Thursday, December 28, 2006

Acupuncture and Christians

I had a conversation today with some people about Acupuncture, and so I thought it would be good to write in this blog about the implications of Acupuncture for Christians.
To know about Acupuncture you have to know about Qi, Yin and Yang, health and finally Acupuncture itself:

Behind Acupuncture is the idea that the human body has a life force in it called Qi (Chee). This lifeforce is described as:
'The Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. A person's health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang . ('

Qi travels through special pathways around the body called Meridians.

Yin and Yang:

Wikipedia defines these as:
'two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe.'

For good health, a good flow of Qi is needed. If this is not the case then there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang, and illness will occur.

By putting needles into the skin where the mederian points are,
the Qi is able to circulate evenly and the balance of Yin and Yang is restored.

Is it scientific?
There is a popular belief that Acupuncture is in fact scientific and not spiritual. This has not been scientifically proven however and reminds me of the misinformation that used to be put out that it had been proved scientifically that homosexuals were born gay. This was in fact never proved scientifically (nor has it ever been proved for heterosexuals either). What has been happening recently however is that doctors have been recommending Acupuncture to clients, not because it is scientific, but because a number of people claim to have experienced pain relief from Acupuncture. Given its apparent lack of side effects, it would seem to some doctors to be a safer choice than drugs.
It should be noted that there is a lack of scientific evidence that Acupuncture can actually heal people, and it is mainly claimed to bring pain relief rather than healing. This pain relief may possibly be from the 'placebo effect', or could even be from the spiritual forces that the method seeks to employ. Scientists have come up with many conflicting theories on why Acupuncture sometimes works and given the age of Acupuncture a consensus may never be drawn (unless we all agree on the original idea behind it).

Was Acupuncture invented by God?
Some believe that God may have created the human body with these meridians in them, so that humans would be able to heal themselves using the technique of Acupuncture. If this was the case then why is this not mentioned in the Bible? Why do we instead find it in Taoism? Why was it not mentioned in the Torah where God had been so specific about how to treat mildew in the camp? According to it's adherents, Acupuncture has been around for 5,000 years. That would make it accessible to the people in Moses' time. Perhaps some of the Canaanites practised it? Perhaps they didn't! But what we do know is that God warned the Israelites
to not copy the practises of the heathen: 'You must not worship the LORD your God the way they worship.' Deuteronomy 12:4 NET Bible.

As Christians we base our beliefs on the Bible. This means that if scientists teach a theory of evolution that denies a creator God then we ignore this theory in favour of the Bible's account of creation. Interestingly a great number of scientists are leaving the 'Big Bang' theory arguing that there is no good scientific proof for it. We find a similar situation in the case of Acupuncture:
Scientists have been unable to prove it is a scientific method of healing or pain relief, in fact they have come up with many conflicting theories of why Acupuncture sometimes works. Even without this fact however, we Christians must base our beliefs and actions on the Bible rather than any scientist's or healer's opinion.

With the lack of scientific consensus it seems unwise for Christians to undergo Acupuncture when it's teachers teach that it is based on a belief of Yin and Yang and Qi: Apart from the obvious spiritual implications of being involved in such a practise, there is the command from God to not worship the way the heaven do, and to avoid the appearance of evil (1Thes 5:22).

For myself as someone who experiences chronic back pain, I believe that God is far more powerful than any Yin and Yang force, and that ultimately he can heal me if he desires to. I know that Biblicaly it is acceptable to see doctors (Paul used to take Luke the physician around with him), however I do not believe that I would be glorifying God by seeking Acupuncture when the basis of it appears to not be on physiology, but rather on Oriental mysticism.
At the end of the day our actions must glorify God,
'So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.'
1 Corinthians 10:31 NET

Peace D

Monday, December 25, 2006

Keepin it real at Christmas

My wife and I have wanted to make sure our 3 year old daughter properly understood what Christmas was about, and so I thought I'd share what we did with her in the morning to celebrate Christmas.
Shay (my wife) made a pretend stable out of chairs and blankets, and put toy animals inside it, and a car seat with our 6 month old baby boy Josiah in it. His job was to play the part of Jesus. We crawled into the stable and explained to Jayda where we were and that Josiah was playing Jesus and asked Jayda who she wanted to be. She decided to be a shepherd, and that Shay and I were to be wise men! We all put blankets with bands around our heads, and Jayda grabbed a cuddly sheep. I then read out the Christmas story from Jayda's beginners Bible, leaving gaps like, "in the town of ...." for her to fill in. We had a really good time doing this, and then we prayed and sang happy birthday to Jesus.
It was a wonderful family time of remembering Jesus breaking into the earth, and of thanking him for doing this. Its one of the many things we can do with our children to keep it real at Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Free Preaching Class

The people at Biblical Training have just put up a new set of mp3s on how to preach. The series is by Dr. Bryan Chapell. I've only listened to the first one so far, but it was excellent.

Here's a little preview of what he says, he defines expository preaching as,
"The meaning of the passage, is the message of the sermon."
- I thought that was a very succinct way of saying something pretty important in this day and age.

Check it out at

Enjoy D

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How important is studying the Bible?

Here's a quote from Grant Osborne,
There is no greater privilege or joy than studying the Word of God. When we realize that God loved us enough not only to send his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but also cared enough for us to give us his revealed truths to challenge and guide our lives, we are amazed at how little we deserve and yet how much he has done for us! There is only one set of final truths in this world, not mathematics or science (for all physical laws are invalid in a quasar or a black hole), but only the Word of God. In this the eternal principles intended to direct us through this life are truly found. Therefore it is both a priviledge and a responsibility to study God's Word as carefully as possible. To fail as a Christian to study God's inspired revelation is tantamount to refusing to know the laws of the country we live in and breaking those laws with impunity. It is a failure that can and will have catastrophic results, for it means we do not care about the rules we have promised to obey by virtue of being citizens of our country - whether that be the USA or Britain or heaven (cf. Phil 3:21)

Grant R. Osborne The Hermeneutical Spiral 2nd Ed. IVP. 2006

B.T.W Further to the previous section on Textual Criticism, I made some scribal errors myslf when copying this text. These involved the anglicanisation of "realise" instead of "realize", and 'God lived' instead of 'God loved'. Imagine what textual critics would have made of this in 1,000 years if I had not been able to correct them easily with a computer?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Nativity Story film review:

Enemy soldiers, a perilous journey, mass murder, and the King of the Universe breaking into this world – what more could you want from a film? Not much, this film is hard to beat.

General vibe of the film:

Overall I thought the film gave the watcher a good sense of living in 1st Century Israel. With only 2 chapters of the Bible to go on (Matthew 2 and Luke 2) the writers had to speculate a lot, but this speculation did not seem to be irreverent or to take the focus too much off the arrival of the Messiah on the earth.

I found the film exciting, and would recommend others to see it.

A Carpenter?

Joseph is portrayed as a wood carpenter, which is the traditional view and is quite possible, however it is also very possible that he was a stone mason. The Greek word tektoon is the word for a builder who uses wood or stone or metal, and as in that area there was more stone than wood, Joseph (and Jesus) may well have been stone masons. This is interesting because it suggests that Jesus was quite a bit tougher than he is often portrayed.

The Magi:

The Magi provide some humour in this film, enough to be enjoyable but not so much as to take away from the seriousness of the plot.

Fortunately in the film they are accurately portrayed as astrologers/wise men and not as Kings. Magi studied the stars and supposedly used both religious and secular knowledge in their studies. In the film they are studying a star and mention some prophecy about a star. I am not aware of any such prophecy in the Bible, but it is thought that in those times stars were seen to signal the births of important people.

We do not know how the Magi came to find out about this star, but God did say in Genesis regarding the creation of stars:

NAU Genesis 1:14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

So we can see how God could allow Magi to understand somehow that this star was a sign.

Just like many Christmas cards the film portrays 3 Magi and gives them the traditional names. This information is not found in the Bible but this does not appear to be a big problem.

One complaint worth making however is that in the film the Magi decide to not go back to Herod; In the Bible this is because of a dream, but this is not shown in the film.

Roman Occupation:

I thought the film did a good job of showing what living in an occupied country would be like. The Roman soldiers turn up all over the place on their horses, either chasing enemies of the state or collecting taxes.

This was a good backdrop for showing the Messianic expectation of the Jewish people at that time.

Messianic Expectation:

Throughout the film you see people making references to the Messiah who they believe will save them soon. As far as we know there was a great deal of Messianic expectation at this time in history, and so this is a good portrayal of the Jewish people. Furthermore there were Jews who were genuine about their worship of God, which is refreshing from the often stereotyped view that every single Jew was a hypocrite.

What was really good was the fact that references were made to the prophecy of the Messiah coming from Bethlehem, we know from Matthew 2 that the chief priests and scribes knew about this and that they told Herod. This element of the film shows how Jesus’s birth was a fulfilment of ancient prophecy.

Tree crucifixions:

The fact that the film maker had consulted scholars about the cultural background of this film is clear from background scenes like people hanging crucified on trees. In those times a number of crucifixions were done this way.

It is worth noting that the well known New Testament scholar Darrell Bock was one of the experts consulted for this movie.

Animal sacrifice:

You will actually see one happen in the film, even with one bloke putting his hand on the animal as a symbol of their sins being transferred to the animal. If you want to read up on this then check out Exodus 29, and Leviticus 4 and 18.

This is a wonderful backdrop for the fact that Jesus is coming and at the end of this life, the sins of the world will be transferred onto him when he dies.


Joseph points out that the shepherd led lonely lives, which hopefully makes the watchers aware that they were not too high on the social strata in those days. Yet God still chose to reveal to them that the Messiah had come.

Sadly you do not get the multitude of angels praising God (Luke 2:13-14). This would have been great part to put in the film.

Also they put the Shepherds together with the Magi at the same time, when the Magi probably arrived a time after.

However it could be argued that this telescoping would not have been a problem to the Jews in those days. What I mean by that is that in ancient Semitic thought it would be okay to paint a picture of Tony Blair and Winston Churchill together in the same painting, both as fully grown men. Of course they would not suppose that the 2 men were around at the same time, but this would be acceptable as an artist’s portrayal. Perhaps therefore we should allow the film maker to portray the two separate visits as one.


The film is reasonably accurate. It is passionate, and I believe it glorifies the Messiah. It’s the best film I’ve seen this year, and it made me want to be even closer to Jesus. Please go and watch it!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Greek for the Street 03a: Greek manuscripts

As promised, here's a video which will explain the history of how the New Testament was passed down throught Alexandrian Greek papyri, Byzantine texts and the Textus Receptus, and subequent English translations of the Bible. It looks at the variations between these manuscripts, and how they prove that the New Testament was not doctored by the church or any one particular group. This is the first part of the Greek for the Street DVD3. The second part (on the DVD) shows how to use ESword Bible software to analyse some of the most common textual variants. If you want to get the DVD then you can get them from our website.

Enjoy, D