by Christopher Roberts
As I sat at my computer the other day to take a look at some of the news stories posted on the NowGrenada.com website, I came across an article that I found very interesting, for which I felt the need to respond to it. The article in question is entitled ‘Second-Guessing Jesus This Christmas Season,’ by Keith Williams.
I do believe that the writer was essentially calling into question the effectiveness and crime-solving scrupulousness of the criminal justice system in our country, while also taking aim at some of the controversial views on capital punishment expressed by members of our Grenadian society. I must admit that in light of the recent crimes that have been making the headlines in Grenada, I too have found myself questioning the current state of our criminal justice system and the effectiveness of our crime prevention initiatives.
However, I find myself at odds with Keith Williams where in his article, he misrepresented a few biblical passages referencing the character and nature of God, and further went on to deny the authenticity of the Christian faith. For these reasons I felt compelled to respond to his article and as such, I will attempt to correct some of these misrepresented views at the very end. But I too would like [to] give my two-cents on the issues affecting our nation.
Now as a Grenadian, I never cease to be shocked and appalled at the violent, abusive and criminal acts that have been plaguing the airwaves as of late. And with the apparent rise of child sexual abuse (or more so, the issue coming to light) and the string of recent violent murders that have occurred, one has to wonder just how we, as a society, got to this place of moral decline. When the news broke of the murder of young Ariel Bhola, the nation was sent into a frenzy. Cries of justice, vengeance and vigilantism gushed from the lips of onlookers who felt emotionally impacted in some way by this senseless murder. But as this year comes to a close with a new one just on the horizon, we must ask an important question, “Where do we go from here?”
I agree mostly with Williams’ discourse where in his article he makes a bold attempt to get readers to immerse themselves in the concept of What Would Jesus Say (WWJS), proposing that vengeance and barbarism is not the solution in the administration of justice. It is true that the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, and in the scriptures even urges us to forgive others. Yet, we must remember that God is a God of justice and judgment, and hates wickedness (Nahum 1:2-3, Luke 5:32, Luke 13:3, Matthew 13:41-43). Therefore, we cannot be barbaric towards criminality nor can we pamper it. Also, while I believe in Jesus’ atonement for sin, I however, do not believe it negates our responsibility to obey the laws of the land (Mark 12:17, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 3:17-18, 1 Peter 4:14-15).
With that said, I don’t think that the downward spiral of the moral framework of the Grenadian society is solely due to societal, cultural, psychological and legal factors, but rather largely to spiritual ones which in turn negatively impacts society, culture, our psyche and the legal system. The perverse lyrics in popular songs hitting the airwaves, the deep levels of godlessness, occultism and corruption portrayed in the film, television and music industries around the world, and the immoral lifestyles people live day by day are all products of human hearts that are blackened and tainted with sin and which are heavily influenced by external evil spiritual forces all around us. In other words, the real problem is mostly spiritual.
Sad to say, there are many who are endlessly trying to solve spiritual problems with mere cultural, societal, psychological and legal methods. Now don’t get me wrong. We may make some strides with these methods, but they generally result in behaviour modification while profoundly failing to change the dark conditions of the heart (the core) and soul of an individual (Matthew 15:18-20, Proverbs 23:7).
I oppose the outcries for barbaric vengeance in response to the recent crimes in the country. I however, do not believe that simple prison time and/or psychological rehabilitation in the final stage of criminal justice, and crime-prevention initiatives by civil-society organisations and youth groups are the end-all solutions to fixing the crime epidemic. You can appeal to a person’s cognisance, but if their heart (or the condition of their soul) does not change, what’s the point? I mean, how many of us know something is wrong, even may have serious consequences, yet do it anyway?
What all Grenadians truly need in a time as this, is a true supernatural heart transformation. One that comes through us believing in God and accepting His Son Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Deliverer, and allowing Him, His Holy Spirit and His Word to change our hearts and renew our minds. This would result in true change and will allow us to see and experience a deeper meaning to the phrase PURE GRENADA.
In closing, I want to call Keith Williams’ attention to the following points:
- Regarding God’s immutability – this speaks of the fact that God cannot change: He will always be who He is. He will always be all-loving, all-powerful, all-mighty. Therefore, He cannot get worse, for that would mean He would have failure or some deficiency somewhere in Himself as God. He cannot get better because He’s already the best. God exists as the Heavenly Father, the eternal Word or Son (the Jewish Jesus Christ during His time on earth) and the Holy Ghost. The Godhead: three distinct individuals, yet one LORD, one GOD – this speaks of the plurality and singularity of God (1 John 5:7, Genesis 1:26, John 1:1-14. Jesus Christ (God the Son), concealing His divinity and taking on human form does not negate His existence as God.
- Regarding the need for Jesus’ atonement. Jesus forgave the sins of certain individuals who expressed faith in Him. This is quite similar to the story in Genesis before the days of the Law where God declared Abraham righteous on account of his faith (Genesis 15:6). Furthermore, John the Baptist, before Christ was revealed, preached the baptism of repentance (Mark 1:1-5, Isaiah 40:1-3). These unique scenarios however, like all the instances of atonement in the Old Testament, were precursors (God’s promissory note of salvation for those who trusted and obeyed Him before Christ’s sacrifice) of the salvation Jesus would make available to all men through His atonement (Hebrews 10:1-5, Romans 4, Galatians 3:6-14). Through Jesus’ work on the cross, the past and the then current saints’ salvation came to true fulfillment, and salvation for future saints (like people of today and beyond) was made available. His sacrifice transcended time (past, present and future).
- Regarding why Jesus was condemned. The Jewish religious leaders who opposed Him and did not accept Him as the Messiah, wrongfully accusing Him of trying to change Jewish laws and customs to create some new unlawful system of belief, which eventually lead to His betrayal, condemnation and death. Much of the Old Testament laws and customs were shadows of Jesus’ ministry, atonement, death, burial and resurrection, and His second coming where, in His return, He would set up His Kingdom on earth in the Millennial Reign where He will rule from Jerusalem with the saints of old, the church (all who come to faith in Him) and the Jewish people who will come to faith in Him in a future time (tribulation period). Jesus’ time on earth meant that He would fulfill all the prophecies made about His first coming, ministry and atonement among other things. His death on the cross was God’s master-plan for the atonement of humanity’s sins, making salvation available to both Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 26:57-68, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Matthew 20:17-19, Zechariah 12:1-9, Zechariah 14, Revelation 20). Please note that Jesus came for everyone – both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) (John 1:10-12).
- About Paul misappropriating Jesus’ teachings and that Christianity was his brainchild. I’ll encourage you to read the book of Acts (particularly chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 26). Take a look with an unbiased eye at Christians who ARE living for Christ faithfully today and the supernatural occurrences in many their own lives and then ask yourself, “Could all this be the product of a mere man?”