Sunday, 30 January 2011

Praying Privately in Tongues is Scriptural

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence
in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God

In the above Scripture, Paul allowed a person the option of speaking in tongues privately to God.

I CORINTHIANS 14:14-17 [With my comments inserted in brackets]:
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth,
but my understanding is unfruitful.

[Praying in tongues exercises my spirit, but my mind doesn't benefit]

15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will
pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit,
and I will sing with the understanding also.

[I have two different ways of praying or singing available to me: praying or singing with my spirit (i.e., in tongues, as in verse 14) and praying with my understanding (i.e., in my known language).]
["I will" is mentioned four times, indicating that it was the Corinthians' own responsibility to choose the most appropriate way in which to pray or sing, in any given circumstance.]

16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall
he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen
at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what
thou sayest?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not

[If you give thanks with your spirit (i.e., in tongues) although your giving of thanks is none-the-less valid, your guest can't benefit because he doesn't understand what you're saying.]

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with
my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others
also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

[The appropriate way to address a public gathering, is with your known language (or at least with an interpretation). But outside the public gathering you're welcome to speak in spirit - that is, in tongues without an interpretation - as often as you like!]

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Speaking in Tongues Without Interpreting is Okay

It's okay, if you're by yourself. Or, if everyone is doing it at the same time, as in Acts chapter two, or at Corenelius household, or at Ephesus.

Yes, Paul instructed the Corinthians that it served no purpose for individuals to hold the floor, address the congregation in a tongue, with no-one understanding.

He said the speaker himself was edified by it, but no-one else was.

He told them that if no interpreter is present, he should either pray to interpret themself, or else refrain from addressing the church in tongues, and instead speak to himself and to God.

Notice that - he could speak to himself and to God.

So there is a valid use of speaking with tongues even when a person is by himself. Even when he himself doesn't understand what he is saying.

Paul himself said that he spoke in tongues more than them all, but not in the church. He did so when he was by himself.

And tongues were not always languages known to people in the audience. If it was otherwise, there would have been no need for the supernatural gift of interpreting tongues. And it would never have happened that no man understood a tongue. And in that case, Paul's instructions to the Corinthians should never have been necessary.

But notice that it was possible - in fact, common - that tongues were not always understood by anyone present. And yet, in such cases, Paul never said that the tongue itself was wrong. He only said that there wasn't much point in addressing the congregation in an unknown tongue, expecting the congregation's attention, if no-one understands.

In such cases, Paul conceded that the person speaking is nevertheless edified himself; and he admitted that a person who gives thanks in tongues even though no-one understands, nonetheless gives thanks well. He admitted that speaking in the tongue could still be useful, if the person chose rather to speak it to himself and to God rather than publicly.

So my video encourages speaking in tongues not to address a congregation, but to speak in tongues privately to God. It points out that we have the prerogative to pray in tongues privately whenever we wish. We don't have to wait until the Holy Spirit takes full control of us. He never does that. He gives the utterance, but He does so in response to a choice of our will to pray in tongues rather than with our understanding. That's what my video is about.

Age of the Universe

How old was Eve, the day after she was made? One day old, of course. But she may have looked like a twenty year old, if we were trying to guess her age based on all observable rates of human growth ever since then.

How old were the fruit trees, on the day Adam was made? Three days old. But they may have looked seven to fourteen years old, if we were trying to guess their age based on all observable rates of fruit tree growth ever since.

In the beginning, they were made with the appearance of maturity, the appearance of age. But in fact, they were nowhere near as old as they looked, based on observations of how things have aged or grown ever since then.

The same can be said about geology and astronomy. We can observe how long things take - but we can't use this to conclude the ultimate age - because in the beginning God made things with the appearance of maturity, immediacy, age.

Light appeared immediately upon the earth, in one day. Oceans and dry land all over the globe were separated immediately, in a day.

Observable science can't prove that God didn't, in the beginning, do some things instantly, which now take years to achieve. Therefore the scientific method has to stop short of giving an ultimate age for things created. To do so is to deny the possibility that in the beginning, things could have been made to suddenly appear a certain way, even though science cannot prove - because it's outside the scope of what science can do - that this could not have happened.

Using the scientific method, we can't make a conclusion like this: "Based on quantifiable geological activity, we can assert that the earth is so many billions of years old".

All we can say, is: "We are observing the following quantifiable geological activity rates, but it is outside the scope of the scientific method to conclude one way or the other whether or not something more sudden and different might or might not have happened in the beginning."

To do otherwise would be to look at Eve the day after she was made and assert, "She's twenty years old". A person making such an assertion may be right in what they've observed of human growth rates, but they would still be wrong in applying that to Eve in the beginning.

And it could be the same with astronomy, geology and biology. Scientists may be right or they may be wrong in observing the periods of time that it takes things to happen. But they might be wrong if they used those observations to date when all things began (since from the beginning, things were made with the immediate appearance and function of age).

Stellar Distance Theory

In the currently popular model of stellar distance, which states that many of the stars are millions of lightyears away, wouldn't you think that every now and then, as the light of distant stars begins arriving on earth for the first time, that new stars ought to be appearing for the first time?

Shouldn't it be happening that stars which have never been seen before suddenly appear in the night sky, at full brightness, where previously no star has ever been visible? Like lights being turned on.

Or at least, wouldn't you think the Hubbel telescope ought to occassionally be seeing starlight appear where previously there was none?

I wonder if there is any historic record of this happening. I'm not currently aware of any such record.

I certainly haven't personally ever noticed any new stars.

We've heard of new stellar activity being observed - but only in stars that were already visible.

And we've heard of new stars allegedly being discovered - but these weren't cases of new starlight appearing for the first time, rather they were cases of new and stronger telescopes being used, enabling scientists to 'see' light that in fact was already arriving.

But I haven't seen any reports of starlight actually arriving for the first time ever.

Perhaps such reports do exist. I would like to know.

But if no new starlight is arriving on earth, becoming visible for the first time, it invokes a number of questions:

One, it could simply mean that if any such stars exist, they must be so far away from the earth that their light hasn't had time to reach the earth yet but will at some unknown time in the future.

In theory, this should mean that any day now, or at any time in the future, we could see a star or stars suddenly appear in the night sky. And in theory, it means that as time goes by and more and more new starlight reaches the earth, the nightsky should become progressively and measurably brighter.

It still presents another question though. If no new starlight has ever yet appeared, not even from a single new star, it means that any such new stars, if they exist, must be thousands of lightyears away from the nearest visible star. That represents a much bigger space between the stars than anything so far observed. How would you explain the uncharacteristically large space between stars at that place. It doesn't quite fit the scenario of a uniform big bang.

Another possibility is that all the stars might be moving away from the earth, and that the light of all stars is therefore already arriving at the earth.

If that's possible, then the record of the Book of Genesis can also be possible, which states that God made light and that it appeared upon the earth on the very day it was made.

A second question could be about whether there really are any stars so far away that their light hasn't already been arriving at the earth.

Or slightly differently: might all the stars actually be far closer to the earth than is suggested by currently popular theories?

To what extent might the variables in the methods used to calculate stellar distances, effect reliability? The word "guess" is used quite a bit, when such methods are described. You might be surprised how often it is admitted by those describing such methods, that such methods are only theories.

Origin of Species Theory

Are there any examples where the theory of single origin of species proved crucial as a starting point or as a contributing 'science' to any practical, modern scientific development (in any field, such as medicine or construction materials)?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tongues - Was it Always a Known Language?

Some people assert that Biblical speaking in tongues was always a language known to someone in the audience. The adjective unknown tongue, they point-out, is not in the original text.

Some also assert that the exclusive purpose of tongues was to serve as a sign to Jews from all around the world that the Gospel was also for the Gentiles whose languages they were allegedly now hearing being supernaturally spoken. There is not a single incident in the Bible, they claim, where speaking in tongues ever occurred without a Jew being present.

But Paul wrote that he that speakerh in a tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God, for no man understands him. Evidently then, it often happened even in the early Church that no-one in the audience understood a tongue that was being spoken.

If the gift of tongues was intended exclusively as a sign to Jews that the Gospel was also for the Gentiles, one would think that the Holy Spirit would make sure that He always and only gave speakers of tongues utterance in tongues that happened to be already known by Jews in the audience. But instead Paul implied that it often happened that no-one in the audience understood the tongues that were being spoken.

One of the gifts of the Spirit is the interpretation of tongues. If the tongues that were being given were always tongues that were already known by Jews in the audience, and if the exclusive purpose of speaking in tongues was to serve as a sign to those Jews, then one would think that there would never be any need for the supernatural gift of interpreting tongues. The fact that the supernatural gift of interpreting tongues was needed is evidence that very often no-one present - not even Jews from abroad - understood the tongues that were being spoken.

Paul also said that if no interpreter was present, the speaker of a tongue could pray that he could interpret, or else refrain from speaking publicly in the tongue and instead speak to himself and to God. Most of the members of the Corinthian church to whom Paul gave these instructions were Gentiles. Seeing it was possible that these Gentiles speak in tongues to themselves and to God without anyone listening, it means it wasn't necessary for Jews to always be present before speaking in tongues could serve a valid purpose.

The instructions which Paul gave concerning the public use of tongues, interpreting, and private use of tongues meant that there was a valid use for tongues even when no-one was present who might be able to understand the tongue.

Even in the event that the speaker of a tongue gave the interpretion of the tongue (because no other interpreter was present), as Paul suggested - even then, it couldn't serve as a convincing sign to Jews, since no-one present could attest to the accuracy or otherwise of the interpretation.

Paul mentioned a scenario where potentially everyone in a meeting could be speaking in tongues, and warned that if this action was to be taken, and an unbeliever walked in, the unbeliever would think they were mad because no-one was understanding. If the Holy Spirit gave tongues only to serve as a sign to unbelieving Jews, then this scenario wouldn't have been possible, and Paul's advice would have been uneccessary. It wouldn't have been possible for them to speak in tongues before an unbeliever had walked in. The Holy Spirit would have given them utterance to speak only when Jews were already in the meeting.

Or if He did give them the ability to speak even though a Jew was not present, then when the unbelieving Jew did eventually happen to walk in on the meeting, instead of thinking they were mad because no-one understood, he should have heard a language known to himself. But this isn't what was happening - instead, it was potentially happening that unbelievers including Jews were not understanding the tongues they were hearing - or else Paul's instructions were superfluous.

Paul said that if no-one understands a tongue and no interpreter is present, the speaker could speak to himself and to God. That shows a valid private use for tongues even when it's not understood and even when it's not serving as a direct sign to Jews.

Evidently then it was the exception rather than the rule that Jews sometimes understood a tongue that was being spoken. Most of the time they did not understand it, which is why Paul's instructions (concerning interpreting, or speaking instead to oneself) were needed.

But as for the sign aspect to tongues - if Jews needed that sign then, do Jews no longer need that sign? Of course they still do. The value of tongues as a sign hasn't ceased.

As for instructions on how to begin speaking with tongues, the Bible says they spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance. So the Holy Spirit gives the utterance. But the Bible also says, "I will speak with my spirit". So our own will to begin speaking is involved too.

The Holy Spirit who gives the utterance, and our own will to co-operate with the Holy Spirit by faith, combine to enable us to speak with a tongue. That explains the process of how a person begins to speak in tongues.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Flat Tax?

My starting premise is that the acceptance of excessively progressive taxation as being somehow 'fair' might be akin to the ethical relativism and moral liberalism that seem to be concomitant with redistributionist, socialist and communist societies.

Where excessive progressive taxation is regarded as fair, very often morals are also 'progressive'.

A restoration of absolutes is therefore desirable. And it seemed to me that such a restoration ought also to be reflected in - and assisted by - reform in our tax system, at least to some extent.

My thoughts centred around an attempt, as much as possible, to apply principles expressed by Moses' Law to a modern sophisticated economy - because although we are no longer required by God to adhere to Moses' Law in its entirety, the New Testament states that the Law is still a valuable source of ethics having something to speak to all areas of society including morals and economics.

Even though Moses' Law included no taxation per se, it did for example include the tithe. The tithe was not progressive in nature: it was a flat 10% for all, irrespective of one's income bracket. The tithe wasn't stepped according to a person's income - and yet God's Law defined that as just and fair. That seems a slightly different value to excessively progressive taxation.

In addition to the flat-rate tithe, the Law also required the payment by individuals of a set amount - the 'shekel of the sanctuary' - regardless of the individual's status or income. Far from being progressive in nature, this payment wasn't even a flat rate or percentage of income - it actually was the exact opposite of progressive because even the least prosperous were required to pay the set amount.

In fact I'm unable to recall a single example in Moses' economic system where anything like a progressive tax was imposed. Payments were made either at a flat rate, or they were a set amount - but there was nothing progressive. The only thing progressive was voluntary giving - which was not enforceable by the Law.

Even the required payments of the tithe and shekel of the sanctuary were not really taxes - because failure to comply was dealt with by God, not by the Judges.

That was in God's Law - taxation only came later once Israel demanded the Gentiles' political system.

In the New Testament however, Paul did say that Government is God's appointed agency and that as such, we ought to pay them appropriate custom and tribute.

The question I am considering therefore is: how to pay custom and tribute in a modern sophisiticated society, in a way that is consistent with the Mosaic (Godly) principles of fairness where nothing discriminatory or progressive was ever enforced - it was mostly a flat rate (although disproportionally sacrificial giving was commended, both in the Law and in the New Testament, when it was voluntary).

So in regard to a flat rate tax, numerous practical considerations came to mind, such as the feasability or non-feasability of redefining 'income' and eliminating deductions, exemptions and other taxes, thus broadening the tax base and maintaining tax revenue while at the same time lowering the tax rate.

The pros and cons of all such considerations have been well-studied by others. Several countries have implemented various forms of a flat tax, with apparent success.

An interesting consideration is that a flat tax - where the definition of 'income' has been broadened to incorporate or eliminate many other existing taxes (such as Company Tax, perhaps) - can have the effect of simplifying the tax system so much that the Government's need for administration and therefore for revenue shrinks considerably.

Not that revenue would shrink though (because of the broadened tax base achieved by the flat-rate). In country's where forms of a flat rate have been adopted, revenue increased so much that in some countries, the tax rate was able to be reduced year-by-year (although it has been argued by some that there might have been other reasons for their rapid economic growth besides the flat tax).

I think that where the adoption of a flat tax gives rise to new problems, if any (such as any disadvantage to the not-so-prosperous) - those problems could then be addressed with different strategies other than progressive taxation - with policies that don't alter the absolute concepts of fairness, of justice, of equality in the way that excessive progressive taxation seems to.

Excessive progressive taxation seems to compromise the absolute of fairness, in an attempt to help the less-prosperous (and progressive taxation can also be used politically, to raise extra revenue from a minority instead of from the majority of voters).

But a flat tax, coupled with other inevitable consequential societal adjustments and policies, might be a way of reinstating and then maintaining the absolute value of true fairness while at the same time giving remarkable opportunities to the less-prosperous.

Restoring the meaning of justice could have many positive ramifications in other areas of society besides tax. I guess that's why I dream about it.

It will be interesting to see what tax reform policies the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announces. I believe Mr Abbott - like many other politicians and economists throughout the world - may be considering reform in the direction of some form of flattening of our tax system. And admirably so, in my opinion.

Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson's proposed flat tax might have been a good eventual goal for Australia!


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Transformations - a Sample of How God Works

After a Wednesday night Holy Ghost meeting recently, my friend Pastor Michael shared with me about a young man who had recently joined the Transformation Ministries rehabilitation/discipleship program. The young man was at first not at all interested in the Christian side of the program, and said some expletives about Christianity, Michael said. Nevertheless, as part of the required program, he came along to the Wednesday night Soak.

At the Soak, Michael had been laying hands on some people, and they were filled with the Spirit and were unable to stand on their feet. The young man watched in awe, and came up to Michael in the middle of the meeting, grabbed his attention by the arm, and asked, "What's that?!"

Michael explained it, and the man said, "I want some of that!"

So Michael said, "How about you pray to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and then I'll pray for you".

"Whatever I've got to do - I'll do whatever I've got to do to get some of that," the young man said.

So Michael led him in prayer, and then laid hands on him - and as he began falling to the floor the young man exclaimed with joy, "Wohh! What's this! This is..." He felt it was amazing!

Another enthusiastic disciple in the Transformations program!

Saturday, 1 January 2011