allah is standard Arabic for God and is used by Arab Christians as well as Muslims.” [Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia (Vol. 1; p. 250)]

Renowned Iranian-American scholar of religious studies, Reza Aslan also supports this proposition

[d] (k) r ‘l’-’lh bn’mt Mnfw w-Tlh’ bn Mr’ l-Qys w-Srgw bn S’dw w-Strw w-Syl [.] thw.

The apparent scribblings above is actually a pre-Islamic archaeological inscription (dated ca. 512AD) found in Zabad (60km south-east of Aleppo) that shows the word al-ilah was already used by Christians then

Operating on the assumption that “Allah” was derived from “al” and “ilah,” the only apparent requirement to the use of the Arabic word would be monotheism. As we all know, words must be used according to its meaning, and in the proper context

A huge misconception is that Christians believe and worship three gods, hence their usage of the “Allah” word is erroneous. That could not be further from the truth!

The doctrine of the Trinity refers to ONE God who exists as THREE distinct persons. The fact that Christians believe in and worship only ONE God would render their usage of the word “Allah” according to its meaning and in the proper context

If “Allah” is truly an Arabic word, it’s definition would be based on its meaning and not what the Qur’an says in Surah Al-Ikhlas (112th Sura of the Qur’an) or what other sources say are the prerequisite to the use of the word

Many scholars have also brought forward the idea that the use of “Allah” predates Islam

The word ‘Allah’ was a term used for the supreme God in a pantheon of gods, before the revelation of Islam. (The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam ed., H.A.R. Gibb & J.H.Kramer and The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito)

“The name Allah is also evident in archaeological and literary remains of pre Islamic Arabia” (Dr Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret , New York:OUP, 1956, p. 31)

“Allah is found . . . in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam” ( Encyclopedia Britannica, I:643)

The translation of the Al-Kitab is not from the English translation but based on the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible. In the Hebrew language, the word ‘God’ has the same root form as the Arabic language. So, when the word ‘God’ was first translated into Bahasa Malaysia, the translators merely followed the Arabic Christian usage and retained the word ‘Allah’

Historically, Malay-speaking Christians in South-East Asia have used ‘Allah’ to refer to God. The proofs are as follows:

• The Kitab salat as-sawai or Christian catechisms in Malay written in 1514 and published around 1545,

• The printed version of the Gospel of Matthew in Malay by A.C. Ruyl in 1629,

image

• Malay-Latin Dictionary was printed in Rome in 1631 (The Dictionarium Malaicum-Latinum and Latinum – Malaicum)

• The translation of Genesis by D. Brouwerius (1662),

• M. Leijdecker’s translation (1733),

• H.C. Klinkert’s translation (1879),

• W.A. Bode’s translation (1938), and

• The complete Malay Bible of 1731-1733 containing the word ‘Allah’ for God.

image

There is also a book from the 19th century titled “Porkara Terakhir” (The Final Matter). It is a book of prayers for Catholics in native Malay. A text in the book goes, “Ia, Maha Penebus ku, tiap kali beita sudah buat dosa, sudahlah beita mengalau angkau deri hati ku, sambel choba membunoh Allah sabuleh nha…” It is a day-to-day language of the ancient or olden Malay Language; sentences like that do not exist in the Indonesian language

Furthermore, there is a Catholic prayer book titled “Worship Daily”, published in 1890, which also used ancient Malay. An example of a text in the book is “Sapuloh Penhurohan Allah”, which is the 10 Pillars of Biblical Commandments (Ten Commandments). Note how both of those books use the word “Allah” to mean God

Not many of us are aware by this but even the Sikh holy book mentions “Allah” quite a number of times. Surprisingly we don’t hear the likes of Perkasa and ISMA creating a ruckus over this fact.

Proposition 2: “Allah” is not an Arabic word

“Allah … is a proper name applied to the Being Who exists necessarily, by Himself, comprising all the attributes of perfection, a proper name denoting the true god … the al being inseparable from it, not derived…” (Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon)

If Allah is not an arabic word, is it only exclusive to muslims considering their worldwide usage? In January 2013, PAS’ Syura Council decreed that “Allah” is a specific and holy word used to refer to the Muslims’ god

However, former Perlis mufti, Dato’ Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said that Islam allows for followers of other faiths to call their gods “Allah” if they are referring to the Supreme Being

Swiss-Muslim theologian Dr Tariq Ramadan is also of the opinion that “Allah” is not exclusive to the Muslims

According to Francis Edwards Peters , “The Qur’ān insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews (29:46)

If indeed no one but the muslims are allowed to use “Allah,” wouldn’t Saudi Arabia (where Islam came from) and Indonesia (the country with the largest population of muslims in the world) have said/did something about it a long time ago?

Instead, what we see is that the usage of “Allah” is tolerated and is not even a point of contention in those countries (unlike here in Malaysia)

Now let’s look at some frequently asked questions

FAQ 1: Why must the Christians use BM?

First and foremost, BM is the national language. On top of that, more than 60 per cent of Malaysian Christians only speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the word used for God in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Al-Kitab) since its translation in 1731, is ‘Allah’.

The word is used by Bumiputera Christians who only have Bahasa Malaysia as their common language in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, and by the Baba community in Malacca.

Nowehere in English, Tamil or Mandarin church services would you hear the word “Allah” being mentioned

FAQ 2: Why don’t Christians use “Tuhan” as the BM translation for “God”?

The current position in the Al-Kitab is that “Tuhan” is used as the BM translation for “Lord” while “Allah” is used for “God.” In Isaiah chapter 41 and verse 13; also 43:3 and 51:15. “For I am the LORD, your GOD…” is translated as “Akulah TUHAN, ALLAH kamu…”. (ALKITAB : Berita Baik. 2001. 2nd edition. Published by the Bible Society of Malaysia).

It creates an absurd situation if Christians have to translate the biblical phrase ‘Lord God’ as Tuhan Tuhan. The repeated words Tuhan Tuhan indicates plurality in Bahasa Malaysia, and creates the false impression that Christians believe in many gods, which is fundamentally incorrect theologically

FAQ 3: Why doesn’t the Vatican or Christians in the West use “Allah”?

The answer is pretty simple. If “Allah” is an arabic word for “God”, the Vatican and the Christians in the West wouldn’t need to use it because they have other word(s) in their language(s) to mean “God”

A basic analogy would be the word “makan” which is the BM word for “eat.” How come we never ask why the Vatican or Westerners don’t use the word “makan”? That’s because it’s common sense that in whatever language they speak, there would be a word/words that mean “eat,” hence there is no need for the word “makan”

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI used “Al-Rab” when giving a blessing in Arabic. Many Malaysians then got the idea that instead of using “Allah,” why not follow the Pope and use “Al-Rab”?

First of all, Al-Rab is arabic for “The Lord” and NOT “The God.” Therefore, even if the Christians in Malaysia were to use “Al-Rab,” it would only be replacing the word “Tuhan” and not the word “Allah” in the Al-Kitab

Besides that, the literal meaning of the word “Rab” is Sustainer , Master and/or “Nourisher” which bears more resemblance with the English word “Lord” than “God”

FAQ 4: Why not use “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” instead?

The answer is similar to that of FAQ 1. Jehovah is a Latinisation of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH). YHWH is in ancient Hebrew which has no vowels, thus its pronunciation is not agreed on.

However, most academics agree that “Yahweh” is the most accepted way to say it. In some English language Bibles, YHWH is written in all capital letters as “LORD,” as in Jewish tradition

Jehovah and Yahweh are in English. The issue is, how do we convert the original Hebrew word to BM in order that it may be used in the Al-Kitab? And even IF that’s possible, how do you change hundreds of years of using “Allah” to this new word?

Sources:
Christian Federation of Malaysia’s article
Project Dialogue’s interview of Father Andrew 
The Micah Mandate
Bible Believers
PLIM Report
Sikhi Wiki
The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Some Christian denominations claim that the New Testament (NT) salvation, baptism of water, and baptism of the Holy Spirit (HS) are concurrent acts, while others believe the acts are separate

Concurrent = happen at the same time, simultaneous. Acts 2:38 is often mentioned to support the claim that salvation, water baptism, and Spirit reception is a single act with three different aspects to it

Acts 2:38
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

How can this verse be used to indicate that salvation, water baptism, and the baptism of the HS are concurrent acts? This verse can be read two ways.

Firstly, when you repent and be baptized, you will receive the HS (supports concurrence). Secondly, after you repent and be baptized, you will receive the HS (contradicts concurrence).

So this verse does NOT clearly indicate that salvation, water baptism, and baptism of the Holy Spirit are concurrent acts.

Acts 8:13
13 Simon (the Sorcerer) himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Phillip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw

My Point (MP): Acts 8:13 tells us that Simon the sorcerer was baptised. Was it of water or of the HS? Or both, as some claim it’s concurrent? The verse on its own doesn’t tell us much

Acts 8:18-19
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money
19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

MP: It is now clear that Simon’s baptism was of water because he wanted the baptism of the HS. So Simon believed, underwent water baptism but had not received the baptism of the HS

How then can salvation, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit be concurrent? Of course one verse isnt sufficient evidence to refute the concurrence claim. Let us now look at Acts 10:44-48

Acts 10:44-48
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues (or other languages) and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have”
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days

MP: Here we see that after Peter spoke to the crowd at Cornelius’ house [made up of his relatives and close friends (Acts 10:24)], they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Did they believe? Most likely. Were they baptised of water? No, according to Acts 10:47-48. Here we see again that salvation, baptism of water, and baptism of the HS are not concurrent and/or in that specific order.

If Peter were to disallow the gentiles at Cornelius’ house to be baptised of water, they would only be saved, and be baptised of the HS. Thus, it is perfectly possible to have received salvation, undergo the baptism of the Holy Spirit yet not be baptized of water

Acts 19:1-6
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when (or after) you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 On hearing this, they were baptized into (or in) the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues (or other languages) and prophesied

MP: The disciples at Ephesus believed and received John’s baptism (i.e. water baptism) but have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Again we see the incoherence of the concurrence claim with Scriptures

Conclusion
The verses above show us that salvation, water baptism, and baptism of the Holy Spirit are different acts. Therefore, the concurrence claim is greatly flawed.

Similarly in today’s context, the baptism of the HS does not come automatically with salvation. It can come by the laying of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:18, Acts 19:6), by hearing the message (Acts 10:44) or any way God wants because His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and He’s capable of doing anything!

The Bible and Its Translations

There is a grave misconception amongst non-christians that the Bible is no longer accurate as its meaning has been lost due to translation

First of all, let us understand why the Bible is translated. The Old Testament (OT) was originally in Aramic and Hebrew while the New Testament (NT) was in Koine (common) Greek.

How many of us are able to read in those languages? That is exactly why the Bible needs to be translated! It is basically so that people all over the world may be able to read the Bible in their native language

For example, in Malaysia, we have the bible in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Tamil, and in the Iban language (a.k.a Bup Kudus). Without a Bible in a language understood by the reader, one may not be able to practice & profess his religion properly

After you have understood that, you may be wondering why then are there so many English translations? Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone used the same first ever English translation?

The explanation is quite simple. Over the years, certain English words like “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen” are no longer used and need to be replaced by words of the same meaning that are understood by the reader

Although there are various versions of the English Bible, the different translations always use the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and texts as their textual basis.

For the NT, the New International Version (NIV) relied on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament while for the OT, the NIV looked into the Biblia Hebraica Masoretic Hebrew Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, Juxta Hebraica of Jerome

Meanwhile, the New Living Translation (NLT) used the Greek New Testament (UBS 4th revised edition) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition in translating the NT, as well as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with some Septuagint influence for the OT

If you are still unconvinced as to the accuracy and consistency of the Bible after translation, let us look into the popular verse of John 3:16 in different translations

1. New International Version
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. New Living Translation
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

3. English Standard Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

4. Holman Christian Standard Bible
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

5. NET Bible
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

6. Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.

7. GOD’S WORD® Translation
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life

8. World English Bible
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

So is the Bible inaccurate due to translation? Absolutely not! Although the Bible has been translated into many languages, the translation is done without altering the meaning of the original word used. No one who translates the Bible dares to change anything because of what is said in the Word of God

Proverbs 30:6
6 Do not add to his (God’s) words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar

Deuteronomy 4:2
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you

Revelation 22:18-19
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll
19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll

In actual fact, the Bible is very much like the Al-Quran in the sense that has been translated into various languages. Everyone knows that the Al-Quran is originally in Arabic but did you know that English and Bahasa Malaysia translations exist?

On top of that, the different sources (e.g. Sahih International, Muhsin Khan, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Dr. Ghali) have come up with transliteration of the Al-Quran. What is all this for if not for the convenience of the readers? 

Similar to the Bible, I believe no scholar/organisation in charge of translating would dare to alter the meaning of the original word for fear of divine repercussions

*Featured at The Malay Mail Online

The Bible’s Stance On Homosexuality

Homosexuality by far is one of the most controversial issue that plagues today’s churches. Some denominations have openly declared their support for same sex marriage & relationships while some have maintained their stance that it is a sin in the eyes of God

There is no point debating this issue from a human rights point of view as it is a religious point of contention (for Christians at least). Therefore, it would only be correct to look to what Scriptures have to say about it 

Point 1: God’s plan

It is a fait accompli that in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. Eve was created as a companion/helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18)

The Bible then goes on to say in Genesis 2 that a man will be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. This is reaffirmed in Mark 10

Genesis 2:22-24
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh

Mark 10:6-9
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

If Jesus approved of homosexuality, why would He mention the exact opposite? Jesus (in Mark 10) reiterated God’s stance that homosexuality is NOT a part of His plan. God intended for the unity of flesh to be between a man and a woman  

It is important to note that thousands of years existed between Genesis and Mark yet Jesus articulated heterosexuality, thus reaffirming what was said in the Old Testament

Point 2: The example of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 19:1-7
1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them,
he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old- surrounded the house.
5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him
7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one often used to illustrate that God is against homosexuality. As a result of all the grievous sins committed, God “rained down burning sulfur” (Genesis 19:24) on Sodom and Gomorrah.  

The fact it is stated that “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old” surrounded Lot’s house and wanted to have sex with Lot’s guests shows us that homosexuality was prevalent then

There is an interesting argument I came across recently. Matthew Vines brought up Ezekiel 16:49 in his video to support his claim that God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality

Ezekiel 16:49-50
49 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I
did away with them as you have seen

From Ezekiel 16:49, it looks as if God rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah for reasons other than homosexuality. Verse 50 goes on to say that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah did things that were detestable before God

Just looking at Genesis 19 and Ezekiel 16, it is very subjective as to whether homosexuality amounts to a thing detestable before God. However, Matthew Vines failed to look at Judges 19:22-23 (another biblical example about homosexuality) and Jude 1:7 (which is also about Sodom and Gomorrah)

Judges 19:22-23
22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing”

“Disgraceful thing” is also translated as “outrageous thing,” “godless thing,” “folly,” and “horrible thing” in other versions while “evil” and “wickedly” is used to replace “vile”

It seems now that homosexuality is something God detests. If God was fine with it, why would it be regarded as evil, wicked, or vile?

Jude 1:7
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire

The King James Version uses “going after strange flesh” to replace “perversion” while the International Standard Version and God’s Word Translation replaces “perversion” with “homosexual activities”

Romans 1:26-27 tells us that unnatural relations, indecent acts with those of the same gender = perversion

Matthew Vines’ point about “love,” “commitment,” and “faithfulness” is irrelevant as the Bible regards unnatural relations & indecent acts with those of the same gender as perversion. The motive does not render the detestable act acceptable!

After analysing Judges 19:22-23, Jude 1:7, Romans 1:26-27 and its various translations, we can conclude that homosexuality was one of the reasons why Sodom and Gomorrah was wiped out.

Point 3: Jesus did not abolish the Law

Matthew Vines used Hebrews 8:13 and Romans 10:4 to show that the Law (including that in Leviticus 18:22 about homosexuality being detestable) has been fulfilled by Jesus, thus making it completely acceptable now

Hebrews 8:13
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear

Jesus in Matthew 5:17 explicitly tells us that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. Does it mean now that the Law has been fulfilled, it is no longer applicable and relevant?

If Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law renders it inapplicable, does it mean we can now misuse the name of the Lord, commit murder, commit adultery, steal, worship idols, curse our parents, and have sexual relations with our close relatives?

Of course not! What Matthew Vines failed to do is read Hebrews 8:13 in its context. Just a few verses before, we see that even in the New Covenant, the law has a role to play

Hebrews 8:10
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people

Romans 10:3-4
3 Since they (the Israelites) did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes

Reading verse 3 as well gives “the end of the law” a completely different meaning. In the Old Testament, the Israelites strictly obeyed the law in order to get right with God and be righteous (Deuteronomy 6:20)

Christ came and brought that specific law to an end in order that God’s righteousness may be available to all who believe (Jews and Gentiles alike) 

However, the Ten Commandments, the law on homosexuality being an abomination (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), etc are still required to be followed although we are now saved by grace!

Romans 3:20
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Obedience of the law does not guarantee our salvation or gain us God’s righteousness. What is does is help us identify what is sinful and what needs to be avoided!

Point 4: Homosexuality = sexual immorality

Oxford Dictionary defines ‘sexual’ as
(1) relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals;
(2) relating to the two sexes or to gender;
(3) (of reproduction) involving the fusion of gametes

“Immorality” is defined as
(1) the state or quality of being immoral;
(2) wickedness

From the definition of the two words, it is very apparent that homosexuality falls within the ambit of sexual immorality. What is intriguing is that the Bible has plenty to say about sexual immorality.

(i) Hebrews 13:4
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral

(ii) 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 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
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

* The phrase ‘men who have sex with men’ translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts
* Arsenokoitēs is a portmanteau of arsen, the Greek word for man, and koite, the Greek word for bed (active homosexual act)
* Malakoi literally means “squishy.” Linguists generally understand this word to be a form of showy effeminism (passive homosexual act)

(iii) 1 Timothy 1:9-10
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine

Conclusion

The Bible’s stance on homosexuality is very clear cut. God regards it as a sin/an abomination/something detestable and He definitely did NOT create humans to be homosexuals

However, what is also important is that Christians are called not to judge others(Matthew 7:1). The duty of Christians is to lead the lost (all those who are living a life of sin) back to the right path and Christians have to do so with love!

1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 Corinthians 6:11 adds on that although we were once ‘sexually immoral, isolators, adulterous, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers’, we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God

It’s not too late to turn back to God regardless of what sin(s) we have committed!