Friday, August 5, 2011

Welcome.If you have stumbled on this blog, it seeks to simply present answers to questions many ask concerning faith and God. It works best if you go back to the start and work through the questions in sequence. I have ordered the posts in the order that works:

1. Beginnings: A Short Introductory Note:

2. Is there a God?

3. How Do We Know Who God is?

4. Is the Bible Reliable?

5. Why Did God Create Our World?

6. Why Does Evil Exist?

7. What About Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus?

8. My Testimony Of Coming to Know Jesus, My Story Part One:

9. My Story Part Two:

10. My Story Part Three:

11. Why Did Jesus Die In Such A Way - On A Cross?

12. Aren't Christians Hypocrites?

13. Aren't Christians Responsible for so Much War And Suffering?

14. Why Is There So Much Suffering When God is Supposedly So Good?

15. Why Would A Loving God Send People to Hell?

16. Who Made God?

17. Isn't Christianity Sexist?

18. What About Evolution?

19. What's God Up To On Planet Earth, some comments on my book:

Feel free to email me with more questions and thoughts to


Dr Mark K

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's God Up To On Planet Earth?

Tomorrow night is the launch of my new book, What's God Up To On Planet Earth. A No-Strings Attached Explanation of the Christian Message. It is publised by Affirm/Castle. It is the culmination of years of work which began when I became a dedicated follower of Jesus at 24.

My first engagement with Christ was at 13 when I heard the Christian message and was convinced of its truth claims. I didn't carry through on this in a family that was pretty opposed to the faith. I remember crying out to God that it was too hard and that when I left home I would follow Jesus. When I left home in my early 20's I found myself working through many struggles and eventually realised God was calling me to honour what I had said. Eventually I relented and turned to Jesus and became a disciple. It was fantastic, I was liberated and my life took on meaning. My excitement at being a Christian and the wonder of Jesus grows everyday!

From early on I started sharing the gospel with anyone and everyone I could find. I wanted everyone to know about Jesus. I told the story of my conversion and set about learning the story of Jesus. I memorised verses, I read, I studied, I thought. I learnt a lot from debating. Over time I began to develop a method of arranging the gospel. I have preached this pattern a number of times and have found it very effective. It is not a new one, built on models I had been taught.

The book is the culmination of this. It arranges the Christians story around the 5 R's of the Gospel: Relationship, Rupture, Restoration, Return and Response. Each articulates an essential element of the Christian message. Each chapter answers a question within the framework of the big one, what is God up to. The first is 'why am I here?' Answer: relationship. The idea here is that God wants to hang out with us forever and that this is what moves him to create i.e. his relentless and overwhelming love. The second is 'what is the problem with the world?' The answer, evil and from a human perspective, sin i.e. the world is infected with a virus that must be resolved. As we do wrong we violate God and our humanity. We and our world needs healing. The third is 'what is the solution?' The answer, restoration. This is found in Jesus, through whom God has moved to resolve the problem of evil which corrupts his creation. The fourth is, 'how will it end?' It picks up the important notion of the return of Christ, the climax of history and the beginning of a new story. We cannot tell the story of Jesus and faith without getting and exciting vision of the culmination of the world when love and justice will prevail. The final question is 'what do I have to do?' The answer is 'believe in Jesus as saviour and Lord.' I unpack what that means; essentially, it means bowing the knee to King Jesus, sayng yes to his extraordinary offer of eternal life with God. There is a follow up chapter on 'where to from here' which tells the reader what they can do next.

It is designed to be a no-strings attached explanation of the Christian message. It is designed for those who have heard the story in some way or another, and don't quite get it, or need to understand it better. The idea is that they can read it, without someone pressuring them, and make a call on whether they want this Jesus. My hope is that Christians will read it and pray about who it is appropriate for, and give it to them. It is useful as an aid to Alpha and other evangelistic programs.

Several features of the book I think make it interesting. First, it is written with my story splashed through it at points to bring it alive. Secondly, it is written in a non-dogmatic way explaining to the reader various ways Christian resolve issues. For example, it briefly touches on different views of creation, and of hell. It prepares these new Christians for the variety of ideas they will encounter. I hope it appeals to the post-modern in this sense. Thirdly, it is written hopefully with a sense of humility and without the sort of pressure that can turn a non-believer off. The gospel itself is offensive without me adding to its offense! Fourthly, there are no bible verse references in the text or footnotes. Rather, there are endnotes with the appropriate texts for the reader to check out themselves when they have read the book. Finally, it presents a compelling vision of what God is up to. It hopefully will excite readers with their role in what I call Cosmission, God's mission to restore every inch of his glorious world and to see everyone live forever with him.

It is not an apologetic book full of answers to the tough questions like, 'is there a God?' 'Why do good people suffer?' Etc. That is one of my next books, or send them to one of the many other books that deal with these things.

So, I hope it is well received and I hope many come to faith through it. Indeed, that is what excites me most about it, that someone somewhere might become a Christian through it. I also dream of putting together a children's version, youth version, a video series and more around it. If there is anyone who wants to help sponsor those ideas, let me know!

There are a number of places you can buy them. You can email me at to arrange payments. It is also available through Castle Publishing


Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Do I Become A Christian?

So, how does one become a Christian? The New Testament documents have a variety of ways of describing this. In some the Gospels Jesus calls people to follow him (e.g. Matt 4:19; 8:22, 9:9). Those that did gained entry into the Kingdom of God and salvation. To follow means to acknowledge Jesus as King or Lord and then to live by his teaching.

After Jesus died and rose through the books of Acts and the letters it is 'faith' that saves us. A great example of this is when the Philippian jailor asks Paul, 'what must I do to be saved?' Paul responds, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.' Faith or to believe is to accept Jesus, to believe in Jesus and all he is, has done and does. It is belief in him as saviour, that his death and resurrection saves us. It is acceptance of him as Lord, and so we seek to obey him and live his way for our lives.

What doesn't save us in the New Testament is our works. Eph 2:8-9 tells us, 'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.' This tells us that we are saved by God's gift (grace) and that all we do is believe. We can do nothing to save ourselves because we are corrupted by sin, even in our best moments. So God offers to save us, if we say 'yes' to his offer. We simply accept what Jesus has done. Faith is accepting Jesus that first time as saviour and Lord and then living every day out of trust in him. It involves that commitment to follow, and trust in him. It is really simply saying 'yes' to God's wonderful free offer of eternal relationship with him.

We don't become a Christian by obeying a religion, going to church, praying a certain way, following a particular church leader, doing good things. These all have value to grow in our faith. However, they do not save us. Jesus is the only one who can save us. He died on a cross in our place taking our sin on himself so that we would not have to face eternal destruction which all evil and sin will receive. He conquered evil and sin by rising from death. He offers to take us through to salvation with him if we accept him and what he has done.

So if you believe that Jesus is the way to salvation, all you have to do is tell God with a prayer and set out to live for Jesus. Pray something like this: 'God I acknowledge that Jesus came to save me. Thank you Jesus for dying for me in my place. I admit I am a sinful person and ask you to forgive me and to save me. Come into my life and help me to live for you. Thank you for dying for me. I commit to do my best to live for you from now on. In Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What about evolution?

One of the great stumbling blocks for many who do not believe is the concept of evolution. That is, the idea that humans and all other life has evolved from an initial simple single cell life form which spontaneously came into being on earth millions of years ago. I will call this macro-evolution, it being agreed by most that minor adaptations due to environment are found in the world today (micro-evolution). There are a number of things to state which indicate that macro-evolution is of far less importance than some on both sides of the debate argue.

1. Macro-evolution is a faith not a fact. It is argued that macro-evolution is proven in many quarters. This is not the case. The lines of evolutionary descent drawn by proponents are unproven. While it looks coherent, at no point has evidence been given that proves the change. Hence when one considers the multiplicity of ‘supposed’ unproven changes required in macro-evolutionary theory it is a faith not a proven fact.

2. Macro-evolution is less believable than most religions. Most religions require one or so aspects to be true. So for Christianity to be true all that is required is for the Gospel account to be true and that Jesus rose from the dead. Macro-evolution requires an almost endless progression of minor unproven changes over many millennia. It is easier to believe in Christianity for many than macro-evolution in that it requires a smaller range of belief.

3. Macro-evolution still requires God. Were we to still maintain that macro-evolution has occurred still begs the ultimate questions. How did life form initially? Where did the earth come from? What caused the bang if indeed the big bang started off the universe? What caused life to evolve in its many forms and for the environment to be so perfect. Has there really been enough time for this complexity to form in such wonder? In addition, the order of the creation account coheres pretty well with the order in which macro-evolution adheres to. For me, it is possible then that God used an evolutionary process to create.

4. The process of creation is unclear. Christians are not all uniform in their understanding of creation. The creation accounts refer to pre-history and predate contemporary understandings of the world. It is feasible that they are more symbolic than some think and may not be literal. There are some aspects of the language that suggest this (e.g. the Hebrew for day can be a long period, the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day raising the question of the literal length of the days, and the language is full of symbolism). That being the case, we cannot be utterly certain of the process. This raises the possibility of macro-evolution. That being the case, the arguments concerning macro-evolution or no macro-evolution become a red herring. That is, either way we need God to make it work! So I suggest we should examine the life of Jesus to decide on Christianity or not.

5. A reasonable case can be made for a literal creation as per Gen 1-2. Creation scientists have and continue to demonstrate that there are real problems with macro-evolution theory. In addition they also argue and demonstrate the possibility that the accounts are to be taken seriously and that life as we know it was created in 6 days (or over 6 time periods).

6. Nothing in contemporary science requires macro-evolution. Many scientists will claim that evolution alone explains existence and such things as genetics. However, that is not the case. The existence of a creator who ordered his creation according to his preset scientific principles explains every finding of contemporary science. The understanding of bio-sciences are in fact the discovery of the hand of the creator.

7. The closeness of some animal species to humanity does not require macro-evolution. The similarities between primates and humans does not necessarily suggest a relationship. They can equally reveal the creativity of God seen across the whole range of flora and fauna. Arguing for a relationship actually blurs the immense differences in intelligence and spirituality between the limited primates and humanity. We are clearly different, intellectually superior and capable of spirituality. We are made in God’s image and they are not.

8. The problem of the limits of macro-evolution. I often ponder why evolution has reached where it has uniformly. Why have some humans not developed wings; they would be extremely helpful? Similarly why did we dispense with gills? Why do some of us not still have gills? When one goes down this track there are a huge range of questions that are raised! Macro-evolution would lead to a far greater evolutionary diversity among humanity that we currently have. Creation and the non-existence of macro-evolution makes much more sense.

9. Macro-Evolution depends on chance. It remains inconceivable to me that all that we see is a result of nothing becoming something, the nothing exploding into the universe as we see it, by some freakish chance water emerged and in one primordial pool an amoeba spontaneously burst forth into life and then evolved spontaneously into a billion life forms! Such a view is an absurdity without the hand of a creator. This leaves two realistic options, theistic evolution (God creating by evolutionary processes) or macro-evolution as a myth!

10. Macro-evolution is western European’s creation myth. All societies have a creation story and the macro-evolution story is in fact just a myth created by western European atheistic scientists. It has no more warrant than any other creation story.

11. Macro-evolution fails to answer the ultimate questions. Macro-evolutionary theory does not answer the ultimate questions of why? How did it begin?

12. The mode of creation should be worked outward from Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead demonstrating his claim to be the Son of God. As such all postulations on original creation must work backwards from this event. He supported the biblical accounts literally. As such I hold by faith to the view that the world was created either as per Genesis either in a literal 6-day 24 hour period or in a 6 unspecified length periods. Both these views are consistent with the possibilities of Gen 1-2. Beyond that, who knows????

Friday, March 9, 2007

Isn't Christianity Sexist?

One of the problems some people have with Christianity is its apparent prejudice against women in its writings and history. Now where the latter is concerned, there is no doubt that Christianity as in many cases in its history, been oppressive to women. This sorrows me and on behalf of all Christians, I acknowledge this and seek forgiveness. As in the case of Christian involvement in violence and war, this is tragic and a distortion of the original intention of God concerning gender. Rather, I believe that the bible if understood correctly, promotes equality and complementarity while retaining gender distinctiveness.

This is seen in the clear patriarchal bias of the OT (see Gen 2:20; 3:16) and in certain key texts which appear to promote the leadership of the male in the marriage and home and in the church (see esp. 1 Cor 11:1-16; 14:34-35; 1 Tim 2:11-15; Eph 5:22-24; Col 3:18; 1 Pet 3:1-6). However to me, while it appears that Christianity is biased in this way in its writings, closer examination suggests no such bias. Here are some ideas in this direction:
1. The concept of woman as man’s helper in Gen 2:20 should not be understood as authoritative as God is also Israel’s helper in the OT implying that subordination is not necessarily in mind here (e.g. Exod 18:4; Ps 121:2). If subordination is read into the word, then God is subordinate to Israel which is out of the question.
2. The contention and dominance of men over women apparently referred to in Gen 3:16 is not God's ideal but the consequence of sin and caused by the Fall i.e. it is not God's intention. Both men and women are made in the image of God and on an equal footing before God (Gen 1:26-27). In the church this distortion caused by the fall of humanity is to be corrected.
3. The patriarchy of the OT law and life represents the patriarchy of the then world. It does not follow that such patriarchy should be universal for all of human history.
4. Jesus was highly positive toward women (Lk 8:1-2; 10:38-41; Jn 4:1-42; 8:1-12 etc.). He allowed them to be disciples as seen in the account of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-41). They formed part of his travelling team (Lk 8:1-2).
5. The first witnesses to the resurrection were women (Mt 28:1-5) which is actually remarkable in that their testimony was considered worthless in the age.
6. There is no gender limitation in the spiritual gift lists i.e. all can be gifted in such a way (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:1-31; Eph 4:11-12). Of particular note here is the gift of leadership in Rom 12:8 where Paul places no limitation of gender on this appeal to let those with the gift of leadership lead.
7. There is evidence of women involved in ministry in the early church (Acts 16:13-15; 18:26; Rom 16:1, 3-4, 6-7, 12; 1 Cor 1:11; 11:5; Phil 4:1-3; Col 4:15). These include Junia an apostle (the best reading of Rom 16:7), church hosts (e.g. Nympha in Col 4:15), teachers including Priscilla who taught alongside Aquila and is named ahead of him in many references indicating her priority (Acts 18:26), Euodia and Syntyche who were evangelistic co-workers of Paul in Philippi (Phil 4:1-3). These women worked in the service of God.
8. There is evidence that where the culture allowed women greater involvement, Paul adapted his approach to allow more involvement in the church (see the higher role of women in Macedonia cf. Acts 16:11-15; Phil 4:2-3). That is, Paul was flexible where culture is concerned in terms of the involvement and role of women (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-22).
9. Husbands are to love their wives with a sacrificial love involving giving up their lives in the manner of Christ (Eph 5:24). This suggests giving up power leading to mutual submission. The main imperative of the passage is ‘submit to one another’ (Eph 5:22). In addition the whole concept of headship does not necessarily imply authority but may indicate source in the sense of creation i.e. from man came woman, not implying authority.
10. There are clear indications of equality of all in the church in terms of race, gender and socio-economic class (Gal 3:28). This verse which tells us that in Christ there neither Jew nor Greek, male nore female, slave nor free; subverts the three great social divides in the ancient world. Paul is not wanting to remove cultural nor gender distinctives, he is speaking of a new order in which these old divides of oppression and dominance are now overthrown in the idea of community brought by God.
11. The injunctions in 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 and 1 Timothy 2:9-11 probably should not be read a universal statements confinding the role of women but be read as injunctions to women in these particular situations who were causing contention. In the 1 Cor 14 context Paul has already allowed women to pray and prophesy in 1 Cor 11:5-7 and so here is probably seeking to quieten down those involved in the chaotic tongues and prophetic babbling of the Corinthian church. Similarly in 1 Tim 2, the women appear to be involved in the problem of false teaching which besets the Ephesian church and the injunction is targeting those who are involved. Hence, Gal 3:28 above sets the agenda for equality, but these injunctions are situational responses to problems.
12. Whether or not Paul held a patriarchal view, it is not stated whether these are to be applied in all cultures and in all times (see note 8 above). In fact indications in Paul are there that he advocated freedom where non-salvation matters are concerned. In 1 Cor 9:19-22 Paul speaks of adapting his lifestyle when among people of different ethnicities and persuasions in order to not put any obstacle in their way toward knowing Christ. Where gender then is concerned, I believe Paul today in our world, would advocate for mutual servanthood and submission and equality of opportunity in that this culture is framed in such a way.

I believe then that there is no real qualification on the involvement of women in church leadership. Indeed, where a culture is positive to the role of women as I suggest above, Paul and others would have argued for their involvement (cf. western European culture). On the other hand in cultures where women were subordinate he may have advocated a lesser role. That being said, Paul was not happy with the status quo as seen in Gal 3:28. In terms of practicalities, I believe in this complex age the church needs male and female leaders in equal measure to ensure effective pastoral care. In terms of life in the home I believe that a close reading of Eph 5:22f in particular suggests mutual submission rather than the headship of the husband in an authoritative sense. My own observation of good marriages suggests that in good marriages the husband and wife work as a team without any sense of domination, whatever view of marriage is taken. I conclude that on the basis of sexism, no one should write off the Christian faith. However, I admit we as a Christian people have a long way to go to truly reflect the freedom that is in Christ and for this we must continue to labour.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Who made God?

This is one of the great questions kids like to ask. It is also a favourite of Richard Dawkins, this question being the main argument he raises against God in the God-delusion.

Usually it is a response to Christian arguments for the existence of God i.e. everything that exists has a cause except the uncaused first cause; for you cannot have an endless regression of causes.

If so, then God must have a cause. What can be said in response?

1. Because anything exists, something must be uncaused. I would argue that the existence of anything at all presupposes the existence of an uncaused cause. Otherwise we are left with an endless regression of causes. Certainly both options are philosophically ridiculous and outside our experience. However, when combined with all the other evidences I have outlined above for the existence of God, the idea of a first uncaused cause is the better of the two options.

2. We cannot know the cause of God. Having suggested that an uncaused cause is a better explanation for our existence than an endless regression of cause, the truth is that we simply do not know the origins of God. I believe that the best explanation for the universe is some sovereign omnipotent being. However, if God had an origin then the creator of ‘god’ becomes God and we fall into the endless regression of causes again. That being the case God ceases to be God and God is in fact the creator of the god we know! So we are left with God as God. The combination of evidences for the existence of an all powerful, all knowledgeable and everywhere present God is the best explanation for existence, history and experience.

3. Jesus shows us who God is. The best way to know God is not through the creation however, it is found by working outward from the miracle of Jesus. Jesus was beyond any human who has lived or ever will live. He rose from the dead, did innumerable miracles and taught an ethic and belief that transcends all other philosophies and creeds. He was a Jew and as such promoted the God of Judaism as the true God. The search for God is not then found in philosophical thought and answering such questions but in searching the Scriptures, understanding his/her character and will and then living it. It is better to leave such philosophical wonderings to mystery and walk in faith with God.

I conclude that the best option of available options is that God is the uncreated creator of all that exists. I accept that this is beyond our reason but conclude it is the only way of making sense of creation and history.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Why would a loving God send people to hell?

One of the aspects of Christianity that puzzles some people is the thought that God sends some people to hell. While this seems distasteful and incongruous with a God of love, in fact it makes good sense when one considers the whole picture.

Before looking at some of the data it is important to state one thing from the start. That is this: the nature of hell is not clearly defined in Scripture. The most common image used for hell is of a lake of fire (Matt 25:45; Rev 21). Some believe that this should be taken literally and see hell as eternal ongoing punishment in a lake of fire. However, some reading the same data argue that hell is not in fact actually eternal suffering, but is being destroyed in a lake of fire for all time i.e. annihilation. That is, those who live forever with God are made immortal, those who reject God are destroyed (conditional immortality). Still others believe that the passages in question which refer to fire are to be taken symbolically. They would hold that all people are given immortality at their conception. Then, if they do not enter saving relationship with God, they will enter hell not necessarily a literal lake of fire but a place of eternal separation from God and all that is good. That being the case, hell is eternal existence in a place devoid of relationship, creation and light; some would say eternal solitary confinement in darkness and nothingness! Whichever is true, hell is a horrific concept. At its heart is separation from God and who wants that?

Now to some of the broader issues that call into question hell as unjust and unloving:

1. Hell is God’s yes to humanities no: Hell is only for those who have rejected God and his offer of salvation. That is, people who have said no to God’s offer of eternal relationship with him in his unblemished world to come. That being the case, hell is God's yes to humanities no to his offer of salvation. Some will respond 'what about those who haven't heard the message'. I have dealt with this objection earlier arguing that all will be judged on whether they responded to God in faith as he is revealed to them through creation and as revealed (cf. Rom 1:20; Abraham in Rom 4; Melchizedek in Heb 7; Heb 11).

2. Hell is essential for the destruction of evil: Justice and logic tells us that if a God exists who is pure, just, loving and good that for his justice to be demonstrated and his love to be complete, that at some point he must extinguish evil from the universe. Whether this is achieved by annihilating it or by confining it to a place for all eternity; the world to come will be free of evil and this is goo. Such confining or annihilation is a loving act to remove evil from the universe; setting free those who long for and pursue goodness and love.

3. Hell is God’s grace and love to lovers of good: Hell is God’s way of removing the tension and pain of living in a fallen world. For those who long to be with God, to enjoy freedom without evil and suffering, to experience life without pain and death, hell is the negative side of God’s yes to them. Heaven is the positive side, a world without suffering, pain, torment, grief and death! Hell then is the setting free of the universe from all that is not good including death, pain and more. I say it is then an act of love. In fact God's holding back from moving in this way is also an act of grace to give all created humanity a fair chance at responding. This cannot go on indefinitely; he will move before evil will triumph and this is right and good.

4. When one considers the extent and nature of evil, hell is totally justified: If Satan exists as the bible describes, he deserves eternal suffering! Jesus said unambiguously that hell is designed for him (see Mt 25:41). After all Satan has sought to destroy all that is good and which God has established and deserves such eternal torment. Similarly Hitler in WW2, Stahlin in communist Russia, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and other meglomaniacal despots of history deserve nothing short of hell for the horrendous way they treated people. The tragedy is that all evil will be deal with in the same way and so many who are far less given over to evil will also suffer; however, God is consistent, he will destroy evil. Especially so when the whole Bible testifies that for God all sin is disgusting and an afront. As such, it must be dealt with because of God's nature, love, justice and purity.

5. Hell is easily avoidable: Those who baulk at hell need not do so for hell is not inevitable but can easily be avoided by accepting Jesus as Lord and saviour. All we need to do is accept God's offer of release from evil, from sin, from eternal destruction in whatever form. God offers us eternal friendship, joy, unblemished and unparalleled bliss by simply accepting his offer of salvation in Christ. That being the case, hell becomes a non-issue if we accept his offer.

I conclude that hell is a reasonable, just and loving concept. It is loving in that it is God’s yes to
humanities no and it sees the removal of evil from the cosmos, something that all reasonable people long for. It is just in that eternal destruction in whatever form is reasonable for Satan and utterly wicked humans. However, the nature of hell is not completely clear. While I consider that eternal separation from God would seem the most likely interpretation, other views of literal eternal burning and annihilation options are possible on the evidence given. The best response is to say yes to God and avoid hell, whatever form it takes.