Significance of the Virgin Birth

1. Sinlessness of Christ. The sinful nature was absent from His human nature.
2. Divinity. The Virgin Birth made Incarnation possible or else He'd have been a mere human.
3. Uniqueness. Not as Hercules, having 2 fathers, on divine, one human.
4. Miraculous. The supernaturalness of the event. Not natural.
5. One Person. 2 Natures but one person. If born of a human father and mother then a new person (dual personality is contradictory)
6. Divine Act. Prophesied beforehand by Isaiah.
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Can We Trust the Bible?

I am convinced that we can trust the Bible: trust it as the true revelation of God. The pluralism of “revelations” calls for the exercise of the law of non-contradiction. The modern relativistic, pluralistic mood looks at the Bible as another “truth”. But the fact is that there can never be an absolute infrastructure for relative truth. They always differ in their infrastructure though the superstructure might appear to be the same. The trustworthiness of the Bible is a very important issue, since it addresses issues of ultimate concern: Theology, Cosmology, and Teleology (purpose, salvation). And it supercedingly differs from other “revelatory” sources. Either the Bible is true or false; it is either trustworthy or non-trustworthy. How do we know if we can trust the Bible, then?

  1. The Philosophical Test of Internal Consistency. In depth study shows that the Bible is never self-contradictory or self-defeating. As a matter of fact, though the books of the Bible were written over a time span of more than 1000 years by different men of differing intellectual status, economic status, and cultural background etc, yet the Bible is indubitably seen to be strewn together by one theme—redemption. It is internally consistent.

  2. The Correspondence Test. The accounts and statements of the Bible factually correspond to the truth of history (archaeology) and science. The prophecy of Scriptures also corresponds with its fulfillment in history.

  3. The Cosmological Test. The writers of the Biblical books were genuine, truthful men—many of them ready to give their lives for the truth (e.g. Jeremiah, John, Paul, Peter…). They could never have been deceivers. The Bible itself speaks of them as being moved by the Spirit. Concerning whether they were perpetuating falsehood, the philosophical and the correspondence test has examined the claims and accounts.

  4. The Community Test. The Bible has never done any harm to any society which could trace the vindication of its actions to the Biblical principles themselves (the Crusaders couldn’t trace their moral concepts to the principles of the Bible). The community has always benefited by the principles of the Bible. The modern clarion for equality of men and women, freedom of rights, justice, non-violence, can be best traced to the teachings of the Bible alone. The Bible has transformed whole peoples, clans, and tribes.

  5. The Pragmatic Test. The Biblical truth works. It is still working. The Gospel truly is powerfully changing the lives of thousands daily. Voltaire said that a hundred years from his time, the Bible would be extinct. Voltaire is dead and gone, his thoughts and philosophy known by a mere few; the Bible is still the best selling, far-reaching Book of all books. All the philosophies of all philosophers in history put together couldn’t change the nature of one man. Ironically, this Book that the philosophers disdain at has turned the world upside down.


In conclusion, the Bible is the most trustworthy Book in the world. Even science books are not always trustworthy—they indulge much in theories of convenience. Can we trust the Bible? Why can’t we? There are enough proof for the authenticity and reasonability of this Book on the basis of which we can place faith and trust in its revelation of God Himself and also the end and salvation of the universe.

© Domenic Marbaniang, Sept. 21, 2000.
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A Basis For Depending On Scripture (Seminary Papers)

MDiv, CITS, Sept 11, 2000

THOUGH there may be a way of depending on the Scripture (i.e., the Bible) without any adherence to or trust in its content (e.g. one may depend on the Bible for knowledge concerning what the early Christians believed and how they behaved, etc), dependence on Scripture, here, means dependence on the infallibility of and the reliability of Scriptural truth—and so to live life on the basis of what the Bible says concerning life. I contend, then, that the true basis of depending on the Scripture is the real fulfillment of the ultimate existential necessity of life in experience.

It is not what can be known by experience or reason that the Bible is depended for, but more for what it says concerning the unknown – concerning the Infinite, the origin and destiny of man and the cosmos, the significance of life, etc. The Bible, then, is a revelation – and this is generally accepted as a fact. Thus, the accounts of history and other writings are not mere accounts but a revelation of God’s working in history and in personal lives, His significance. But why believe the Biblical revelation rather than any other, seeing that the Hindus, the Sikhs, and the Moslems also claim their respective scriptures as being the true revelation? The answer has been given: the real fulfillment of the ultimate existential necessity of life in experience.

But doesn’t this seem to indicate that the basis is a mere subjective one and would very well justify the claims of a Hindu or a Sikh? The answer is that though the fulfillment is a subjective one, as it needs to be, it is not unreal and incongruous with the body of known truth. The nature of fulfillment doesn’t contradict reality. This is where reason comes into its role. Thus, though reason in itself is not the basis, it assists the basis. For since revelation deals with the unknown, there rises the possibility and the danger that anything can be said of the unknown. How then can it ever be known if the “revelation” is true or false?

Revelation is related to faith, and faith is relative (i.e., each one’s faith differs from the other; the proof that Thomas Didymus needed to believe in the resurrection might not have been necessary for the other disciples). I do not, however, endorse by this blind faith, which is almost always a result of traditional upbringing and narrowed thinking. And though faith is relative, it is inconvenient for one not to be able to give reasons for his faith. Thus, one might point to the historical accuracy of the Bible, another to its prophetical fulfillments, another to its scientific verity, and some other to the accuracy of its principles as applicable in life. The above are not the basis of depending, however. It often, and most often, happens that belief precedes the above kinds of proofs. And, furthermore, the above proofs deal mostly with physical and finite facts, whereas, the Bible is depended on for mainly its revelation of ultimate truth. Reason requires that where one is fallible and erroneous on natural truth, it or he is unreliable for knowledge concerning ultimate and transcendental[1] truth. The non-biblical revelatory sources fall short of this requirement of reliability in natural truth.

Reason and faith are distinct from each other; faith is irrational—thus, it would be a circular argument trying to prove by reason why one believes in reason. As said earlier, belief comes first, at least in most cases, and reason aids or strengthens it. Thus one may never be able to depend on the Bible, truthfully speaking, unless he first “knows” it (in the same manner that one can’t depend on another person without “knowing” him). And to “know” is a subjective experience. Also seeing that this experience wouldn’t be significant enough unless the experience and the revelation have something in common, it must also be said that the experience is a very significant and an existential one.

Furthermore, the fact of depending itself proves that there is a reason and a necessity for doing so, and that, an existential necessity. This existential necessity is the ultimate one in that it seeks an answer to the ultimate “why” of existence. The Bible provides an answer to this ultimate “why” of existence. And how does it do so? Of course, in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, one may listen to a preaching, or to a testimony, or even have a direct revelation of Jesus Christ and be converted. He is told or comes to know that the Bible is the Guide of Truth for a Christian and believes it. Questions may arise later, but they wouldn’t shake him off very easily, since he is also continuing in knowing the Lord Jesus personally (to know Christ is to know the Bible). Thus would many a Christian say along with Sadhu Sundar Singh “I believe in the Gospels because of the Christ of the Gospels”. It is not that the Bible fulfills the ultimate existential necessity of life; but that because by coming to a “knowledge” (personal) of Christ, one’s ultimate existential necessity is fulfilled. This experience of real fulfillment is the basis for depending on the Scriptures, which Christ Himself believed to be the truth (Mt.22:29; Jn.5:39), and that speak of His revelation. And as one progresses in “knowing” the Scripture and through it Christ (the Christ of History is the Christ of faith and the Christ of experience) one intensifies in his dependence on the Scriptures. Christ gives meaning and vigour to his life (The ultimate “why” is existential and isn’t an attempt to know God’s mind, which is impossible).

In conclusion, seeing that the Scripture needs to be believed on for its answer to the ultimate “why” of existence, and this truth being transcendental is unverifiable in itself, unless there is some other alternative way to verify it, it becomes necessary that reason come into role here and decide whether the Bible is reliable in its logical form and statements of natural facts. But greater and more important than this objective verification is the subjective experience of fulfillment in Jesus Christ which is the basis for depending on the Scripture that reveals Him. If He isn’t living and active in my life, nothing which speaks of Him is reliable existentially.


[1] Cp. Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The sense of the world must lie outside the world…. What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental. It must lie outside the world.” (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 6.41; reproduced by John Hick in Philosophy of Religion, 1970).


© Domenic Marbaniang, 2000
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DEMOCRACY AND ETHICS

© Domenic Marbaniang, 1999.


India is a democratic country; and by that we mean it is governed by us, its people [“democracy”, from the Greek democratia: demos, people, and kratia, government or rule]. Ethics refers to the study of moral conduct, of “what one ought to do”.

Our nation recognizes the ideals of Justice, liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in its constitution. With the complexity of religious beliefs, its diversities, secularistic views, and the influence of the media ethical decisions are becoming more and more difficult in our society. The film producer defends his stance of overloading his film with sex as right, while a religious or even a secular man opposes it as morally depraving and detrimental to society. The advertisement agencies technically propagate lies deluding people to believe something which is not true. Our nation has found itself in a closet of ethical relativism – subjectivism and conventionalism. Variant religions assume their own moral standards. The Western culture is having a profound influence in our society, especially through the media (TV, Cinema, Song Albums, Novels, Journals, etc.). In such a context of diversity, and complexity, what kind of ethical standard should we, as citizens of democratic India, adopt form making ethical decisions? Following are some options:

1. Ethical Egoism (from the Greek ego, I). It is a consequentialist ethical theory (“the end justifies the means”) which asserts that “right” is what is beneficial in the end to the individual (“to me”). Two of its forms are: Hedonism, according to which pleasure is the ultimate good; and Self-realization, according to which knowledge, power, or rational self-interest, and the promotion of all one’s capacities is the ultimate good. Its method of justification is self-interest.

This theory, of course, poses a number of problems. There is the issue of conflicting interests, the danger of self-benefit at the expense of others; and in a democratic country like ours, it cannot be the ultimate standard of ethical decisions.

2. Utilitarianism: This also is a consequentialist theory that asserts that “right” is what produces the greatest quantity of happiness or pleasure. Its two forms are: Act Utilitarianism, the morality of an action is determined by the quantity of happiness it produces for the most people; Rule Utilitarianism, our actions should be governed by such a rule that produces the greatest happiness for the most people. Its method of justification is empirical evidence.

The problem of this theory mainly consists in the problem of knowledge. How do I know that my action have produced the greatest happiness for the most people? How can I trust the authenticity of the consequences? What about the minority? Is what is happiness to me, or in my sight, happiness to everybody else?

3. Altruism: (from the Italian altrui, “someone else). This is the theory of self-sacrifice, of concern for the welfare of others, and as such is opposed to egoism. It is the attitude of selflessness. It is doubtful if this theory is applicable to the majority: for a person cannot be selfless unless this position and attitude produces in him a greater satisfaction and happiness.

Now, which of the above criteria is applicable in a democratic society? It is my opinion that none of them as a solitude can be applied. A person should consider egoism (not total egoism) for self-development, utilitarianism for society’s benefit and happiness, and altruism that he may not become overly self-interested but will have concern for the welfare of others as well. The blending of these three together will produce an ethical standard applicable in a democratic society; a democratic ethic, which has respect for the ideals, aspirations, and talents of others.
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