Have Christians Misunderstood The Book of Acts?

Acts, book of Acts, Luke, Physician, misunderstood, hermeneutics, how to study the book of Acts, denominations, deno minions, Church, interpretation, instruction, New Testament letters, Epistles, Synagogue, How to read the Bible for all its worth, Douglas Stuart, Gordon Fee, Zondervan, Christian, Bible study

Have you ever been in a place where non-Christians (and Christians!) have condemned Christianity for having so many denominations and divisions?

Consternation over denominations
If you are like me, you may have responded by trying to either present your own church as the most noble and correct one since Jesus rose from the dead (bad move!), or you may have mumbled something about Christians not being perfect!

You may have ruefully wondered- why do so many denominations exist in God’s kingdom anyway?

Church denominations are not a new fad- different types of churches had begun forming right after the early history of Christianity. Wikipedia lists at least 40 major divisions within Christianity, with myriad sub-divisions. One source says  by 2001, there were nearly 33,000 Christian denominations across the planet, but all this really depends on how you define the term “denomination”.

Acts, book of Acts, Luke, Physician, misunderstood, hermeneutics, how to study the book of Acts, denominations, deno minions, Church, interpretation, instruction, New Testament letters, Epistles, Synagogue, How to read the Bible for all its worth, Douglas Stuart, Gordon Fee, Zondervan, Christian, Bible study

But then again- how come so many Christian denominations?!

Denominations and the “Acts” effect

Here are some reasons. Some people had desired Continue reading “Have Christians Misunderstood The Book of Acts?”

CLPF Pune- Church leaders together in prayer!

My first chance to attend the Church Leaders Prayer Fellowship (CLPF) Pune was a few months ago as part of my work. When I first heard that church leaders gather to pray to Jesus together, I must confess my first few thoughts were –

Can we have that level of unity, what with the multitude of denominations and theological differences in Pune churches?

I was a bit apprehensive. What kind of “leaders” was I to expect there? Continue reading “CLPF Pune- Church leaders together in prayer!”

A Love Letter To Christian Parents

Dear Christian parent at Marg Wanowrie church,

You might have just heated up an early dinner for your child.
Let’s say that was the plan!

As a responsible parent, you want to give your best to your child. You have read really good authors on parenting. Heard powerful sermons on Godly parenting by the best preachers in Christendom. You hope that your child will soon exhibit the results of your renewed efforts. But you cringe at those times when your child disobeys you, launches a ball and breaks a china plate at someone else’s house. You dread your church members shaking their heads in disapproval at your child’s behaviour. Continue reading “A Love Letter To Christian Parents”

‘PK’ – A Marg Movie Review

PK, Hirani, Christian, review, movie, Marg, Pune, Aamir Khan

“Believe in the God who created you, not the gods you have created.”

This line sums up the main message behind PK, Rajkumar Hirani’s movie that has the largest collection – Rs. 339 Crore in India at the time of writing this- and also has managed to stir up a controversy with some religious outfits calling for its ban claiming it had hurt their religious sentiments.

Plot

What then is PK about? The movie revolves around a benign alien played by Aamir Khan, who visits the earth to learn about it’s inhabitants. After the loss of his communication device, he soon gets named PK and begins experiencing human nature – and the human belief in gods who can help them. The movie is about his quest for the device that leads to encounters with a crowd of ”gods”, religions and godmen.

PK, Hirani, Christian, review, movie, Marg, Pune, Aamir Khan
PK Movie Poster

Enjoyable yet makes you think hard
Right from the beginning, the movie had my wife and I laughing out loud over PK picking up a local language, what with his hilarious questions and interpretations of all things Indian. Aamir Khan’s role of the child-like alien, caught unawares in a wild world, teeming with scheming people, grabs your attention. While the story is well done, this is not the only movie from Bollywood that has questioned godmen, idol worship and India’s religions. But unlike the Akshay Kumar starrer “Oh My God”, “PK” with its innocuous questions, scrutinises gods not just godmen.
The director Hirani claims to respect Hinduism. With PK, he seems to have tapped into a growing profusion of Indians who have seen through the powerlessness of idols in representing God. Indeed, that concurs with the Bible (Psalm 135:15,18, Jonah 2:8). I too believe idols can never represent the only God, who is the fullest expression of person, and therefore are a false front, a “wrong number”.

What didn’t make sense
All movies inform. They make an attempt to transmit to viewers the key message the director wants them to leave with. I feel Hirani does a great job asking questions we all need to hear about our gods. Unfortunately, I found PK’s answers too shallow.

1) PK leaves God undefined
“Worship the God who created us”? Well, WHO created us?

A main element of worship is finding satisfaction in the object of worship. Does he expect us to worship someone we do not know? In fact, almost every religion will claim to be the One direct link to the Creator God.
Is Hirani suggesting we chuck the claims of all religions because they are man-made? Is that not the creation of another man-made faith? Who is to say then, which man-made faith should we follow? Rubbishing all religions in a superficial manner is just throwing the baby out with the bath-water.

2) Will the real children of God please stand up?
While it would be ridiculous to expect ‘PK’ to be Christian in it’s world-view, PK uses phrases like “we are all children of God”. It seems Hirani doesn’t mind borrowing from religions for the sake of argument. But what if the Creator God has to say something about what kind of children mankind really are (Eph 2:3)? PK seems to question all assumptions, but this one is left untouched. Probably for good, because the movie would not have had the impact it generated. It’s after all a movie, not a documentary.

3) The total rejection of fear in religion
While there has been an abuse of fear for personal gain, which I strongly oppose,  is fear always manipulation? What if the Creator God values justice so much that He will not spare even His own Son Jesus to see that justice is done? Some faiths might value people enough to warn them about the God’s punishment for those who are unjust in any manner.
Maybe fear is not always bad. Is that not why we warn children not to play with fire?

4) Contradiction regarding the Christian faith
Hirani’s accuracy in relaying the message of Christ dying for the sins of people is commendable. But he has not done enough research on, at least, the Christian faith. One person in the movie actually says, “if God wanted me to become a Christian, He would have made me to be born in Christian family”. This misunderstanding of the Christian faith, now propagated, saddens me.

The notion that you become a Christian by being born into a Christian family seems to make sense, right? But can a child born into a family of doctors be declared a doctor?

That makes no sense at all! Hirani actually contradicts himself here because PK says earlier in the movie that “no one is born with the stamp of religion”. Then how did the Christian child come with the stamp of Christianity?

The Bible says we are ALL born sinners, displeasing God with our selfish hearts from birth. No one can become a Christian on their own without surrendering to Christ and believing in His mind-blowing sacrifice for their sins, displaying the Creator God’s true love towards people who don’t deserve it. I expected a noted film-maker like Hirani to not promote basic misunderstandings about faiths. I only hope his depiction of other religions in ‘PK’ have been accurate.

5) God is obliged to answer us. Really?
“PK” also portays the popular idea that God will help us in trouble, or when we are in need. Which is why we see Aamir Khan’s character running from temple to mosque to pray for his device. Interestingly, the Bible gives no guarantee of answered prayer.

Even Jesus’ final prayer to avoid his own murder, gets a ‘No‘ from his Father, God. Why? Does not God love people?

God loves us best by doing His good purposes, not ours. This is a hard pill to swallow for me too, but our nation needs to know this God, not some butler who exists to serve our needs.

Why I would not want to be PK
I loved the character ‘PK’. He is unassuming, something we all cannot be easily. He is shown to be the ideal we need to be. But I don’t need to be like PK. He seems to be content with enquiry after enquiry.

Though questions are important, we were not made to just ask questions.

I love being like Jesus, because my personal questions of life, death and true satisfaction have been graciously answered in Him.

Wish someone had taken the trouble to tell PK life is not about our questions or our needs- it is about a relationship with Jesus, that only He can grant us.

Go watch it!
But I realise it’s easy to throw stones at a movie that stands out shining among many others that ruin our lives starting with lousy posters. So, here’s to PK for raising some excellent, relevant questions, for talented acting and a hilarious yet touching story-line. Go watch it before that spaceship leaves.
And if you have questions that make your life lool , I suggest you bring them to the Bible.

What did you like or not like about ‘PK’?  Please share your comments below.

– Aravind Pulickel

Disclaimer: This blog post only expresses the author’s personal views for which the author claims sole responsibility. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the view of Margfamilies. Those who find any content here objectionable, may contact the author at aravind (at) margfamilies (dot) com for clarification.