One of the main contentions of atheists is that human suffering disproves God because a loving and merciful God would not allow it. Some Christian leaders have tried to counter this by promoting a prosperity gospel in their megachurches. But unfortunately, those efforts are misguided and demonstrate a poor understanding of what Jesus came to do and why God created us. The result is that when many people lose their faith when they don’t experience the promised “health and wealth.”
The fact is that when a population has massive suffering, the Christian population grows. In his book On Guard, William Lane Craig gives three examples of this (pages 164-5):
China – Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution killed 20 million Chinese and generated massive persecution of the Church. However, since 1977 Christianity has grown more than ever in history. Researchers say there were as many as 75 million Christians in China by 1990. Craig calls Mao “the greatest evangelist in history.”
El Salvador – A 12-year civil war, earthquakes, and market collapse caused 80% of the population to live in poverty. As a result, the percentage of Christians in El Salvador grew from 2.3% in 1960 to 20%.
Ethiopia – In 1960, Christians made up 0.8% of the population, and war, repression, and famine killed millions of people. Christian martyrs who tried to address the problems of that country were numerous. In 30 years, the Christian population grew to approximately 13%.
People who believe human suffering disproves God turn to survival of the fittest as the only purpose in life. However, they may lose their will to survive when confronted with human greed, selfishness, and materialism. Christianity has the only answer to pain and suffering in this life.
The persecution of Christians inChina continues to be severe. It is estimated that there are 60 million Christians in China, but half of them are in unregistered churches. Our Chinese materials are mostly in the hands of unregistered Christians, and a vast percentage of those are in university settings. A new tactic against the gospel is a Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government.
American missionaries were able to take large numbers of Chinese Bibles into the country before the government’s crackdown. The Chinese government has answered that by producing a state version of the Bible. A high school textbook published by the Chinese government quotes their version of John 8:3-11. This passage is the account of a woman taken in adultery and brought before Jesus by the religious leaders. The leaders cite the Old Testament law saying that she should be stoned. In verse 7, Jesus says, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The Chinese government quote of this passage is quite different. In the Communist version, Jesus says that the law has to be enforced, and he stones the woman to death.
This has been called “the Communist Christ,” and it is a very different Christ from the one we read about in the Bible. It is also a vivid demonstration of what happens when Christianity gets mixed up with politics. The atheistic Communist government twists the biblical teaching to fit their agenda.
We emphasize Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount) and Matthew 22:21 (about rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s). We do that keep biblical teaching pure and not tainted by the political agenda of the day. Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government is nothing new. People who claimed to be Christians distorted Christ’s teaching to justify slavery in America. Others today use the Bible to justify abortion and immorality.
The Chinese government has started taking religious leaders to “re-education camps.” The State Department of the United States reports that the religious leaders are beaten and tortured in the camps until they are willing to say, “There is no God, there is only the Communist Party.” Since 2016, seventeen-thousand Buddhist monks and nuns have been placed in these camps.
The Chinese government has forced Catholic churches to accept new bishops appointed by the Communist party. Pictures of President Xi have replaced portraits of the Virgin Mary. The government has ordered online bookstores not to sell Bibles. The Communist Party is preparing its own Mandarin Bible, which will say that “the state leads and the church follows.”
Christianity in China dates back to ancient times. Since President Xi Jinping took office, he has instituted religious re-education in China. He has overseen the destruction of most, if not all, church buildings. Bibles have been burned, and any structure with a cross on it has been destroyed. Christians should pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters as the destruction and persecution are only getting worse.
One of the enduring questions with the COVID-19 virus is its origin. We know that it came from the wet markets in Wuhan, China, but it is essential to look at what practices led to this pandemic. No one in the scientific community denies that epidemics and pandemics begin when a pathogen moves from one species to another. We need to consider how God’s hygienic food laws which He gave to the Israelites prevented epidemics and pandemics.
When you read the Old Testament, you see all kinds of restrictions on food. Those include not only what the Israelites could eat, but also how it was procured and prepared. From the earliest times, eating blood was forbidden (Genesis 9:4). Any preparation that allowed blood to remain in the meat was prohibited, so an animal that was strangled could not be eaten. Eating anything that had died on its own was forbidden (Exodus 22:31 and Leviticus 17:15). Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 give a long and tedious list of what could be eaten and what could not. There were even instructions on how to prepare the meat (Exodus 12:8-9).
The practice in the Old Testament was that eating meat of any kind (other than fish) was a rare situation and usually only for the wealthy. The main diet was grains and fruits. When humans began to build cities, this dietary practice changed, but the early Christians retained much of the Old Testament diet and restrictions. (See Acts 15:29; 21:25.)
As humans moved away from the biblical instructions of God’s hygienic food laws and the handling of animals, they instituted some very dubious practices. The July/August 2020 issue of Skeptical Inquirer (pages 20-24) carries a discussion titled “Did Superstition Cause the COVID-19 Outbreak?” The article describes traditional Chinese beliefs about meat and other byproducts of wild animals.
In China, much of the food is distributed in wet markets. In these markets, fish and a variety of other animals such as bats are slaughtered and gutted on-site to guarantee freshness. In places like Wuhan, the ground is wet with melted ice and the blood of various species. The animals to be slaughtered are kept alive in closely packed open cages where the blood and feces intermingle.
When we read through Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we may feel burdened with what appears to be an endless list of restrictions and rules. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that the wet markets’ environment is conducive to the spread of disease. Epidemics of the past can be related directly and indirectly to cultural practices that would not have happened in the Israelite culture in the day of Moses. We have new problems today because of the size of the human population and the closeness of animals of all kinds and humans. The COVID-19 tragedy is a reminder of the wisdom we see in God’s hygienic food laws in the Old Testament.
From 1980 until 2016, the Communist Chinese government mandated a one-child policy, which led many couples to abort female fetuses because having a male child offered many advantages. As a result, China now has 34 million more males than females. Fudan University professor Yew-Kwang Ng has proposed wife sharing as an academic solution to “men’s physical and psychological needs not being met.”
Ng argues that Chinese prostitutes already serve more than ten clients in a day. He added that making meals for three husbands won’t take much more time than making a meal for one husband. Ng says these facts prove that allowing women to have many husbands is a solution to the imbalance created by the one-child policy. You can imagine the response the wife sharing proposal received on social media. The backlash may prevent the Chinese government from implementing this proposal.
The point here is that when humans throw out one of God’s laws, there are always problems with collateral damage. As America throws out one standard of behavior after another, we wonder what the consequences will be. God’s plan for men and women works. The problem is that humans always want to find an alternative to God’s plan, and the result is catastrophic.
Atheists and the atheistic media are using the coronavirus to attack those who believe in God. They have taken the refusal of several extremist religious figures to practice social distancing and used it as a club against Christians. There is no justification for blaming Christians for COVID-19.
The New York Times and Salon.com cite Jerry Falwell Jr.’s reopening of Liberty University and the actions of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne as “crippling our coronavirus response.” Numerous atheist journals and websites have repeated those claims. This smear technique is an old tool of those who wish to attack others. Blaming Christians for COVID-19 is like saying that because Hitler hates Jews, all Germans hate Jews.
What Falwell and Brown are doing is in contradiction to the Bible. Romans 13 finds Paul telling Christians, “Submit yourselves to the governing authorities…He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted …” Paul goes on to say that God uses these rulers to help us. That is indeed happening in this pandemic. The fact is that Christians can worship anywhere, and Jesus made it clear that “where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). It seems that Howard-Browne is either ignorant of Romans 13 or has his eye on something other than spiritual matters. We suggest that finances are involved in both cases.
Washington Examiner writer Timothy Carney said, “It was entirely predictable that the Left would blame Christians for spreading the virus. Nothing is more satisfying to secular liberals than to look down on believers as self-deluded anti-science rubes.” The fact is that the virus started in China, where Christians make up less than 3% of the population. It has gone wild in places like New Orleans and New York City, which are hardly places where Falwell and Howard-Browne’s followers dominate the population.
Those blaming Christians for COVID-19 need to stop bashing God and Christianity and do what many Christians are doing. The followers of Jesus are serving those who can’t get out by delivering food and medicine, making face masks, and providing transportation for those who need it.
As I write this in Mid-February of 2020, over 2000 people have died from the coronavirus known as SARS-COV-2 or COVID-19. The cause of the virus has been the subject of many television shows, research papers, and religious rants. Scientific evidence concerning the virus is pretty clear, but the media has spread wild claims by nutritionists, religionists, and holistic practitioners that have misled many people. It is essential to separate the snake oil sellers from valid research and holistic claims from valid medical treatment. What is the origin of disease?
There are always religious extremists who will say that diseases like the Coronavirus are God’s punishment for sinful human beings. That claim violates the nature of God, and it is unsupported by the evidence. James 1:17 tells us that God is the giver of every “good and perfect” gift, and verse 13 clearly indicates that He does not tempt us with evil. Jesus never sent disease or punishment on any human being–not even Judas. By the same token, God does not prevent the natural consequences of sin or bad choices. Judas chose to destroy himself, but God did not strike him dead. It would be contrary to God’s nature to send a disease that would kill innocent people for any reason, and children and older adults are dying from this coronavirus.
So what is the origin of disease and the COVID-19 virus? Virtually all of the infectious diseases that humans experience are transmitted to humans from animals. HIV came into the human population from monkeys, and the SARs group of viruses came from animals. Many viral agents cause no problems for an animal, but when they are transmitted to humans, the virus runs wild and can kill. HIV causes no problems in monkeys, but when it gets into the human body, the result can be death. The coronavirus started in Wuhan, China, and appears to have begun in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Eating animals that are carrying the virus or keeping animals with the virus as pets make it easy for humans to become infected.
The Bible was written long before people understood bacteria, viruses, or the importance of personal hygiene. Despite that, it advised hygiene practices and ways of securing and preparing food that minimized the chance of epidemics like the one we are experiencing now. It appears that animals in China carried the virus, and due to Chinese diets and food preparation methods, it got a foothold in humans. COVID-19 creates an acute respiratory syndrome disease that quickly spreads from human to human and especially threatens people with weak respiratory systems.
Our materials have been used in China for many years. Our DVD series was translated into Mandarin, and many years ago, we helped arrange for a Chinese national to duplicate the DVDs in large quantities and distribute them throughout China. We are now hearing from our contacts in China about an increase in Chinese persecution of Christians.
For several years, churches have had to register with the government. Now the government is placing surveillance cameras in the churches to monitor congregants. Churches that refuse to allow the cameras are being shut down. All churches with a cross on their buildings have had those crosses taken down, and images of Christ are replaced with pictures of Xi Jinping.
One congregational leader expressed the dedication that our brothers in China have. When he was arrested, he told an American visitor, “I have lost my congregation, my freedom, and I am starting to lose my health. I have cried to God, ‘Why are You letting me go through this?’ I now see that the persecution is a formula for revival. As I read Exodus 3:7-8, I see God aware of the miserable bondage His chosen people endured for 400 years, but He was not indifferent to their sufferings. As we pray, we can rest in the fact that we are part of God’s wise and caring plan, no matter how inscrutable that plan may appear to human eyes.”
It isn’t only Chinese persecution of Christians. We hear similar stories from Nigeria, India, Eritrea, and Pakistan. Our prayers are with our brothers and sisters in these countries. New laws restricting and persecuting Christians are being considered in New York, California, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Satan makes a mistake when he uses these direct attacks on the Church because it will wake people up. The revival that results will defeat him. We are not revealing names or sources here for obvious reasons.
We happened to run across the following article, which appeared in our printed publication in the year 2002. Based on what has happened since then and current trends, we think this dated article is worth sharing here. The title was “College Evangelism Needs.”
“This past August, we were privileged to be able to be a part of a meeting of campus evangelism workers at Tucson, Arizona. One of the undeniable facts about the history of the Church in China is that because very little evangelism was directed at students in China before, during, and after World War II, the communist found college students to be the main tools of the takeover of the government. Great leaders frequently come from the college ranks, and the need to get college students to realize that God is real and that they need a relationship with God to make their lives full and complete cannot be overemphasized. In the past 25 years, the Church has tended to move away from the college campus, and those programs that have stayed on campus have become less evangelistic and more transparent than in the past. We would encourage congregations located near college campuses to look at what they can do to bring the principles of Jesus Christ to the campus. There are people who can help, and if you need leads for more information, please contact us.”
We recently reported on an amazing fossil find in Qingjiang, China. That discovery allows us to learn more about the Cambrian Explosion of life on Earth. Now we have another major fossil find. This one is near Bowman, North Dakota. This fossil trove validates the asteroid collision in the Gulf of Mexico and explains the extinction of the dinosaurs.
One of the assumptions of Darwinian Naturalists is uniformitarianism. They claim that everything we see can be explained by science and that no process has happened in the past that is not going on today. A process so violent that it would destroy virtually all life on Earth does not allow constant small changes over millennia to produce the biota on today’s Earth.
In 1980 Luis and Walter Alvarez produced evidence that an asteroid had hit the Earth near a Mexican town named Chicxulub. According to the Alvarez hypothesis, that impact contributed to the demise of many forms of life, including dinosaurs. Many years later Antonio Camargo and Glen Penfield provided evidence that there was a large crater in the Yucatan Peninsula. Recently Robert DePalma found a fossil bed that ends any speculation about this event. NationalGeographic.com gave the following description:
“..a 7.5-mile wide asteroid smashed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico. It ripped a hole in the Earth’s crust some 50 miles wide and 18 miles deep. Mega-earthquakes and colossal tsunamis rippled out from the impact site, and billions of tons of molten rock was hurled into the sky and across thousands of miles. That debris fell back to Earth as tiny globs of glass known as tektites in a pulverizing rain that lasted for 45 minutes.”
The major fossil find discovered by DePalma near Bowman, North Dakota, is full of fossils of sea creatures mixed up with trees and land-dwelling animals. The gills of the fish are clogged with tektites. There seems to be very little doubt that this deposit is confirmation of the asteroid collision.