A Dialogue on Trinity

The Characters

Clark– Pastor
Madeleine– His daughter

It was a wintry evening, around 9 O’clock, and Rev. Clark was busy in his Study preparing for the Sunday Service, when Madeleine, his daughter of age 13, came to him and broke in “Dad, I wanted to ask something.”

Clark [turning around at her]: What is it, my dear?


Madeleine: Doesn’t God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit make three gods? [Then, pointing to a picture on the wall] God is that old Father, Jesus is the Son, and that dove is the Holy Spirit. They also look so different from each other.

Clark: This picture is just a painting. Somebody imagined it that way. There are not three gods. Only one God, and…

Madeleine: But, you said that Jesus is God, and also the Holy Spirit?

Clark: Yes, that’s right.

Madeleine: Then, there are three gods.

Clark: No, there is only one God. It’s not very easy to understand how, but there’s only one God.

Madeleine: How can that be, dad?

Clark: Well, it’s difficult to understand how, but the Bible teaches that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and that these are three; but, yet, there is only one God.

Madeleine: And, who is that one God, dad?

Clark: God the Father is that God. Jesus is that God. The Holy Spirit is that God.

Madeleine: Oh, you mean God is like Spider-man. He is both Peter Parker and Spider-man at the same time.

Clark: Well, perhaps; but, I don’t think so. Peter Parker and Spider-man is the same person, but the Father is a different person, Jesus is a different person, and the Holy Spirit is a different person.

Madeleine: You confuse me, dad.

Clark: God is not one person like we humans are; He is three-persons.

Madeleine: Okay, you mean He is like Brahma who got four heads, four hands, but two feet.

Clark: Why do you think so?

Madeleine: I thought there are as many persons as there are heads to count.

Clark: Why, you can have two or three hard disks or processors in a computer, but it’s still one.

Madeleine: But, a computer is not a person, and the various disks and processors are just parts.

Clark: So, the head could also just be a part.

Madeleine: Well, if each of the processors had consciousness, then the computer made up of two processors would not be one person, but still it would be one computer.

Clark: I don’t think so. The two processors would merely be two thinking units of one person, like we have a tussle between the good and evil, reasoning and feeling, within us.

Madeleine: Well, the two thinking units would not be against each other but would operate seamlessly. But, I think you may be right. Still, there are two thinkers already there.

Clark: For that to be possible, each unit will need to have a separate will of its own.

Madeleine: Granted.

Clark: But, yet the units are just parts of a whole, the computer, while, God is not made up three different parts: each Person is fully God.

Madeleine: It’s not necessary to think of them as only parts. Granted each possesses consciousness, each will distinctly be conscious of being the computer.

Clark: So, there will be three consciousnesses but, seamlessly, one computer.

Madeleine: Yes.

Clark: I’m a bit afraid of this analogy, though it, at least, makes some sense. However, God is Spirit and we can’t talk of Him in the way we talk of a human body or a machine.

to be continued…
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Charvaka, Lokayata, the Materialist, and Secularist

© Domenic Marbaniang, Secularism in India, Google Books, 2005.

The Indian school of materialism, Charvaka, perhaps developed as a reaction against the excesses of Brahmin priests and an exploitative society. It dismissed ‘necessarily all belief in everything that constitutes the specific subject-matter of religion and philosophy.’ It had place for neither God who controls the universe nor conscience that guides man. The absence of the transcendent in Charvaka might be reason for its also being called as Lokayata-darsana, meaning philosophical school ‘restricted to the experienced world,’ or ‘secular.’ The Charvaka had no regard for the Shabda Pramana (Verbal Testimony, i.e., the Vedas). It had a purely empirical and rational concept of reality. However, the Charvaka could not gain political approval and so gradually declined – although its hedonism vented out through popular polytheism. Charvaka philosophy could not continue also because of the powerful dominance of Brahmanism over religion, culture, society, and politics. To Brahmanism, the Veda was supreme authority. The notion of a separation of faith and reason, therefore, was inadmissible. Reason (yukti) was subservient to the faith (in the revealed word, Shabda, Shruti) and not above it. In fact, true knowledge could not be rationally attained. Truth was mystical and available for only the privileged few, i.e., the Brahmins. The Charvaka, along with the Buddhists and the Jains were labelled nastiks or unbelievers and isolated from the mainstream. Brahmanism also sustained itself by preventing the other caste members from being educated. This it did by its restrictive use of the Sanskrit language and by its maintaining that higher knowledge was unattainable by the other castes. It also divided religion into two storeys: the upper was non-dualistic and attainable by the higher caste members alone; the lower was polytheistic and the popular form of Hindu religion. The higher was considered the Real and the lower the lesser real dominated by myths and phenomena. Brahmanism held both the storeys together by claiming Vedic authority. The Charvaka secular ideology was, in comparison, to Brahmanism, a lower world-view caught up with the present world and far-removed from the true Reality that the Upanishads declared. Thus, Charvaka gradually diminished before the mounting influence of Brahmanism. Nevertheless, it suffices to state that the secular outlook that cast off all religious restraints and considered the human reason capable enough to know truth was not new for the Indian context.

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Vijaya Ghosh (ed.), Tirtha (New Delhi: CMC LTD., 1992)
M. Hiriyanna, Indian Philosophy (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000)
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Nehru's Secularism and the Shaping of Modern India

Jawaharlal Nehru, circa 1927

© Domenic Marbaniang, Indian Secularism (2005)

To an atheist, religion represents superstition, primitive fear, and suppression. Such blind faith is antithetical to the rational and scientific character of secularism. While religion looks beyond the world, secularism looks within the world for answers. Nehru who represented this atheistic form of secularism wrote:
‘India is supposed to be a religious country above everything else.. The spectacle of what is called religion or at any rate organised religion in India and elsewhere has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition and exploitation, and preservation and exploitation of vested interests.’ 
Nehru’s aversion towards religion is well known. He is said to have ‘always grimaced painfully whenever he had to go through even the most perfunctory religious observance.’ He once even angrily waved away a Hindu sadhu who tried to anoint him with holy water at a dam dedication. During the Independence Struggle, it was Nehru, Jinnah, and Subhash Chandra Bose who maintained that it was wrong for religion to interfere in politics. From 1920 onwards, Nehru’s view that all human enterprise should be delivered from religious dominance became more apparent. As an agnostic, he believed in rationality, secularism, and a scientific approach as the true means of progress in India. He understood that the destruction of religious superstition by secularism was the only means to a peaceful India. In a country divided by religious differences, of fundamental nature, Nehru looked at secularism as a great cementing force of the diverse people of India. Secularism had to displace the religious outlook if people of India were to live and grow together in unity and fraternity.

Nehru represented the Western form of secularism very well. While Gandhi stressed on the equality of all religions and religious pluralism, Nehru was more inclined towards the modernity of the Enlightenment. In fact, Kazi Anwarul Masud considers him to be the first in India to have accepted Western secularism. He writes:
‘While Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Azad spoke of secularism from the perspective of religion, Pandit Nehru was the first in the sub-continent to accept the western concept of secularism.’ 
When he became the Prime Minister of Independent India, he confessed that it had been extremely difficult for him as a Prime Minister to build a secular State out of a religion-dominated nation. It was the able leadership of a secular visionary such as Nehru that held India together through out the early turbulent years of the country. In a country where the population in majority was Hindu (one reason behind the Muslim League’s skepticism regarding the possibility of true secularism in India), it was the secular vision of Nehru that helped him maintain the ‘rule of law’ in a democracy which was continually in danger of falling into the ‘rule of people.’ India, therefore, owes a lot to Nehru for the development of a form of secularism in India that was Constitutional and not majoritarianist. To the chagrin of the Hindutvavadis, it is this form of secularism that makes possible for people of all religions to live together under legal protection and keeps any community in majority from violating the rights of the minority. Nehru’s agnosticism and rationalism had no place for religious dictates in political matters. Therefore, he was able to see religion with a scientific eye and keep religious fundamentalism from sabotaging Indian politics.

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Kazi Anwarul Masud, How fares secularism in India? The Daily Star
Harvey Cox, The Secular City, p. 76
Laxminidhi Sharma, Dharma Darshan ki Rooprekha, p. 434
Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, p. 12
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Gandhi's Views on Secularism

© Domenic Marbaniang, Indian Secularism (2005)

Most Hindus can see no problem in worshipping two deities at the same time. This polytheistic nature of popular Hinduism helps Hindus to be pluralist and open to other religions as well. Gandhi viewed secularism from a religious perspective. He believed that religion and the State are inseparable, that irreligiosity encouraged by the State leads to demoralization of the people and that, therefore, the State’s religious policy should be pluralistic with equal respect to all religions. Mahatma Gandhi believed that all deities were manifestations of the One and all religions led to the same goal. It was this kind of a pluralistic approach to religion that made him to oppose religious conversions.

Though claiming to be liberal, Gandhi opposed religious conversions, especially of the Untouchables, on arguments based on religious pluralism. This, however, caused a lot of agitation among the leaders of the Untouchable community. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was against this pluralistic perspective of Gandhi. He said that Gandhi opposed religious conversions for political reasons. In his Writings and Speeches, he wrote:
‘That Mr. Gandhi is guided by such factors as the relative strength of the Mussalmans and Christians, their relative importance in Indian politics, is evident….’
However, Gandhi said that his opposition to conversions, especially Christian conversions, originated from his own position that all religions were fundamentally equal and that equal respect, (Sarva-dharma-samabhava) not mutual tolerance, was the need of the hour. He also accused Christian Missions of using social services to net in converts. He argued that the Harijans had ‘no mind, no intelligence, no sense of difference between God and no-God’ and that they could no more distinguish between the relative merits than could a cow. Thus, the Gandhian pluralistic perspective of secularism disfavors conversions, especially among the Harijans for at least two reasons:

1. Since no religion can claim absolute truth and since all religions are fundamentally equal, conversions (or the use of the right to freedom of conscience) are out of question.
2. The secularism that provides freedom of religion to all people alike without considering their intellectual ability is unjust. Bluntly put, the Harijans do not qualify to exercise their right to freedom of religious conversion.

After going through all such arguments of Gandhi against religious conversions, Ambedkar concluded that they were all invalid arguments based on false premises. Following are the arguments that Ambedkar advanced:

Regarding the argument that all religions are fundamentally equal and, therefore, religious conversions unwanted
‘…If I have understood him correctly then his premise is utterly fallacious, both logically as well as historically. Assuming the aim of religion is to reach God – which I do not think it is – and religion is the road to reach him, it cannot be said that every road is sure to lead to God. Nor can it be said that every road, though it may ultimately lead to God, is the right road. It may be that (all existing religions are false and) the perfect religion is still to be revealed. But the fact is that religions are not all true and therefore the adherents of one faith have a right, indeed a duty, to tell their erring friends what they conceive to be the truth.’

Regarding the argument that the Untouchables were no better than a cow
‘That Untouchables are no better than a cow is a statement which only an ignoramus, or an arrogant person, can venture to make. It is arrant nonsense. Mr. Gandhi dares to make it because he has come to regard himself as so great a man that the ignorant masses will not question him in whatever he says.’

Regarding the argument that the Christian Missions were baiting native converts by means of social services
‘It is difficult to understand why Mr. Gandhi argues that services rendered by the Missionaries are baits or temptations, and that the conversions are therefore conversions of convenience. Why is it not possible to believe that these services by Missionaries indicate that service to suffering humanity is for Christians an essential requirement of their religion? Would that be a wrong view of the process by which a person is drawn towards Christianity? Only a prejudiced mind would say, Yes.’
Laxminarayan Gupta has pointed out that Gandhi had perceived that in an intellectually developing society, segregations over castes will only result in depopulation of Hindus in India. Gandhi also said that if the Harijans were to be kept from joining the Christian fold, the Hindus themselves must embrace them.

Ambedkar, the leader of the Dalits, as has been seen, was sceptical towards the absolute claims of any religion. The impossibility of equality and absoluteness of any religion, according to Ambedkar, makes the propagation of religious beliefs even more necessary. Plurality of religions necessitates choice of religion on the basis of rational and secular analysis. Ambedkar’s choice of Buddhism itself was based on purely secular reasons, namely the liberation of the lower castes.

Contrary to the contention of Ambedkar and other pure secularists, Hindu pluralists still believe that pluralism is the only solution of religious plurality in India. For instance, in the preface of his Modern Myths, Locked Minds, T.N. Madan states the thesis of his book:
‘Throughout Modern Myths, Locked Minds runs the conviction that participatory pluralism, rather that a hegemonic and homogenizing secularism, is what will serve India’s interests best.’
Of course, secularism that claims hegemony over all facets of the people and tries to bring every aspect of the citizen’s life under its supervision cannot be acceptable to the Indian context. Secularism in India simply has to be a non-intermingling of religion and politics.

In his article Religious Tolerance and Secularism in India, Sudheer Birodkar argues that secularism has become possible in India only because of the pluralistic and unorganized nature of Hinduism, the religion of the majority in India. However, it has already been shown that secularism in India is a concept borrowed from the West and that it could never have been possible if the Colonialists had not contributed towards education, laws, unification, and reforms in India. It was the religious interference in politics by Hinduism that stipulated the dharma of Brahmins to be priests, of the Kshatriyas to be warriors (politics), of the Vaishyas to be traders, and of the Shudras to be servants of all. The State and religion were never, therefore, separate in Hindu politics. Secularism, contrary to the Hindu pluralist’s contention, has never been a characteristic of Hinduism.
Cox has rightly said of India that ‘…India’s vast variety of sects and religions, beside which North America’s so-called pluralism must appear dully homogeneous, can survive only within a secular state. Also, since the deeply divisive castes represent remnants of kinship and tribal groupings, only further secularization will release Indians from the social fetters that caste imposes.’

Thus, pure secularism based on a humanistically and scientifically directed mutual tolerance and respect, not pluralism, is the solution for religious plurality. India cannot be united religiously; however, it can stand united politically and secularly. The scientific and rational mind needs to become the deciding factor in Indian democracy, not a pluralism based on blind-faith. However, the atavistic perspective of Gandhi was far from accepting any notion of pure rationality in matters of religion. Nirad Chaudhuri has explained that this inherent deficiency of civilization and reason in Gandhism led to its ‘descent towards the old rancorous and atavistic form of Indian nationalism.’

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Laxminidhi Sharma, Dharma Darshan Ki Rooprekha, pp.432-433
Aleyamma Zachariah, Modern Religious and Secular Movements in India, pp. 280-281
D.C. Ahir (Ed.), Ambedkar on Christianity in India, (New Delhi: Blumoon Books,1995)
Laxminarayan Gupta, History of Modern Indian Culture, (Agra: Prem Book Depo, 1973), p. 281
T.N. Madan, Modern Myths, Locked Minds (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. xxi
Vishal Mangalwadi, Missionary Conspiracy, p. 99
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A Dream Riddle

One dream of two segments,
One prophecy on two courts,
Unconfused, unmixed, in concord.
The first part seems, obviously, fulfilled,
I wait for the next to come,
One of the dream, another of a prophecy;
One ends something; the other fulfills one.
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The Power of Asking in Prayer


NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THE POWER OF JUST ASKING. IT HAS A CLEAN HISTORY -- NEVER FAILED.


"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1John 5:14-15)


THE PROMISES OF CHRIST: THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN UNANSWERED PRAYER 
THAT APPROACHES GOD IN THE CHILD-LIKE CONFIDENCE OF FAITH
IN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (John 14:13)

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 
(John 14:14)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  (John 15:16)

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  (John 16:23)

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 
(John 16:24)

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you.  (John 16:26)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)

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Inter-Personal Relationships: A Biblical Perspective


Introduction
Inter-personal relationship may be simply defined as that relationship that exists between two or more persons. It differs from a person’s association, or relating, to impersonal objects. Types of inter-personal relationship range from intra-family relationship (by birth, marriage, etc) to friendship, romantic love-relationship, business relationship, etc. A study of inter-personal relationship can be approached from, at least, four angles:

1. The Psychological Perspective. It studies the dynamics and problem of relationships based on empirical case studies and psychological theories. In the past century studies in psychoanalysis, logotherapy, and other branches has greatly contributed in this direction.
2. The Sociological Perspective. It studies the social and cultural dynamics of inter-personal relationships with reference to social structure, stratification, culture, taboos, religion, civilization, and related social theories. Sociology usually combines with psychology as social psychology to study the individual in society. Also studied are personality disorders related to social malfunction as in criminology and socio-therapy.
3. The Philosophical Perspective. It deals with a rational analysis of the ultimate conditions, nature, scope, and object of inter-personal relationships and involves epistemological, metaphysical, aesthetical, and ethical considerations regarding the same. Inter-personal relationship has been an important subject of philosophical study that finds special reference in writings ranging from the Platonic dialogues to modern existentialist and postmodernist literature.
4. The Theological Perspective. Interpretation of texts plays an important role in forming a theological perspective. The process of interpretation interacts to help correct, modify, and refine previous perspectives.

This paper will be an intensely brief introduction to an understanding of inter-personal relationship from a theological perspective, namely the Biblical one.

Foundations
The foundation of inter-personal relationship is the inter-personal relationship within the Community of the Holy Trinity. The doctrine of Trinity explicitly states that God is One but three in person: the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, without admixture of natures, with all distinction of personalities, and yet One in essence and substance. God is an inter-personal Being. The Three Persons of the Godhead inter-relate through the Spirit of Love, which is the building block and logic of all relationship. The key Biblical passage underlining the connection between the inter-personal Trinity and inter-personal humanity is Genesis 1:26-27 where the Bible records:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:26-27, emphatics mine to show the relationship of plurality and unity in God and the creation of man).

The Triune God can be seen at work in deliberation and creation of man as a singular but social being. He created him as man; He created them as male and female; yet, both are man. The connecting concepts are “image of God” and “likeness of God”. Man is created as a singular, spiritual, and social being in the image and likeness of God who is One, Spirit, and Triune. The Triune comprehends the three persons of all relational possibilities: the “I”, the “You” or “Thou”, and the “He” or “She”. No inter-personal relationship can fall outside this triangle.

Also, gender is not the determiner of sociality; it is a function. The determiner is the essence of human existence; he is a plurality; the essence is the image of God stamped on the creation of man: as God is a person, man is also a person; as God is an inter-personal being, man is also an inter-personal being. Gender is not the essence of any; the distinction is not a necessary one, but only a functional one. Spiritually, and as in the resurrection, man is not distinguished as either a male or a female. However, gender is also not an accident; it is a function of primary ultimate relationality between two contingent persons. Such ultimacy and intimacy are impossible between angels since they are not mutually derived nor related through the mutuality of that oneness, which is categorized in the words “come from” (as of Christ, John 13:3; 16:28) and “proceed from” (as of the Spirit, John 15:26) by the Bible. Similarly, the woman was made out of man and man is born of a woman. This image is, further, used in the Scripture to describe first God’s relationship with Israel and then, Christ’s relationship with the Church, which is known as the Bride and Body of Jesus Christ. The symbol of the primary derivative (that the woman was derived out of man) is used to explain the headship of man in the family and the Lordship of Christ over the Church (1Corinthians 11:8,9,12). Marriage and sexual purity, therefore, are key elements of the laws governing inter-personal relationships in the Bible.

Thirdly, the revelation of the relational dimensions of God to man perfects the idea of relationship between humans in relation to God. The Lord taught His disciples to pray addressing God as “Our Father”. Similarly, Christ calls us His brothers, His friends, and His disciples. These are sets and types of inter-personal relationships that are perfected in Christ. However, the gradation is important. The Royal Law teaches us to love God first with all our being and then our neighbors as ourselves. This doesn’t sabotage priority among “neighbors”. A believer is first expected to be faithful in his duties to his own family (wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, etc) before anything else in the order of the second greatest commandment (see 1Timothy 3:4; 5:8; 1Peter 3:7).

That brings us to the building block of relationships, Love. The Bible doesn’t elaborate on love as some human emotion. Love is exclusively seen as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The nature of godless man is lust; the expression of as Spirit-filled person is love. 1Corinthians 13 makes it very clear that without this, every form of religion is an empty exhibition only. God Himself is called Love and the Three persons of the Trinity are related through perfect love: the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father and says that no offence against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and testifies of the Son. This is the Spirit that must be the person that unites man with God and with man. This threefold cord cannot be easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). See Galatians 5:22,23 for the nine facets of the Fruit of the Spirit.

Breach of Relationship
The foundations cracked when man chose to disobey God (Genesis 3). This is known as the Fall of man. The Fall was a breach of relationship. Here man was severed from God and himself. The consequences of the Fall in Genesis 3, show us how Adam and Eve were not only ashamed and afraid of God, as a consequence but were also distrustful and accusative of each other. The Fall introduced shame, guilt, and culture. It introduced human civilization made in the image conceived of man. It is not a matter of coincidence that the first murderer built the first city on earth in the name of his son (Genesis 4:17). Obviously, sin is a transgression of the principle of love; for, love is the fulfillment of all law (1Timothy 1:5).

The Fall introduced lust as a function, motion, or process of sin in the human condition. Paul talks of this as “the motions of sin” and “another law in my members” that wars against the law of God and forces man into the slavery of sin from which he can’t deliver himself (Romans 7:5, 23). Sin distorts reality and all relationships; in fact, it makes authentic relationships impossible because of the introvert selfishness that it is essential to it. The other person and even God are perceived as mere objects through the eyes of sin; they are turned into objects and the self aggrandized or falsely debased to such an extent that purity of love becomes impossible. Modern social movements like subcultures and postmodernism must not be looked at as the problem. The problem is an ancient one and all the kinds of sins that are visible in present society, all the problems in relationships, all distortive symbolizations of love and exhibitionism of lust is seen throughout the history of human culture and civilization. The problem is sin at war in the individual’s members. The works of flesh listed Galatians 5:19-21 may be classified as (1) Sexual aberrations – adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness; (2) Spiritual aberrations – idolatry, sorcery; (3) Social aberrations – hatred, jealousies, outbursts of wrath; (4) Goal or Career aberrations – selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders (which is rivalry and obliteration of rivalry); and what may be called (5) Mental aberrations – drunkenness, revelries and the like. Modern psychologists use terms like “limerance”, “co-dependency”, and “relational aggression” to identify such disorders in inter-personal relationships.

The reduction of inter-personal relationships from “I-Thou” to “I-It” (cf. Martin Buber) marks the end of pure and personal relationship. The problem, however is severe when each of the members mutually treat each other as “It”, a means to use to obtain some desired “It” – money, sensual gratification, etc. The result is increased dissatisfaction and increased aberration; so that the final condition is not an “I-It” but an “It-It” situation. Idolatry is one example where God is stultified into an object of use, and the Bible says that they that invent such religion become like it (an “It-It” situation, Psalm 115:8). The feelings of religiosity may exist but the object of worship is impersonified. Similarly, in adultery and all other aberration, impersonalization and dehumanization are severe, despite the presence of the feelings of fidelity within the aberrations of relationships. Self-deception is acute. Social psychologists such as Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University had proven how dehumanization plays key role in dismantling the power of the conscience and gradually converting persons into devils, what he calls the “Lucifer effect”. The “It-It” situation is where the individual lives in a false and godless world created by the demands of increased sinfulness. This world detaches the individual from reality and allows the rationality of a sinful lifestyle. The Bible calls this the suppression of truth through unrighteousness (Rom.1:18). It is only through the emancipation of the Spirit that sin is rendered inoperative and the members of the body are freed to serve the Spirit of love (Rom.6).

Development of Inter-personal Relationships: Biblical Case StudyThe stages of the development and deterioration of inter-personal relationships may be outlined as follows:

1. Recognition: Propinquity. Proximity, similar beliefs, tastes, etc help in drawing persons to each other. Within families, the recognition develops through proximity and communication to give the shape of the type of relationship.
2. Communication. Communication deepens understanding of person since inter-personal relationship is spiritual, moral, intellectual, and emotional. Trust and faith builds here.
3. Love. Affection develops and binds the relationship. Love differs from infatuation, sexual attraction, and such misrepresentations in literature and movies. Psychologists distinguish true inter-personal love relationship from limerance, self-seeking lust, sadism, and philiac disorders.

1. Selfishness. The intrusion of selfishness is the end of the love-relationship, where the object of love begins to turn into an object of use. This creates frustration, dehumanization, disrespect, hurt, and, finally, exclusion. A love-relationship, on the other hand, is built on trust, faith, and self-giving.
2. Alienation. Alienation occurs where communication becomes rare or non-existent. The either of or both of the parties communicates less, giving rise to more suspicions, misunderstandings, and, finally, indifference or contempt.
3. Condemnation, Termination, and Betrayal. The final condition involves relational aggression leading to condemnation, demeaning, and a termination of the relationship. Betrayal involves, among other things, the giving out of personal information.

The first three steps lead to inter-personal relationships; the last three steps lead away from inter-personal relationships. The development may be illustrated through the following case:

Adam and Eve
In Genesis 2, the Lord brings Eve to Adam and he recognizes her in the following words “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man” (v.23). Prior to this, the Lord had brought the various beasts of the field and birds of the air to him and Adam gave them names. But, it was only when Eve was brought to him that he recognized in her the propinquity that possibilized inter-personal relationship with her. This is also the first instance of communication and expression regarding another human person by a human. The Bible doesn’t record details of communications between the both, except it that it speaks about this relationship as a pattern for all marital ones: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v.24). The intimacy and ultimacy of love is also reflected in the words “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (v.25), in other words, there was no ego-centric feeling of distancing, alienation, and concealment.

After the Fall, however, selfishness leads to alienation (covering) and, later, an accusative behavior. However, there is healing through the Edenic Covenant in which God not only pronounces curse upon the serpent and the ground but also makes a way in which humans could relate to each other contingently.

Other cases like Isaac and Rebekah, Joseph and his brothers, David and Jonathan, Jesus and Judas Iscariot, Paul and Timothy may be studied in this line.

1 Corinthians 13
This chapter comes after Paul’s explanation of inter-relational relationships within the Body of Christ in chapter 12. It must be understood that the Church is the representation of the Community that God desires humans to be. Some important points to note from chapter 12 are:

1. The unity of the Body is maintained through the relationship with the Head who is Christ through the supply of the Holy Spirit. There is One Body, One Faith, and One Spirit, though we are many (1Cor.12:1-13). Any other reason that brings division is not of God (see James 3:14-16).
2. Each member has a distinct identity, individuality, and role that can neither be denied nor be compromised. For instance, the foot cannot function as the eye (vv.14-19).
3. None of the members are to be regarded as dispensable in the inter-relationship. One of the most detrimental and damaging words that people use is “I don’t care about so and so” or “I have no need of you”. Paul says “the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (vv.20-22)
4. God has placed each person in his particular role; therefore, no body is more preferable or important than any other (vv.23-24). However, this doesn’t mean that we do not choose our friendships. Jesus also had an inner circle composed of Peter, James, and John. But, it certainly means that we do not despise the others.
5. We need to have the same care for one another, without partiality of any kind (v.25).
6. If one suffers, all suffer with it; if one is honored, all rejoice with it (v.26). This is an important principle, which is natural to the human body. The aberrational tendency is to blame the one who is suffering. We share each others mistakes and rejoice with the one who succeeds (note: it doesn’t say, share the honor or merit, but share in the rejoicing). Such is the attitude of a healthy person in Christ.
7. Every one must strive for excellence for the benefit of the Body (vv.27-31).

Then, Paul goes on to talk about the essence that pours substance into this relationship. Why does all these matter? It’s because of the love of Christ within us. We’ll ponder on the characteristics of love listed in chapter 13 from verses 4-8:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1Co 13:4-8)

Love suffers long. Nothing is more elastic than love. The greatest tension cannot break true love. It doesn’t say “How many times shall I forgive my brother, seven times?” It goes on forgiving and the fountain of forgiveness never ends.
Love is kind. Love doesn’t have the capacity to hurt or wrong someone. On the other hand, it is kind in speech and action.
Love does not envy. Love doesn’t compete with people nor envy them when they are successful. It doesn’t speak evil of anyone nor tries to destroy someone through humiliating them, slandering them, and gossiping against them.
Love does not parade itself. A person who has a healthy relationship doesn’t feel the need to show or demand his importance. He doesn’t feel the need that people should notice him and praise him. Love also knows the importance of privacy and modesty, and doesn’t talk much about itself to others.
Love is not puffed up. No one can flatter this person for he has no ego to be puffed up. The center is shifted within Christ. Jesus is all he seeks and wishes to glorify. He is saddened when people try to elate him. Like Paul and Barnabas, he’ll cry out “We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them” (Acts 14:15).
Love does not behave rudely. Love doesn’t treat someone as inhuman, unimportant, or contemptible. A healthy person knows that every person bears the stamp of the likeness of God and we’re all derived from the same root.
Love does not seek its own. This is the crux of Christian non-violence and charity. A Christian will not fight for his own rights or demand that his rights and honors be given to him. The Christian will not return hurt for personal hurt, nor will he work in any manner for personal benefit alone. The Christian functions as a role in the Body of Christ for the edification of the Body.
Love is not provoked. Love doesn’t react to situations. Love acts upon the situation. The situations do not control love; but love controls its responses. The one controlled by the flesh reacts out of the flesh; the one controlled by the Spirit responds from the Spirit.
Love thinks no evil. Love is the opposite of evil, since love is the sum and fulfillment of God’s law.
Love does not rejoice at iniquity. Love cannot enjoy any literature, joke, movie, or game that contains vulgarity, profanity, and blasphemy.
Love rejoices in the truth. This shows the connection between love and truth. The test of truth is whether love can rejoice in it. It is the opposite of malice, hypocrisy, craft, and falsehood.
Love bears all things. Love doesn’t say “I can tolerate this, but I can’t tolerate that”. It doesn’t recoil into intolerance in certain situations. It neither complains nor gives up. This is balanced with the integrity of character that it holds and doesn’t compromise with evil, but stands against falsehood as the witness of Christ.
Love believes all things. Trust and faith are built into love. It has no place for false speculations, suspicions, and doubts.
Love hopes all things. The expectation of love is positive, because this love is of God. It is anxiety-free and fearless of the future. It doesn’t treat someone as incorrigible and hopeless. It has patience with people.
Love endures all things. Love is always ready to suffer loss. It is not attached to the comforts and cares of this world. Therefore, unlike the seed that falls among thorns and thickets, love grows straight, strong, and bears fruit in its due season.
Love never fails. It has no ending point. It continues forever.

Conclusion
In John 17, Jesus prays to the Father in His priestly prayer saying “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (v.11). In other words, He wished us to be related to each other in the same manner that He is related to the Father through the Spirit in the Holy Trinity. Divisions, alienations, and breaches occur when we fail to keep the Spirit of love. We cannot, certainly, have the same level of relationships with everyone; even as we have seen that Jesus also had His inner circle of friends, then the other disciples, and then the seventy, and then others. Similarly, our relationships must catch hold of priorities, remembering the fact “whom You have given Me”. Your family is given to you and not to others, so your relationship, role, and responsibility within the family is a special one. This applies to all other relationships. The elders at Ephesus were asked to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28). Remember, Jesus chose the twelve after a whole night of prayer. We cannot be less careful in choosing our relationships. The Bible also talks about the leaven that can leaven the whole lump in 1Corinthians 5 and commands certain kind of people to be kept off from fellowship (also see 2John 10). Overall, the Spirit of love is the guiding light that directs the way every member must function and relate in the Body of Christ.

© Domenic Marbaniang, April 2010
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Enlightenment, Postmodernism, and the Spirit of Truth

As the smoke of the two World Wars cleared for the blue, but indifferent, sky to canopy the chaotic world of human design, someone wondered if pre-Enlightenment man was better than the man who “had come to age”. Perhaps, the monster was better unborn or just a child. But, that which is born grows, and that which grows doesn’t remain the same. Darwinism dismantled the myth of birth; hitherto, for the past uncountable millennia, man was a child; now, a man – evil man, wild but restrained by the conscience of some “primitive-minded” fideists that the Lokayatas (this-worldly-people) wanted to purge. These fideists were still immature.

Kant annunciated the “Enlightenment” by pounding his fist on the flat table of independent thought. He thought his thought was independent and he felt this to be mature. Every child craves independence and self-determination and every child believes he is mature, if he’s able to raise his fist and pound the floor. When does a child stop being a child anyway, and when does a man start becoming a man, after all? Who has solved this Sorites paradox? Why use terms when even the boundaries of thought, of ideas that build thought, lie undefined?

The World Wars destroyed the mature man. As the Tower of Reason fell, humanity emerged intensely plurified and the world rebooted into the age of Post-Modernism. Post-Modernism is the cultural matrix that possibilizes the unification of plurified, diversified humanity. Nothing is certain, nothing is absolute, nothing is right, nothing is wrong; everything is certain, everything is absolute, everything is right, everything is wrong. It is an attempt to wed nihilism and pluralism with profitism and put an end to the war of ideas, to all wars. It is where ideas converge and die. It is the culture of capitalism, of secular politics, literature, and arts. Its intention is survival; its goal, profit; its ethic, anything that passes censorship and is acceptable to mankind in general. Truth ceases to be a category and turns into a function, a relation between situation and security. That which functions to address a given situation to obtain an intended result is Truth. Truth is not intellectual and final; it is situational and functional. But, Post-Modernism is bad terminology; for, it is not post-modern at all: it has existed from the beginning of history in the cultures and chronicles of man, wild man. Said Isaiah regarding the Israel in disorder:

"Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter. So truth fails,
And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice." (Isaiah 59:14-15)

Interestingly, the ancient problem also has an ancient solution: spiritual faith, justified by the experience of the Spirit. The test of this experience is 8-fold: purity, reasonability, gentleness, openness, fullness of mercy and good fruits, impartiality and absence of hypocrisy (James 3:17); the result, 9-fold: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, Jesus said: “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). He then went on to say “If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed” (8:36), claiming thereby that the knowledge of Christ constitutes the apprehension of Truth and the reinstalling of man into his proper place in relation to the world and his Creator. Christ is the revelation of who God is and what man is to be through God. In this revelation is the salvation of mankind, his deliverance from the chaos of the wild into “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

© Domenic Marbaniang, April 2010.
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Do not stare at your commas as if they are your full stop

Do not stare at your commas as if they are your full stop. Commas are marks of continuity, not signs of a dead end.

"It's a slip, not a fall." - Abe Lincoln after losing a political contest.


March 10, 2016
Dale Carnegie, Lincoln the Unknown, p. 104

On election night, Lincoln remained in the telegraph office, reading the returns. When he saw that he had lost, he started home. It was dark and rainy and gloomy. The path leading to his house had been worn pig-backed and was slippery. Suddenly, one foot shot from under and hit the other. Quickly he recovered his balance. "It's a slip," he said, "and not a fall."

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Presence Leadership. Be the Voice!

You fail to impact the moment you retract. Silence is entropic; mission is action. Shepherds lead by their voice and presence. Generals lead by going ahead of their army in the battlefield. There is no remote control chamber in the Kingdom of God. The seed will only grow where it falls, where it is, where it touches the soil. "Go ye out...to all nations"

P.S. Even the devil leads by his presence in the world. Jesus leads by His presence in the Church. The economy of your voice can ruin or build the nation. "Open rebuke is better than secret love." Refuse not your voice to the world, while you have breath and strength to speak.

Then they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to tell those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John told them in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "I am the voice of one calling out in the desert: 'Make the road straight for the Lord.'" (John 1:22-23)
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Faithful to the End: Amit Gilbert

While the world pursues to understand the why and how of Amit’s death from the Hindutvavadis’ attack on a Christian gathering two days back, I desire to write a few lines in memory of my student, brother, and friend in the Lord.

A very calm, kind-hearted, and intensely thoughtful boy, he was soon spotted by our administration to, first, help as a Monitor for the General Convention Week held in 2009, and then appointed as General Monitor for the academic year. This was his Final Year at College.

I remember him coming to my room on the last day of College. He said he just wanted to meet me in case I was already leaving and didn’t get to meet. He had been sick for a few days and was unable to write one of my exams. He also looked a bit pale from work fatigue, I supposed. But, I still discerned the glistening in his eyes and was glad that he proved to be faithful and able in the task given to him. That was the last time I saw him, and he said that he would leave for Raipur. The next time I heard of him was of a Convention near Sarni, of an attack by the Bajrang Dal, and of his death by accident of falling into a blind well while fleeing the attacks. I was shocked for a moment and the thing didn’t seem possible for a long time. It was so sudden, so early, and I felt too unnecessary. But God’s ways are etched into history and His ways are right. A lot of news, presently, in circulation needs to be verified; but, I’m sure of one thing — our brother has gone ahead of us to see the Face of our Lord. I came to know that he had just closed the Convention with the last prayer when the attack occurred. He reminds me that life is short but relationships are eternal. That is one of the reasons why we don’t hold a grudge or harbor any ill feeling against those who ignorantly count us as their enemies and persecute the unarmed children of God. Life is short but Truth lives forever. Hatred can never pull on for long; love is eternal and unending. Amit reminds me that there are a few realities of life that must never be cast aside; one of those is the reality of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going. We have an assurance that death is not the finality, that we will all meet in heaven, and that we’ll all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day. The way we live in this world, the realities that we believe to be true, and the way we look at each other is determined by our forgetfulness or thoughtfulness of our terrestrial, temporal framework in relation to the eternal one. One day, this framework will dissolve and the Judgment will decide whether the values we placed on ourselves and on others and our judgments regarding ourselves, people, and the world were as gold, silver, and precious stones (lasting) or as hay, stubble, and grass – for, all shall be tested by God’s fire. One another thing, among many others, that stands before me and stares into my eyes is the fact that there is a cause for which we live and die, and the cause is a serious one; it is the cause of waking the world from its self-invented and false matrix of godless reality; it is the cause of delivering the world from its bondage to iniquity; it is the cause of witnessing what God has eternally spoken to man, finally, as the only Hope through Jesus Christ, “the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

We pray for divine peace to the bereaved but blessed family of Amit Gilbert, a student of God’s Word, a faithful deacon in the Church of Jesus Christ, an evangelist, a friend, a brother, and a seed of the Church in India.


Amil Gilbert rested on Saturday, April 17, 2010.
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Eye Salve

The eye salve went a missin' and, boom, blew sunshine out of sky.
But, it left this hope a lingerin' that it'll come back by and by.

The world needs one beautifier, this cooler of vision and eye.
And, tho' the world grow sorer and indifferent,
The eye salve will beauty testify:
This eye salve does hope certify, vision purify, the world beautify...


"anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see." -- Jesus Christ, Rev.3:18

© Domenic Marbaniang, April 2010
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God's Love

Rahiman dhaga prem ka mat todevu chatkai,
Tootei to phir na milei, milei ganth parijai.

Never snap off the string of love, O Rahim,
For broken will it not join; joined it'll leave a knot.

The broken string of human love will only join through an enduring knot (Rahim).

In contrast,

God's love keeps no knots - He forgives and forgets, absolutely, relentlessly, irrevocably.
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Salvation from Sin

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jer 8:20)


He who lives in sin doesn't fall in sin; he who falls in sin doesn't live in sin. The slip and the fall were momentary.

He who is born of God doesn't desire to sin; he who desires to sin is not born of God. The slip and the fall were involuntary.

No lover of Christ ever desires to displease Him; no displeaser loves Christ. The slip and the fall were a hateful lapsing.

Nothing hurts and damages as the deceitfulness of sin; nothing heals and builds up as the truth of God.

What man of God desires wickedness? He desires to avoid evil, but desire to avoid is powerless before the desire to fulfill. He who focuses on avoiding sin rather than on fulfilling righteousness is overpowered by sin. Where there is no light, there is darkness all the time.

Sow Your righteousness in this soul of Your purchase, Lord!
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Good Friday Ka Mahatva - Hindi Message on All India Radio

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I Thirst (John 19:28)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” (John 19:28)

Two pieces of information inserted by John
1. Jesus knew that all things were now accomplished
2. Jesus said something so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

This is a retrospective interpretation. John didn’t know this then. Either Christ revealed this to the disciples after His resurrection or he understood this through the Holy Spirit later on. He only spoke of His thirst after the work was over.

1. Christ’s Zeal for our Salvation – the Ultimate Mission: What is our goal in life? Are souls our concern? Is our own soul our concern?
2. Christ’s Care for the details of God’s Word – the Ultimate Guide: What is our guide in life? Is God’s Truth paramount? Is God’s Witness paramount?

Questions:
Does physical need supersede spiritual goals?
Does leisure and levity take over stringent adherence to His Word?

Good Friday, Pentecostal Church, April 2, 2010.
Domenic Marbaniang
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PASSION


The sun lifted his arm to hide his reddened face,
The winds ceased and the earth jolted in confusion;
The universe blackened; history was blotted out.

The One who held this vast universe by His power
Now hung motionless in body on the Cross --
That cursed pole obliterated by His crushed frame.

Puny little powers had wielded powerless hammers
Driving nails, lifting Him up for all eyes to see
What salvation God ordained through this cursed tree.

Two thieves for company; few friends, more foes
Waited, as time fled, to watch this end;
Time did end; history choked.

The quivers quivered as bitter arrows were disengaged;
Sin rattled against that Love immutable and true:
O Mockery, you had never so hatefully grimaced
Than when He prayed,
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

One sinner cursed, the other his sins confessed
And sought a hope this world never knew;
Glory shone from God’s battered face,
As to him He said,
“Verily, you’ll be with Me in paradise today, I say to you!”

Then, from those torn lips flowed words of sealing
A woman whose breast He leaned on
To the disciple that leaned on His:
“Woman, behold your son!”
“Son, behold your mother!”

And, darkness covered the land for hours three;
Chronicles and almanacs wriggled in disbelief;
Time dropped her hands all mystified,
As He cried,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

What pride mars the hearts of sinful mortals,
Their evil enflamed by their wishful desires!
One blinded man whispered, “He calls for Elijah!”
Another mocked, “Now, he needs help.”
We plunder our lives for goods of godless pleasure,
We plummet our souls into hell’s horrendous grave;
Then, we look at the Crucified Savior,
And whisper to ourselves, “He needs help!”

The agony was over, the agony released;
He knew it was over and felt the peace;
Then, He said, “I thirst!”
Lord, I was the cause and the reason why You thirsted.
The liquid that most composes this earthly sheath
Was drained from Your veins to wipe my shame;
You thirsted in order that I may never thirst again!

They lifted to You that venomous vinegar
To burn Your lips, to blunt Your pain.
You turned Your Holy face in refusal,
Your thirst was quenched when You quenched my shame.

Then, He cried “It is finished;”
The Law and the Prophets brought to an end in Him.
One Act of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Nullified religion, culture, and every human whim.
The wisdom of the wise in their wallets,
The power of princes in their pockets,
Let forever be confined:
He’s done with these, I’m done as well;
I’m crucified to the world through Him.
The old is blotted out, history has changed,
The transgressor is no more; see, there this saint!
Man no longer has works; these are acts of the Cross,
From where alone flows each disciple’s works.

What cry now rends the heavens and the earth!
What voice echoes through the corridors of space!
“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!”
The only Obedient Son died to live again!

The veil of the temple was torn asunder,
The earth quaked and the rocks were split;
His material case broke open; the path of heaven was paved.

The centurion fell to his knees in wonder,
The crowd beat their breasts and cried;
Silence! God hangs motionless, the penalty is paid.

As the sacrificial lamb brought to the altar,
As the sparrow over running waters slain,
He poured out His boundless love and drenched me with grace.

Lord, what is passion and how much zeal’s enough?
Your Passion displayed passionately the ultimacy of love.
The world’s fully obliterated, it’s only You all now!


© Domenic Marbaniang, Thursday, April 1, 2010
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