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Saturday, 26 August 2017

Mentoring? Yes, That is Good.

Without a shadow of of a doubt, the Internet has opened up a new world previously hidden from our private lives. And especially You-Tube. And after spending several years browsing through many of the website's numerous videos, by chance I came across one particular channel, and soon after, I became a subscriber of one young atheistic student with remarkable knowledge and insight for one still a teenager, despite that he still has yet to attend university. He has my head spinning despite him being young enough to be my grandson. Okay, his name is Alexander J. O'Connor, bearing the stage name of Cosmic Skeptic. 

Alexander J. O'Connor

Together with his high level of knowledge, whilst on air I found him to be reasonably humble. He does not slag off the ordinary Christian believer. Rather, he respects his beliefs. Rather he aims his guns at the "Big Shots" - the better-known evangelists and televangelists for debunking Science and advocating Supernatural Creationism, especially to a wide audience with their intention to "enslave the minds of young children to religious ignorance and from the wonders of Scientific facts." The "Scientific facts" referred to here are to do with Historical Geology and Darwinian Evolution, a rather small section of General Science, which also includes man-invented contrasts such as between civic engineering and watchmaking, along with chemistry, medicine, thermodynamics, computers, navigation, meteorology, astrology, magnetism, the elements (atoms, molecules, etc.), acoustics, optics, oceanography, volcanic and seismic sciences, plate tectonics, along with many other branches, all growing out of the three most important boughs of the Scientific tree-trunk - Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth Science. Even Physical Science itself has three branches - Physics, Chemistry, and Astronomy. Therefore in such a vast array, Darwinism occupies only a small branch, yet this small branch of science is taken to mean the whole of Science versus Divine Creation.

As a UK resident (Oxford, I believe) he had recently flown to California upon an invitation to make a thirty-minute presentation to an audience at a conference centre, followed by a further thirty minutes of questions from his listeners. And so there he was, a British teenager dressed in an open neck shirt without a tie, most likely the youngest presenter the centre has ever hosted. Yet possessing the knack and ability to challenge the older, more experienced, smart-suited televangelist whose motives sometimes comes over as more financial rather than spiritual or Gospel-centred. His presentation was about why he favoured science and atheism above creationism-based religion. And that includes all religions, not just fundamental Christianity.

There at first seems to be a vast chasm between this lad and myself when I was his age. Where he had accumulated such knowledge for his age I cannot be sure, but one thing I am aware of. That is if I was born around the year 2000, give or take, and happen to live next door, he would be a towering giant in the intellectual sense by comparison to myself, a dwarf. Yet we both have very similar backgrounds. We both grew up as Roman Catholics and by the time we have reached teenage years, we both had become disillusioned with religion. Perhaps his definition of an atheist is more true to himself than it was for me. Because during my teenage years I actually hated God and everything to do with religion, namely the churches. And whether the same applies to O'Connor, that's not for me to say. But there is one area he himself had brought to attention: And that during his presentation, he admitted that he has a fear of Hell, after watching videos of lost souls of people being tormented by the Devil and his minions after their deaths, leaving him with the awareness of the possibility of its existence.

That is not a good position to be in. Such videos can strike fear into those who watch them, and does not generate admiration or worship to God at all. I strongly advice not to watch these videos at all because these videos does not edify, nor does it draw the one who is watching closer to God. In fact, I actually believe that he who watches such videos will doubt the love of God rather than emphasise it. I know. When prompts for such videos had appeared on You-Tube, out of curiosity I clicked to view - with regret. I was left trembling with fear myself, even if I was a true believer in Christ myself for many years. The cause of such fear? Several factors:

a) The awful truth that had it not been for the atonement itself made by Jesus Christ on the cross, then I'll end up in Hell myself, making every achievement accomplished completely pointless. This leads to,
b) Dread of my beloved wife suffering unending torment in Hell herself. I just could not bear such a thought.
c) The cruel reality of the creation of all mankind by God if his destiny is eternal torment after death.
d) Whenever I'm out and about, watching people going about their daily business, including families with babies and young children, then pondering on their eternal destiny.
e) Considering whether I was "lucky" to have been born in a "Christian Country". What chances of Heaven is there if I had been born in a non-Christian country, such as in Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, or other pagan lands? And what about those who are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or involved in some other para-faith heresy? And all showing devotion to their particular religion?

And so Alexander J. O'Connor and I have basically the same religious upbringing - adhesion to the Roman Catholic faith. And both of us put off by it. Of course, I cannot see into O'Connor's mind. But I can see into my own. And this is what I have seen:

That the Roman Catholic Church has based its soteriology on a bad translation of their Latin Vulgate Bible. Where I'm referring to is the Greek word for Repent, found in the New Testament. The actual Greek word is Metaneo - a change of mind. The Latin words for change of mind is Mutatio Animi. But the Latin Vulgate Bible, upon which the whole of Roman Catholic theology is built, instead has the Latin word Paenitentia, now translated Repent in the English New Testament. But this Latin word does not mean merely a change of mind. Rather it indicates a seeking for forgiveness of sin by means of specific works, including set prayers. The Church of Rome has a sacrament essential for this way of salvation - Penance.

So if the life of a devoted Catholic is to mind carefully not to sin, go to Mass every Sunday and holy days, confess to a priest at least once a year, and do the penance set by the priest - any trip up, a fall into sin - especially of a severe kind - then it is Hell. One can be a devoted Catholic for an entire life, but still end up in Hell after committing a last minute sin immediately before death. Then we wonder why we either devote ourselves to the Virgin Mary as intercessor between us and God, or to actually hate God or to deny his existence.

And at the age of twenty years of age was when I was told about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It was then when I believed that I was "born from above" acquitted from all sin, a new creation, and became an adopted son of God. The entire transition from death to life was wholly forensic. That is, the act was carried out in the heavenly Court, without any works done on my part.

A forensic judgement of sin might have been made from above. That is a fact, but this does not necessarily mean the reality of it in day-to-day living. Rather, a confusion soon arose in my mind on why there seem to be a conflict between my new faith and that of my former faith. Then to add to the confusion, a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door and started to debunk the genuineness of both Roman Catholicism and my new faith in Jesus Christ alone, with their insistence that unless I become one of them, I would not receive eternal life at all. What a confusion! However their denial of the reality of the Holy Trinity had quickly made me decide that I will never become one of them, but that did not stop the ongoing debate. Thus, so soon after conversion, I came to realise that there are different facets of Christianity, and all disagreeing with each other as well as each group insisting that they are the ones who are doing the will of God and they alone will inherit eternal life.

To believe in the free gift of eternal life given to the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was incredibly difficult for one who grew up believing that salvation is to be earned. Believe me, it took years for me to undo everything I have learnt. And added to this was the idea that eternal life was something earned by holding specific doctrines and belonging to a specific group. There we go again. Eternal life earned, not giving freely as a gift. Hence the intensifying of the confusion, and drifting along a shoreless ocean like a rudderless ship. What I needed was a mentor. And a mentor I accepted. But not in person, for he lived across the Atlantic, but instead, through his writings.

Thus shortly after conversion, I became aware of a large Christian bookshop just opposite St. Paul's Cathedral in Central London. I began to go there every Saturday afternoon to look for anything that would build up my faith and to learn more about different faiths and why they believe their creeds. It was not long before I came across a rather thick book which bore the title: False Doctrines Answered from the Scriptures, by Dr. John R. Rice, D.D., Litt. D. (who died by the end of the 1970's). The very first multi-chapter section dealt with The Errors of Romanism, together with Jehovah's Witnesses and many other groups which had skewed from Biblical orthodoxy. Gradually the picture became clear. However, Dr Rice was an advocate of Eternal Security of the Believer, or as we now refer to as Once Saved Always Saved. Dr. Rice advocated this truth with a passion, something that would have beneficial effects for the rest of my life.

More than a decade later, I became acquainted with someone who had some books he no longer wanted. So he asked if I can have them, and he gave them to me freely. These books were each written by the late Dave Hunt, founder and former head of The Berean Society, whose aim was always to check teachings and sermons with Holy Scripture. I have four of his books, three of them had made an impact on my Christian life. They were:

1. How Close Are We? - Examines how the life of Jesus Christ here on Earth fulfilling Old Testament prophecy right up to the Crucifixion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. Therefore the author was able to focus of the imminent return of Jesus Christ without setting any dates.

2. The Cup of Trembling - Concerning the present city of Jerusalem and the ongoing fight for governance between the Jews, the Palestinians, and even by the Vatican. Details the Abrahamic Covenant and how this effects both the Jews and the Arabs and their ancestors.

3. A Woman Rides the Beast -  A detailed history, doctrines and customs of the Roman Catholic Church going back to Constantine and beyond.

These three books all had an impact on my Christian life, something which might have been the motive behind the vision I received in October 1992 to visit Jerusalem and to pray over the city, which I did in 1993. His fourth book, Global Peace, I did not find so inspiring, but that did not hold me back from accepting Dave Hunt as my second mentor. Hunt, like Rice, was also an advocate of Eternal Security of the Believer.

But I did not want to be too reliant on my mentors to believe in Once Saved Always Saved, especially after facing challenges against it from fellow church members and itinerant preachers alike. And getting stuck into the Bible was what I needed. To let the Bible speak for itself. So by persisting reading of Holy Scripture, I have discovered for myself that of the three characteristics of God - Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent - all three revealed in Psalm 139 for example - Omniscience had struck me as the most supportive characteristic for Once Saved, even if the other two played a role as well. Other Old Testament chapters such as Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and Zechariah 11:12-13, along with a great many prophecies foretelling the life of Jesus Christ are such revelations of Omniscience! And concerning us believers, God first foreknew, then he predestined, then he called us, and we are yet to receive glory (Romans 8:29-39, Ephesians, chapters 1-2.) Jesus himself promised eternal security, especially in the Gospel of John chapters 6, 10, and 17. It is even "hidden" in some of the parables spoken by Jesus, for example, the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-32) - which indicates that although tares remain as tares, it is also true that wheat remain as wheat, which being a species in itself, does not turn into tares. Then following is the parable of the Yeast (v.33) where a woman mixes yeast into the unbaked dough which not only leavens the dough, but the yeast (which I believe represents the Holy Spirit) cannot be separated again. Hints of Eternal security.

However, reading prophecy - and there are tons of it in the Old Testament - not only from Isaiah to Malachi, but in the Psalms, and in other parts of the Old Testament too, not only foretells the coming of the Messiah but the restoration of Israel as a sovereign State after 2,500 years of none existence (the last of its sovereignty was wiped out with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC) yet around 700 BC, Isaiah asked, "Who has seen such things? Who has heard of such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be born at once?" (Isaiah 66:8).

Yes it can and it did. It took place on May 14th, 1948. That was the day the British Mandate lowered its flag, and the Israel flag was hoisted up in its place. It was the one day Israel once more became a sovereign nation, just as Isaiah prophesied! And I had the privilege to walk the streets of Jerusalem after Israel became a sovereign nation, and I was able to see for myself the revival of its Jewish customs. And like a young sapling of a tree, at first I needed a mentor just as the sapling needed a stick to help support it. But as the sapling puts down its roots deep into the ground, so likewise, as I rooted myself firmly into the Bible, I was no longer in need a mentor, neither does the tree. Instead, I'm ready to mentor somebody else, just as the tree is ready to bear its fruit.

Flag of Israel

The Bible may be a book of fables in the eyes of Alexander O'Connor, but with a large section of prophecy, many already fulfilled to startling accuracy, no other religious book can hold a candle to the verity of Holy Scripture.


  1. Dear Frank,
    Thank you for your well thought-out and written defense of Scripture, its supernatural inspiration, its truth and its uncanny accuracy, even in terms of scientific fact which was not known until millennia after it was written. And, as you and statisticians point out, the odds are astronomically low that its prophecies which have already been fulfilled could have happened by chance. Praise God that He is Truth and that His Word is true. looking forward (and up) to the next event on the calendar of prophecy, which will be the Rapture of the church.
    Thanks for the excellent post and God bless,

  2. Great post, Frank. Will pray for the young man, that God will draw him to himself.