Views of Time: Eternalism, Presentism, Linear or Cyclical

Did you know that there are two ways people look at time?

1. The Eternalist View. The universe is viewed as a block in which past, present, and future are already just there. In this popular view, the Terminator can travel back and try to kill John Corner or Harry Porter can travel back and save Harry Porter!! Similarly, you can travel into future... or perhaps just see it?? Not that time-travel is possible, but this is the theoretical setup for such views.
2. The Presentist View. Time flows here. The universe is only the present which flees as soon as we can catch the present. The past and the future don't exist in the moment, though the past is fixed, and the future indefinite. Did you know that St. Augustine tried to locate the point in time where the universe is said to be present? Well, divisibility is infinite, so better not try it. No doubt, Kant called the grapes sour by taking refuge in idealism - time for his is just mental.
1. Linear Time: Time is a line that began somewhere in the past, is continuing in the present, and will end somewhere in the future.
2. Cyclical Time: Time is a cycle, and thus infinite. The Jains talk of Utsarpini (ascending arc) and Avasarpini (descending arc); the Hindus, of Sristi (Creation) and Pralaya (Dissolution).

Incarnation Vs. Avatar: 8 Differences

Some tend to confuse the incarnation of Christ with the avatars of Hinduism. There are a few who even consider Christ to be the tenth avatar or the Kalki avatar. However, there are significant fundamental differences between the incarnation and the avatars. Following are a few of them:

1. Real. Christ truly incarnated in flesh, real flesh.
1. Appearance. The avatar appears to be in flesh. The physical body is a mere garment that the soul puts on and puts off (Bhagavad Gita 2.22).
2. Permanent. The incarnation was permanent and irrevocable. Christ continues to be in flesh.
2. Impermanent. The avatar returns to its former form after the fulfillment of its mission.
3. Complete. Christ became full man. He is full man and full God.
3. Partial. The avatar is semi and partial. It is never fully incarnated. The avatar is considered to be purna (full) when the divine is fully manifested in the human; however, it does not mean that the avatar is also fully human at the same time, i.e., fully participates in human pain.
4. Propitiatory. Christ’s incarnation was propitiatory. He came in flesh to represent man to God as a Mediator and High Priest, and to sacrifice His body for the sins of the world. There would not be a need for omnipotent God to incarnate in order to destroy sinners.
4. Vindicatory. The avatar appears to destroy the sinners and to save the righteous.
5. Revolutionary. Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection destroys the old order and establishes a new order. The new order is the Kingdom of believers in Christ, who partake of the resurrection from the dead and inherit the Kingdom of the Son.
5. Restorative. The avatar restores the world to its original state of balance (dharma) by removing the elements of wickedness (adharma). The world then moves along in the same way until the surge of iniquity again invokes another avatara.
6. Impartational. The virtue of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ is imparted to the believer who is reckoned to be united with Christ in His Body.
6. Segregated. The avatar preserves a discontinuity between the world and the deity throughout. They are never united in one.
7. Final. Christ’s incarnation was final. It can’t be repeated again.
7. Several. The avatars are many and cyclical.
8. Trinitarian. The doctrinal setting of incarnation is Trinitarianism. There is only One God who is Triune, Tri-personal, and distinct from the universe.
8. Polytheistic. The setting of avatars is polytheistic that avouches myriads of finite gods, demons, the world of magic, and a cyclical and evolutionary view of the universe.

© Domenic Marbaniang, February 2010.

Updated November 24, 2015

The Death of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

‘Whom having not seen, ye love.’ (Peter, 1 Peter 1:8)

The crowd watched in desperation as the old man was violently conducted into the stadium. Old Polycarp, pastor of the Church at Smyrna and disciple of John, walked silently as the tumult grew greater.

‘Think of your old age. Swear and I will let you go: deny Christ,’ the Proconsul said.

‘Eighty and six years’ replied Polycarp boldly, ‘have I served Him, and He never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King and my Savior?’

There was exchange of words, persuasive and compelling; but old Polycarp stood adamant in His faith. The Proconsul realized that more words were futile, so he threatened to throw him to the beasts. The old Christian wasn’t intimidated. Finally, the sentence was passed: Polycarp was to be burnt at stake.

The customary Roman practice of executing criminals by fire was to first nail them to the stake to prevent escape. However, Polycarp was not nailed but simply bound as he assured the executioners that he would not move. The fire was lighted and the flames rose in voracious fury, but they couldn’t touch him. Exasperated at this, the enemies ordered an executioner to go near and pierce the old man with a dagger. As soon as he did that, blood flowed in so great quantity that it extinguished the flame. Polycarp’s body was burnt in the fire; his remains, however, were taken by the Christians and decently interred.

Foxe Book of Martyrs
The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp.

© Domenic Marbaniang, March 2008.

नववर्ष में निर्भय प्रवेश – New Year Message

© Dr. Matthew K. Thomas, 2010

President of Central India Theological Seminary, Executive Board Member of Pentecostal World Felloship, Chairman of the Fellowship of Pentecostal Churches in India

© डॉ. मैथ्‍यू के. थॉमस, 2010

नए वर्ष के प्रारंभ ही में हमने ऐसे त्रासदी भरी घटनाओं के बारे में सुन लिया है, जिससे संसार आज भय के चपेट में आ गया हैं। हाल ही में एक भयानक भूकम्‍प ने हायती देश की राजधानी में ही एक लाख से अधिक लोगों की एक ही दिन में  जान ले ली। फिर कोई आतंकवादी संघटन का मुखिया ने कल ऐलान कर दिया कि उसके पास इतना परमाणु शक्ति है कि वह सारे विश्‍व को पंद्राह मिनटों में नाश कर सकता है। संसार स्‍वयं मौत एवं आतंक का ऐसा खतरनाक समुद्र बन चुका है जिसमें जीवन और भविष्‍य हर वक्‍त समाप्ति के कगार पर ही पाए जाते हैं। ऐसे परिस्थितियों में परमेश्‍वर का वचन हमारे लिए दैवीय सच्‍चाई का वह सीख देता है जो हमें भय के बंधन से मुक्‍त कर ईश्‍वरीय भलाई और करूणा के साथ हमें इस नववर्ष में प्रवेश दिलाता है।

इब्रानियों 13:5,6,8 के अनुसार:

'जो तुम्हारे पास है, उसी पर संतोष किया करो; क्‍योंकि उस ने आप ही कहा है, कि मैं तुझे कभी न छोडूंगा, और न कभी तुझे त्यागूंगा।  इसलिथे हम बेधड़क होकर कहते हैं, कि प्रभु, मेरा सहाथक है; मैं न डरूंगा; मनुष्य मेरा क्‍या कर सकता है.... यीशु मसीह कल और आज और युगानुयुग एकसा है।'

भय पॉच क्रियाओं के द्वारा मनुष्‍य को ईश्‍वरीय विजय से अलग करता है:
1. भय हमारे सोच-विचार को अनरूप एवं विकृत कर देता है।
2. भय संतों के मन को अनुत्‍साहित कर देता है।
3. भय हमारे लिए ईश्‍वर की सुयोजना को अनदेखी कर देता है।
4. भय ईश्वर के संदेश एवं प्रतिज्ञाओं पर अविश्‍वास जताता है।
5. भय दैवीय सिद्धांत के प्रति अनाज्ञारिता दर्शाता है।

इस नव वर्ष में निर्भय प्रवेश हेतु इब्रानियों 13:5,6,8 में हम चार शक्ति मूल्‍यों को देख सकते है।
1. उसके प्रबंधन की संतुष्टि
2. उसकी उपस्थिति की सहभागिता
3. उसके प्रतिज्ञाओं का आश्‍वासन
4. उसकी सुरक्षा की सांत्‍वना

1.  उसके प्रबंधन की संतुष्टि। वचन कहता है: ''जो तुम्हारे पास है, उसी पर संतोष किया करो।' हमारा पिता परमेश्‍वर हमारे लिए सब भ‍‍ली वस्‍तुओं का प्रबंध किया है। परन्‍तु मनुष्‍य जब असं‍तुष्टि की चपेट में आ जाता है तो इसे समझ नही पाता। संतुष्टि के चार महान शत्रु है: चिंता, अविश्‍वास, अकेलापन, एवं लालच या लोभ। 2पतरस 1:3 के अनुसार जीवन एवं भक्ति के लिए जो भी बातें आवश्‍यक हैं उनहे परमेश्‍वर ने हमे दे दिया है। हमें बरकतों को स्‍मरण रखकर एक धन्‍यवादी हृदय के साथ आनंदमय जीवन को व्‍यतीत करना है। यह सं‍तुष्टि एवं आनंद परिस्थितियों पर आधारित नहीं परंतु परमेश्‍वर के साथ हमारे सम्‍बंध का प्रमाण है। भजनकार कहता है कि वह हर दिन हमें भली वस्‍तुओं से तृप्‍त करता है। जब चारों तरफ आर्थिक अव्‍यवस्‍ता फैल रही है और बेरोजगारी एवं गरीबी मनुष्‍य को प्रताडित कर रही है तो परमेश्‍वर का वचन हमें स्‍मरण दिलाता है कि हमारे पिता ने हमारे लिए सभी बातों का प्रबंध कर दिया है। मुझे मेरे जीवन के वे दिन स्‍म्‍रण है जब मुझे होशंगबाद किसी कार्यक्रम के लिए जाना था और हमारे घर में बस के टिकट खरीदने के लिए भी पैसे नही थे। मैने इसे कोई कमजोरी नही समझा; हम साईकिल से वहा तक गए। एक समय था जब हमें रोज नहाने के लिए रैलवे स्‍टेशन जाना पडता था। लेकिन ऐसी अवस्‍था में असंतुष्टि हम पर प्रबल नही हो पाई क्‍योंकि हम अपने पिता परमेश्‍वर के प्रबंध को जानते थे। समय पर वह अपने खजाने में से एक एक आशीष हमारे जीवन में लाता गया। आज भी हम उतने ही आनंदित है जितना उस समय थे, क्‍योंकि हम अपने प्रबंध करने वाले पिता को भली भांति जानते है।

1 थेस्‍सलोनिकियों 5:16,17,18 हमें यह सिखाता कि एक धन्‍यवाद से भरा हुआ हृदय परमेश्‍वर की इच्‍छा को पूरा करता है। परमेश्‍वर चाहता है कि हम हमेशा आनंदित, धन्‍यवादित, एवं प्रार्थना करते रहें। भजन 34:10 कहता है: जवान सिंहों को तो घटी होती और वे भूखे भी रह जाते हैं; परन्तु यहोवा के खोजियोंको किसी भली वस्तु की घटी न होवेगी। हाल ही में हमारे फैलोशिप को सहायता भेजने वाले चार महान दानियों ने हमें लिखा कि वे हमें सहायता नहीं भेज सकते है। लेकिन हम जानते है कि जब कोई दर्वाजा बंद होता है तो ईश्‍वर दूसरा दर्वाजा खोलने के लिए तैयार रहता है क्‍योंकि उसके प्रबंधन ही से यह संसार और यह सेवकाई भी चलती है। इसलिए हमें किसी बात का भय नहीं। हम इस नए वर्ष में निर्भयता के साथ, हृदय में एक दैवीय संतुष्टि को लेकर प्रवेश कर रहे हैं, और हम चाहते है कि आप भी ईश्‍वरीय भलाई को स्‍मरण रखते हुए बडे आनंद, विश्‍वास, और अपेक्षा के साथ इस नव वर्ष में प्रवेश करें।

2.  उसकी उपस्थिति की सहभागिता। परमेश्‍वर का वचन कहता है, 'मैं तुझे कभी न छोडूंगा, और न कभी तुझे त्यागूंगा।' प्रभु यीशु मसीह के द्वारा हम जिस दैवीय रिश्‍ते एवं संगति में प्रवेश कराये गये है वह कभी टूटने वाली नही है (1यूहन्‍ना 1:3)। बाईबल बताती है कि एक दुध पिलाती मां अपने बच्‍चे को त्‍याग सकती है, परन्‍तु परमेश्‍वर हमें कभी नहीं त्‍यागता। निश्‍चय इसमें कोई संदेह नहीं की मनुष्‍य अपने मन का अनुकरण कर पथभ्रष्‍ट हो जाता है, परन्‍तु परमेश्‍वर की उपस्थिति हमारे साथ कायम रहती। दुख की बात तो यह है कि कई लोग इस बात को समझ नहीं पाते और इस कारण से ईश्‍वर उनके निकट होने पर भी वे उसकी संगति में प्रवेश नहीं कर पाते है, न उसमें सहभागी हो पाते हैं। लेकिन उसके उपस्थिति का ज्ञान एवं एहसास भर भय को दूर कर देता है, इसलिए भजनकार कहता है, 'तेरे निकट आनन्द की भरपूरी है, तेरे दहिने हाथ में सुख सर्वदा बना रहता है' (भजन 16:11)। जब मित्र एवं बन्‍धु हमें त्‍याग देते है, तभी भी हम जानते है कि वह हमारे संग रहता है। जब परिस्थितियां विपरीत हो जाती है तब भी वह हमारे साथ रहता है। वचन यह भी कहता है कि जो हमें छूता है उसकी आंखों की पुतली को छूता है। तो फिर हमें किस बात का डर। संसार के विभिन्‍न महान परेशानियों में दो महान समस्‍याएं आज अकेलापन एवं उबाउपन है। इसमें कोई संदेह नहीं कि इनहे दूर करने के प्रयास में मनुष्‍य असंगत परिस्थ्‍िातियों में अपने आप को फसा लेता है। इस कारण से जीवन भी अनर्थ, आशा‍रहित, अननुमेय, एवं अशांत सा हो जाता है। परंतु जिस प्रकार संत अगस्‍तीन ने कहा था, जब हम ईशवर के पास आते है तो यह बेचैन दिल चैन पा लेता है। परमेश्‍वर कहता है कि 'परमेश्वर के निकट आओ, तो वह भी तुम्हारे निकट आएगा' (याकूब 4:8)। यद्यपि वह हम में से किसी से भी दूर नही (प्ररित 17:27) फिर भी यह सहभागिता हमारे सहभागिता के बिना सम्‍भव नहीं हो सकता। उसके निकट बने रहें और भय और चिंता का ह्रास हो जाएगा। आज हम भजनकार आसाफ के साथ यह कहने पायें: 'परमेश्वर के समीप रहना, यही मेरे लिथे भला है' (भजन 73:28)।

3.  उसके प्रतिज्ञाओं का आश्‍वासन। परमेश्‍वर की उपस्थिति एवं सहायता की प्रतिज्ञाएं हमें दृढ़ आशा प्रदान करती है। हम इस नए वर्ष में इन प्रतिज्ञाओं को लेते हुए बडे हर्ष एवं अपेक्षा के साथ प्रवेश करें क्‍योंकि परमेश्‍वर हमारे जीवन में अपनी भलाई एवं पराक्रम को बहुतायत से प्रगट करेगा। हम वचन के अनुसार परमेश्‍वर के भुजबल पर आशा रखने वाले हो जाएं (यशायह 51:5)। इस संसार में जीते हुए हम कई अभक्‍त एवं अधर्मी बातों का सामना करते है, परन्‍तु परमेश्‍वर ने 'बहुमूल्य और बहुत ही बड़ी प्रतिज्ञाएं दी हैं: ताकि इन के द्वारा तुम उस सड़ाहट से छूटकर जो संसार में बुरी अभिलाषाओं से होती है, ईश्वरीय स्‍वभाव के समभागी हो जाओ' (2पतरस 1:4)। क्‍या कोई जवान इस बात से भयभीत है कि वह इस वर्ष प्रभु में स्थिर रह पायेगा या नही, तो आप परमेश्‍वर के प्रतिज्ञाओं को अपने सीने से लगाकर ऐलान कर दें कि आप अपना चाल चलन को शुद्ध रख पायेंगे क्‍योकि आप परमेश्‍वर के वचन से सावधानी का पाठ लेते है (भजन 119: 9)। जब आप विभिन्‍न प्रकार के परीक्षाओं में अपने आप को पाते है तो स्‍मरण रखें कि परमेश्‍वर आप के लिए एक निकलने का मार्ग भी बनाता है ताकि आप अंत तक धीरज रखें (1कुरूत्थियों 10:13)। परमेश्‍वर ने लिखित वचन में हमें बुद्धि, भरपूरी, जय, सहायता, एवं शांति का वायदा किया है। आये इस नए वर्ष में हम उनहें प्राप्‍त करने की चेषटा के साथ प्रवेश करें। और परमेश्‍वर की इच्‍छा को  स्‍मरण रखें: 'हम बहुत चाहते हैं, कि तुम में से हर एक जन अन्‍त तक पूरी आशा के लिथे ऐसा ही प्रयत्‍न करता रहे। ताकि तुम आलसी न हो जाओ? बरन उन का अनुकरण करो, जो विश्वास और धीरज के द्वारा प्रतिज्ञाओं के वारिस होते हैं' (इब्रानियों 6:11,12)। इसलिए आइए हम विश्‍वास एवं धीरज से कमर कस कर बडे उम्‍मीद और आश्‍वासन के साथ इस नए वर्ष में प्रवेश करें। यदी कोई सोचता है कि ऐसे अनुभव केवल बाईबल के समयों में ही संभव थे, तो याद रखे कि वचन हमे फिर स्‍मरण दिलाता है कि यीशु मसीह कल, आज, और युगानुयुग एक सा है। जैसा वह नबदल है, वैसे ही उसकी प्रतिज्ञाएं भी चिरस्‍थायी है।

4.  उसकी सुरक्षा की सांत्‍वना। आज के संसार में सुरक्षिता के कई उपाय है जो इंजीनियरिंग के तकनीकों एवं औषधि विज्ञान के कक्ष से चल कर आर्थिक संरक्षण की दुनिया तक विद्यमान है। लेकिन चाहे इं‍जीनियर आपके मकान को, आपके गाडी को, रोज के यातायात वाहनों को, या अन्‍य यंत्रों को कितना ही सुरक्षित क्‍यों न कर दें; या आप बीमा इत्‍यादी द्वारा भविष्‍य को सुरक्षित करने का कितना भी प्रयास कर लें; फिर भी यदी परमेश्‍वर की सुरक्षा का कवछ हमे न घेरे तो ये सारी बाते व्‍यर्थ ही है। भजन 3,4, एवं 5 अध्‍यायों के अंतिम पदों को स्‍मरण रखें। वे कहते है:

'उद्धार यहोवा ही की ओर से होता है' (भजन 3:8)
'मैं शान्ति से लेट जाऊंगा और सो जाऊंगा? क्योंकि, हे यहोवा, केवल तू ही मुझ को एकान्त में निश्चिन्त रहने देता है।' (भजन 4:8)
'तू धर्मी को आशिष देगा। हे यहोवा, तू उसको अपके अनुग्रहरूपी ढाल से घेरे रहेगा।' (भजन 5:12)

परमेश्‍वर का अनुग्रह हमारी ऐसा ढ़ाल है जिसे संसार की कोई भी शक्ति भेद नही सकती। इस कारण से भजनकार कहता है कि वह शात्ति से लेट कर सो जाएगा क्‍योंकि यहोवा ही उसे एकान्‍त में निश्चिन्‍त रहने देता है। वचन कहता है कि 'परमेश्वर ने हमें भय की नहीं पर सामर्य, और प्रेम, और संयम की आत्मा दी है' (2तिमोथियुस 1:7)।
परमेश्‍वर के लोगों के जीवन में असंगत भय होने की आवश्‍यक्‍ता नहीं क्‍योंकि उनका जीवन परमेश्‍वर ही के हाथ में है और उसके मर्जी के बगैर हमारे सिर का एक भी बाल बांका नही हो सकता (लूका 21:18)। क्‍या कोई भी संसार की कम्‍पनी हमें इतने सुरक्षा का कवरेज दे सकती है। लेकिन इसका मतलब यह नहीं की हम मूर्खता एवं अहंकार का रूख अपना कर संगत भय को भी नजर अंदाज कर दें। उदाहरण के लिए, इसका मतलब ये नहीं होता कि आप आग में हाथ डाल कर अपनी निर्भयता को प्रदर्शित करने की कोशीश करें। याद रखें कि शैतान ने भी बाइबल के वचनों का गलत उपयोग कर यीशु मसीह को मंदिर पर से नीचे कूदने के लिए प्रोतसाहित करने कि कोशीश किया, परंतु प्रभु ने उसे यह कहते हुए सामना किया कि लिखा गया है कि तू अपने प्रभू परमेश्‍वर की परीक्षा न लेना। ईश्‍वरीय सुरक्षा अनुग्रहरूपी है, और अनुग्रह केवल उसी पर होता है जो नम्रता से प्रभु के नियमों का आ‍धीन हो (याकूब 4:6)।

सो आईये हम परमेश्‍वर के प्रबंधन की संतुष्टि, उसकी उपस्थिति की सहभागिता, उसके प्रतिज्ञाओं का आश्‍वासन, एवं उसकी सुरक्षा की सांत्‍वना के साथ इस नव वर्ष में निर्भयता के साथ प्रवेश करें। प्रभु आपको आशीष दें।

© डॉ. मैथ्‍यू के. थॉमस, 2010, इटारसी.

The Meaning of Doubt in Epistemology

© Domenic Marbaniang, Epistemics of Divine Reality (2007).

DOUBT is the frustration of rationality. It is not the threshold of knowledge. It is the exit-door of knowledge. Doubt precludes knowability by assuming the attitude of will-to-doubt. The will-to-doubt leads in a different direction from that of the will-to-believe. For instance, the problem of pain, of evil and disorder in the universe may be confronted with either a will-to-doubt leading to despair or a will-to-believe leading to hope.[1]
Hindu devotee: It is difficult to express. The dumb cannot tell the taste of a laddu [sweetmeat]. Religion is my isht [my choice]. I believe in faith. A son was born to me, and when he died I did not feel the least sorrow for him. That was due to my faith.[2]
According to James W. Fowler, the opposite of faith is not doubt but nihilism, ‘the inability to image any transcendent environment and despair about the possibility of even negative meaning.’[3] But this is a confusion of meanings. Nihilism is the result of perpetual doubting even as optimism is the result of a dogged faith. Thus, doubt is the opposite of faith.
However, the will-to-doubt can have a positive result when set in balance with the will-to-believe. In that sense, the exit from one leads to the entrance into another. Thus, the will-to-doubt the supremacy of Inti, the sun-god, and the will-to-believe the traditional God Viracocha, corroborated by reasoning, helped Pachacuti to shift his faith from Inti to Viracocha.[4] Thus, unless there is a balance between the two, extreme results will follow. A will-to-believe not corroborated by a will-to-doubt can lead to fanaticism, fundamentalism, and thus, lead to unchecked fideism. However, when corroborated by a will-to-doubt, it can lead to rational belief. The will-to-believe must not take precedence over the will-to-doubt; likewise, the will-to-doubt must not take precedence over the will-to-believe. It is the role of reason to govern both in balance and harmony.

[1] Ralph Tyler Flewelling, Christ and the Dramas of Doubt (New York: Eatons & Mains, 1913), pp. 6-9
[2] E. Stanley Jones, Christ at the Round Table (New York: Abingdon Press, 1928), p. 31
[3] James W. Fowler, Stages of Faith (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1981), p. 31
[4] Don Richardson, Eternity in their Hearts, rev. edn. (California: Regal Books, 1984), pp. 37-38

Is God a Working Hypothesis? The Problem With Pragmatism

© Domenic Marbaniang, Epistemics of Divine Reality (2007).

CHARLES S. PEIRCE (1893-1914) coined the term ‘pragmatism’ from the Greek word pragma (meaning act or deed)[1] for the philosophical position that defined truth in terms of workability. According to pragmatism, the test of the truth of any proposition is its utility. William James defined pragmatism as ‘the attitude of looking away from first things, principles, ‘categories,’ supposed necessities; and of looking towards last things, fruits, consequences, facts.’[2] According to the pragmatist view, ‘reality is hardly a single thing: It is pluralistic.’[3] The only thing that matters, therefore, is not what ultimate reality is but what is ultimately useful. Thus, the end decides the validity of the means. In this sense then, it is not important whether God exists or not. The only thing that matters is whether belief in God’s existence is useful or not. Following are certain characteristics of truth as understood in pragmatism:[4]

  1. Truth is man-made. According to William James, truth is an adjective of knowledge that works in life. Truth is the result of human evaluation. Just as a thing is called heavy or light, long or short, to express the effects of human measurements similarly knowledge or belief is called true or false to express the effect of human valuation of it. By itself it would neither be true or false. Truth is made just as health, wealth and strength are made in the course of experience. Thus, truth is human engineered and not absolute.

  2. Truth is mutable. Truths are bound to be particular, relative, and therefore subject to change. The truth of any proposition depends on the context. For instance, the theories of Ptolemy were true to those of his context; but now, appear false. Thus, truths are neither absolute nor permanent. According to John Dewey, there can be no eternal and necessary truth.

  3. Truth is synonymous with utility. According to James, one can say of something that ‘it is useful because it is true’ or that ‘it is true because it is useful.’ Both these uses mean exactly the same thing, namely that here is an idea that gets fulfilled and can be verified.

  4. There are degrees of truth, according to James, depending on its degree of utility in one’s life. Truth is true in a degree proportionate to its level of use in one’s life. Thus, useless truths are no truths.

  5. Truth is only one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good. To say, for instance, that a fan is good is to say that it is fulfilling its functions properly; in other words, it is useful. In the same way, to say that a proposition is true means to say that it is useful or good.

  6. According to John Dewey, truth is warranted assertability. That is, any claim can only be true if its assertion is warranted by successful and practical results. Thus, any assertion can only be true if it is useful in scientific expedition or discovery.

The implication for religious knowledge is that religious knowledge cannot be segregated from its utility. In other words, the truthfulness of religious claims depends on whether they are useful or not. Obviously, pragmatists find that some religious beliefs like the belief in God and life after death are useful. For, they not only provide internal peace but add meaning to all the actions of life. According to William James, ‘since belief is measure by action, he who forbids us to believe religion to be true necessarily also forbids us to act as we should if we did believe it to be true.’ Consequently, ‘the whole defense of religious faith hinges upon action.’[5] Thus, whether one believes in God or didn’t believe in God is an important question since the answer decides one’s walk of life and, obviously, its consequences for self and society.

However, critics have pointed out that the pragmatist acceptance of religious belief in God, immortality, etc. on the grounds of the criterion of utility is engrossed with so many problems. First of all, pragmatists do not offer any serious philosophical argument for the belief in the existence of God apart from the usefulness of the belief. Such delinquency in reasoning cannot be considered to be appropriate when belief in God is of such nature that a person’s whole way of living and perhaps even the afterlife may be at stake. Secondly, the law of utility, apart from proving whether a particular belief has presently some use or not, can prove nothing about the truthfulness or falsity of a claim. Thirdly, it has been argued that religion may not be indispensable to good conduct. However, this view is yet to prove true by means of ‘empirical investigation’ which is not within the purview of philosophy.[6] Further, there is a great possibility that any of the religious views, often contradictory to each other, may be proved to be useful. But since contradictions entail that either one or none of them is true, usefulness cannot stand as a standard test for truth. Finally, the pragmatist treatment of God as a means to some end is not in keeping with the spirit of religion.[7] Religion claims that it has the treasure of eternal truths, but pragmatism approaches it with not an interest towards such truths but with the interest of getting something out of it. This disinterest with truth is against the spirit of philosophy. This is what Russell had to say regarding the utility approach towards religion:
I can respect the men who argue that religion is true and therefore ought to be believed, but I can feel only profound reprobation for those who say that religion ought to be believed because it is useful, and that to ask whether it is true is a waste of time.[8]

Thus, though accepting the usefulness of the concept of God, the pragmatist is not able to establish with certainty the existence of God and His attributes. In fact, since to the pragmatist eternal and necessary truth doesn’t exist, therefore the concept of an existent God is of little consequence unless affecting the prospect of life. Some Christians have found the pragmatic test for truth highly appealing in an apologetic of their faith.[9] However, livability of some religious proposition alone may not validate its veracity. If that were true then the survival of polytheistic, atheistic, pantheistic, monistic, and monotheistic religions even to this present generation is evidence enough that the adherents of each of the religions find their own religions quite livable with and thus, pragmatically useful. However, it is certain that not all of them can be true at the same time since their tenets contradict each other. Therefore, the pragmatist approach cannot be accepted as tenable in the epistemics of divine reality.

[1] Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre, p.412
[2] As cited by Velasquez, Philosophy, p. 223
[3] Ibid, p. 223
[4] Hridaynarayan Mishra, Paschatya Darshan, pp. 155-158
[5] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, p. 108
[6] John Hospers, Philosophical Analysis, p. 448
[7] Hridaynarayan Mishra, Paschatya Darshan, p. 169
[8] As cited by John Hospers, Philosophical Analysis, p. 449
[9] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, p. 110

Marks of a Successful Minister (2 Timothy)

The Example of Paul. A Man of God; A Man of...

1. Clear Mission (1:1)
2. Pure Conscience (1:2)
3. Unceasing Prayers (1:3)
4. Selfless Love - Rejoices in the Good of Others: Encourager (1:4)
5. Proactive Lifestyle, Motivator (1:6-8)
6. Suffering for the Gospel (1:8)
7. Faith in Divine Sovereignty - Grace & Calling (1:9)
8. Faithful Communication (2:1-2)
9. Diligence in Study (2:15)
10. Excellence in Art of Ministry (2:15)
11. Care Regarding Doctrine and Lifestyle (2:16) - Avoids Worldly Wisdom and Vanity
12. Godly Pursuit (2:22)
13. Humility and Gentleness (2:24)
14. Understanding Regarding Times and Age (3:1-9)
15. Depth in Scripture (3:15-17).
16. Readiness to Preach the Word (4:2)

Studies in Ezekiel: Eat This Scroll (Ezekiel 3)

"Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He cause me to eat that scroll." (Eze. 3:1,2).

By this the Lord qualified Ezekiel for the prophetic ministry.

1. Apprehension: The servant of God must fully apprehend the meaning of the message he preaches. If he's not clear about the message, then neither can he communicate it to others. The Lord tells Ezekiel to feed his belly and fill his stomach with the scroll (v.3). It's only after Ezekiel has eaten it and known its taste to be as sweet as honey, that he's able to stand boldly and proclaim what he knows about what God means to say.
2. Assimilation: The word became internal to the servant. The word and the servant became one. Only when the word is mixed with faith will the result be divine perspective and divine fulfillment (Heb. 4:1,2). Therefore, God commands Ezekiel his prophet saying, "Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears" (Eze.3:10). Similarly, Jesus said to His disciples, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). This assimilation of God's word occurs when we take God at His word without any circumvention.
3. Articulation: Ezekiel's clear, straightforward, and fearless proclamation of God's word is possible only because the word now defines the mission and expression of who he is. He is God's servant and God's prophet and the totality of his existence is defined in the relentless and front-line articulation of the divine message. The articulation needs to be
(a) Verbal (v.4). It consists of words.
(b) Personal (v5). It concerns people as persons.
(c) Public (v5). It concerns a message that is religious, but social and political as well.
(d) Relentless (v6). The proclamation will not be affected in either intensity or verity despite the indifference or hostility of the audience.
(e) Testimonial (v7). The proclamation is a call to repentance, but is not oriented to it. It is merely a testimony of divine Truth.
(f) Powerful (v8). The testimony is stronger than the strength of worldly wisdom, vice, and violence. It looks in the eyes because it is pure.
(g) Fearless (v9). The proclamation is bold, courageous, and advancing. It doesn't stop anywhere nor can be limited byour  any bonds or chains.

Prayer: Lord, grant your laborers the clarity of your vision, the strength of your soul, the passion of your heart, and the boldness of your Spirit to live out and preach the truth that you've given us to assimilate, apprehend, and articulate. The Lord's Name be blessed forever. Amen!


Col. 4:12-16

Aspire, Acquire, Attire! (Col. 4:12-16)

Download Outline of Theology Book


An Overview of Theology by Domenic Marbaniang

Bibliology (Bible)
Theology Proper
Christology (Jesus Christ)
Pneumatology (Holy Spirit)
Angelology (Angels)
Demonology (Demons)
Anthropology (Man)
Soteriology (Salvation)
Ecclesiology (Church)
Eschatology (LastThings)

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If I Love You Less, Then How Can I Call You Lord!

If I love You less,
Then how can I call You "Lord"!
If I love You less,
Then how can I say "I'm not lost"!
If I love You less,
Then what I'm supposed to be
After all You've done for me
If I love You less.

Did You love me less
That you gave Yourself for me?
Did You love me less
That You bore my pain for me?
Did You love me less
That You proved You cared for me?
You came to set me free!
No, You didn't love me less.
I can never ask You to love me more
It's Your love that really makes me whole
The love that's best
Can I love You less,
You're my eternity!
Can I love You less,
You paid the price for me!
Can I love You less,
For all that's mine is Yours,
You won me through the cross.
How can I love You less!



How quickly do the cycles run,
Summer, rainy, winter, return.
But life is not a cycle -
If it were, we could always mend our yesterday.
Yet, one awaits the future to somehow mend his today.
How weird such futile hopes deceive us into wrong each day.

How long will it be before
The truth vanquishes all vanity.
But man is a vapor -
Yet, all that he needs is a bit of heaven's fire.
A coal from the altar, or else life slips down into hellish mire.
How meaningless to reject what is fact to make room for feelings.
Lord, sanctify! Sanctify.......!!!

The Apologetic Task and the Nature of Beliefs

by Domenic Marbaniang

1. CLARIFICATION. Define terms. Clarify misunderstandings, doubts, meaning.
2. JUSTIFICATION. Defend terms. Justify belief with appropriate reasons.

* The point of focus is truth-statements; not religious identity, but beliefs.

1. SYSTEMIC. The statement "Killing is wrong" is connected with other statements within a system. In Humanism, for instance, the rationale is "Everyone has a right to life", "Human life is precious" etc. In Buddhism, the rationale would be "Ahimsa is the greatest rule", "Desire is the cause of suffering", etc.
2. SIMPLE. Beliefs are simple; therefore, basic. They can be stated in simple statements that are understandable.
3. SURE. Beliefs are held because the adherent is sure that what he holds to is true. Uncertainty cannot be the quality of beliefs. It is the quality of doubt.

The Morning Moon

Awaiting the awaking of the daystar on the other end
The night keeps its radiance still glowing through the morn
It stands still over the horizon, over the expanse of sky and sea
Gently, quietly, beaming in fullest vigor
Your night may be long, but nights do end
Your moon keeps the watch through the night
And still remains when the dawn begins.

Poem(c) Domenic Marbaniang, January 2010.

Faith (Poem)

The heart of faith has no presumption,
It simply trusts His Word.
It stands secure, and in His Promise
Finds eternal worth.

The eyes of faith will never tire,
Though deeper gets the night;
They hope ignited by the fire
Of God’s Eternal Light.

The dreams of faith are dreams of glory;
Not earthly name or fame.
A child may write another history,
If he’s of God ne’er ashamed.

Faith will worship God forever;
For faith alone, in truth, sees Him.
Faith is an unceasing river
Of praise and worship to the King.

Faith listens and faith obeys,
Faith moves on and never stays,
Faith is strong and faith grows stronger
And never falters in His ways.

Faith offers its all to God
Not a thing to itself left;
For faith’s true rest and meaning
Are in the bosom of His chest.

(c) Domenic Marbaniang, Explorations of Faith, 2008



Domenic Marbaniang

The Pentecostal Movement is one of the largest movements within Christianity. Since its beginning in 1901, it has grown to become one of the largest religious groups in the world. By the year 2000, the Pentecostal/Charismatic constituency is considered to have accounted for 8.7 percent of the world’s population, larger than the percentage of all Buddhists, and made up 26.7 percent of all Christendom.[1] This movement has also been called as the “Third Force” and the harbinger of “a revolution comparable in importance with the establishment of the original church and with the Protestant Reformation.”[2] Surprisingly not, this movement was looked at as heretic and fanatical in its incipient period. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1906:

Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles. Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, near San Pedro Street, and the devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal.[3]

However, as Edward Caldwell Moore noted “The heresy of one generation is the orthodoxy of the next,”[4] Pentecostalism is no longer looked upon as a fanatical sect to beware of; but, it certainly has made its impact felt on Christian groups all over the world.

What is Pentecostalism?

Pentecostalism is a movement that centers around the belief of the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit with all the giftings within the Church as was present in the Apostolic period beginning with the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The distinguishing belief is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience following salvation and is evidenced by the gift of Speaking in Tongues. The two main groups related to Pentecostals are the Charismatics and the Third Wave. While the Pentecostals emphasize on the baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as evidence, the newer Third Wave movement “stresses “signs and wonders” and gifts such as prophecy and healing, primarily through independent churches and organizations that emerged in the 1980s.”[5] Pentecostals were ostracized by mainline liberals and even evangelicals until 1942; thus, they formed their own denominations[6] like the Church of God and the Assemblies of God churches along with innumerous smaller denominations and independent churches all over the world.


L. Grant McClung, Jr. enumerates one feature of the Pentecostal Movement as being “Leaderless leadership,”[7] which refers to the fact that “no main personality can be said to be the originator of the movement.”[8] He quotes Donald Gee:

…one highly significant feature of the Movement that distinguished it in a striking way from most of those that have gone before. The Pentecostal Movement does not owe its origin to any outstanding personality or religious leader, but was a spontaneous revival appearing almost simultaneously in various parts of the world. We instinctively connect the Reformation with Luther, the Quakers with George Fox, Methodism with Wesley, the Plymouth Brethren with Darby and Graves, the Salvation Army with William Booth, and so on. But the outstanding leaders of the Pentecostal Movement are themselves the product of the Movement. They did not make it; it made them.[9]

Roberts Liardon, however, in his book God’s Generals, calls Charles Fox Parham “The Father of Pentecost.”[10] During the Watch Night Service of December 31, 1900, one of the students, Agnes Ozman, at his Bible school in Topeka approached Parham and asked him to lay his hands on her so she would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Earlier on, Parham had given an assignment to his students requiring them to study the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. The students had turned in with the general conclusion that “Every recipient baptized by the Holy Spirit spoke in other tongues.” So, when Agnes Ozman approached him, Parham hesitated at first telling her that he himself didn’t speak in other tongues; but, when she persisted, he humbly laid his hands on her head and she immediately was filled with the Spirit and began to speak in the Chinese language. Parham reported that she “was unable to speak English for three days.”[11] Later on, Parham himself received the blessing and began preaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. It was through the preaching ministry of Parham, his Bible schools, and his books that Pentecostalism began to find its theological basis. Liardon observes that “though some spoke in tongues long before Topeka, Kansas, it was Parham who pioneered the truth of tongues as the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”[12]

The Pentecostal fire from Topeka spread to various places before it blazed into explosive radiance at Azusa Street. The Apostolic Faith magazine of September 1906, published from the Azusa Street Mission by William J. Seymour, the leader of the famous Azusa Street Revival, and Florence L. Crawford, reported:
This work began about five years ago last January, when a company of people under the leadership of Charles Parham who were studying God’s word, tarried for Pentecost in Topeka, Kansas….
Now after five years something like 13,000 people have received this gospel….
The meetings in Los Angeles started in a cottage meeting, and the Pentecost fell there three nights. The people had nothing to do but wait on the Lord and praise Him, and they commenced speaking in tongues, as they did at Pentecost, and the Spirit sang songs through them.
The meeting was then transferred to Azusa Street, and since then multitudes have been coming. The meetings begin about ten o’clock in the morning and can hardly stop before ten or twelve at night, and sometimes two or three in the morning, because so many are seeking, and some are slain under the power of God…. We cannot tell how many people have been saved, and sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and healed of all manner of sicknesses. Many are speaking in new tongues, and some are on their way to the foreign fields, with the gift of the language.[13]
From these early experiences, Pentecostalism caught momentum and rapidly spread enveloping the whole world in its fire in the next few decades.

Pentecostal Fire in Calcutta
During the Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles in 1906, Alfred Garr, pastor of a Burning Bush congregation in Los Angeles, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in Bengali – a language he did not know. Following this experience, and recognizing a call to serve in India, he along with his wife, Lilian, came to Calcutta. After arriving in Calcutta, the Garrs found an open door at when Pastor Hook invited Garr to conduct services at his Bow Bazar Baptist Church. Soon, the Pentecostal fire sparked into flames on this other side of the world, some 8,000 miles from the Azusa Street Mission.[14] Some of the leaders in India touched by this fire were Miss Susan Easton, head of the American Women’s Board of Missions and Fanny Simpson, a Methodist missionary from Boston. During the same time, Rai Bahadur Chandra, a Brahmin convert, heard of the Spirit’s outpouring at the meetings conducted by the Garrs and Miss Simpson. On a trip to England, the Chandras came in contact with Elim Pentecostals and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. On returning to India they constructed a small chapel and residence next door to their house in Baniapuker where the Elim missionaries began conducting English and Bengali services. Later, this work was transferred to the American Assemblies of God.

To the Ends of the Earth
Gary McGee[15] points out three different groups of missionaries who went overseas as a result of the Spirit’s outpouring.

(1)    The first group represented those who received the call, but left for their mission fields without sufficient resources and training. As a result of this, the overall impact of such work appears to have been short-lived and disappointing. The missionaries soon realized that they definitely needed to learn the local language and culture and needed financial support in addition to long-term strategy for development of indigenous churches.

(2)    The second group consisted of those who were newly Spirit-filled veterans of other missionary agencies. These were missionaries like Miss Susan Easton of the American Women’s Board of Missions in India and William W. Simpson of the Christian and Missionary Alliance who contributed greatly towards the establishment and development of Pentecostal missions, especially the development of Bible institutes for the training of ministers in keeping with the Spirit of Pentecost.

(3)    These institutions prepared a third group of missionaries: men and women who had received Bible institute education in preparation for overseas missions. They were people like Marguerite Flint (India), Eric Booth-Clibbourn (Africa), John Burgess (India), Margaret Felch (India), Grace Walther (India), Ralph Riggs (Africa), and Edgar Pettenger (Africa). The Assemblies of God Bible colleges played an important role in training such personnel for missions.

Pentecostalism also spread strongly through the ministries of evangelists and preachers such as John G. Lake, Aimee Semple McPherson, Smith Wigglesworth, William Branham, A.A. Allen, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Oral Roberts. Thus, Pentecostalism took missionary leaps and spread into the whole world.
Several Pentecostal denominations and fellowships have arisen in the past century. In India, the Indian Pentecostal Church, founded by K. E. Abraham in 1939[16] and the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches of God in India, founded by Kurien Thomas in 1966, are examples of indigenous Pentecostal groups. In recent times, the New Life Churches under the leadership of Pastor Joseph in Mumbai and various other places have seen immense growth. There are also myriads of independent Pentecostal churches that continue to rise as the Pentecostal outpouring continues and spreads through out the land. In the global scene, the ministries of people like Benny Hinn, Reinhard Bonnke, Joyce Meyer, and television channels such as the continue to spread the Pentecostal fire across people groups all over the world.

Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries, 3rd edn., Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
Hamilton, Michael P. (ed.). The Charismatic Movement, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975.
Kelsey, Morton T. Tongue Speaking: An Experiment in Spiritual Experience, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964.
Liardon, Roberts. God’s Generals, Tulsa: Albury Publishing, 1996.
Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn. God the Holy Spirit, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1997.
McClung, Jr., L. Grant. Azusa Street and Beyond, NJ: Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1986.
Moore, Edward Caldwell. An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912.
Pirouet, Louise. Christianity Worldwide, Delhi: ISPCK, 1996, 4th edn.
Robinson, James. Pentecostal Origins, UK: Paternoster, 2005.
Rodman, William J. The Era of the Spirit, New Jersey: Logos International, 1971.
Synan, Vinson (ed.). Aspects of Pentecostal- Charismatic Origins, NJ: Logos International, 1975.
Synan, Vinson. The Century of the Holy Spirit, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001.

[1] James Robinson, Pentecostal Origins (UK: Paternoster, 2005), p.xxi.
[2] Henry P. Van Dusen, as quoted by Robinson, Ibid, p.xxi.
[3] As cited by L. Grant McClung, Jr., Azusa Street and Beyond (NJ: Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1986), p. 3.
[4] Edward Caldwell Moore, An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912).
[5] Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, 3rd edn. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p. 489.
[6] Ibid, p. 490.
[7] Ibid, p.4.
[8] Ibid, p.4.
[9] Ibid, p.4.
[10] Roberts Liardon, God’s Generals (Tulsa: Albury Publishing, 1996), p.109.
[11] As cited by Liardon, Ibid, p. 119.
[12] Ibid, p. 155.
[13] L. Grant McClung, Jr. (ed.), Azusa Street and Beyond, p. 24.
[14] Maynard Ketcham and Wayne Warner, “When the Pentecostal Fire Fell in Calcutta,” Ibid, p. 28
[15] “Early Pentecostal Missionaries – They Went Everywhere Preaching the Gospel,” Ibid, pp. 33-36.

(c) Domenic Marbaniang, January 2010.


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