Who Am I?

You can make the rocks cry out,
Who am I?

Before Your might the Behemoth and the Leviathan shudder,
Who am I?

You swing stars into their place and know the trillions of trillions by their names,
What am I?

I repent in dust and ashes and submit my heart unquestioningly to You,
Still, my Lord I always belong to You...
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Secrets of Spiritual Strength (2 Tim. 2:1-6)

Text: 2 Timothy 2:1-6
Sanjaynagar, Feb 20, 2011

1. Strength in the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (v 1)
We can only be strong in His grace.
We can always approach His throne of grace in prayer (Heb 4:16)
Grace upon grace. (Jn 1:16)
But, grace is only given to the humble (James 4:6).

2. Strength through Sharing God's Blessings (v 2)
You only get strong in the thing you share with others
Example: Teachers know better the subject than those who just pass the class and never keep teaching the subject.
A stagnant pool gets dirty soon.
Sharing reinforces teaching
Share it with faithful ones who can pass it on to others.
Stewardship

3. Strength through Hardship (v 3)
Building Endurance
Building Strength
Spiritual Practice - Exercise
Example: Jesus' prayed so hard that His sweat was as blood drops.
Proverbs: The lazy man will never progress
Not being slothful but working hard and growing in strength
Do not be lazy in prayer, Bible reading, hospitality, witnessing, and fellowshipping.

4. Strength through Pleasing the Master (v 4)
Example: A well known violinist who never cared for the audience' applause, but only looked to the nod of his master sitting somewhere among the crowd. He lived in the audience of the one.
God's nod of approval is more important than all the world.
Will He be able to say "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things"?

The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

5. Strength through Law-abiding (v 5)
There are particular rules for healthy living
There are crucial rules for strength exercise
There are disciplines that need to be followed.

We can't just be random and strike at strength
It is a process that takes time, patience, practice, and care regarding spiritual health laws.

The Bible is our Law book and the Holy Spirit is our tutor.

IF WE DO ALL THIS THEN, V. 6, WE'LL PARTAKE OF THE FRUITS.

Domenic Marbaniang, Feb 20, 2011
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Punjabi Christian Gospel Song - Asi Rabde Bande Han by Domenic Marbaniang

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How One Can Know the Truth (2 Timothy 3)

Text: 2Timothy 3

Essentialities of Truth Perception

1. Moral Commitment to Pursuit of Truth (vv. 1-5).
In the last days, the decrease in the will-to-truth will occur by the increase of love for pleasure and a rebellion against absolutes. Atheism is a mind-set that can't hang on to absolutes and attempts all escapism from the truth of God. It is a moral problem, not a theological one. Those who wish to follow truth must make a commitment to obey it no matter what the consequences would appear to be. Only the ardent seeker will find.

2. Critical Mind-set (v. 6).
Gullibility is a dangerous evil. It usually follows a will-against-truth-towards-pleasure. The credulous are easily deceived. One must weigh things before submitting to them.

3. Truth-Orientation (v. 7).
All learning must be with the goal to know the truth, and not to heighten skepticism. Questions must lead to knowledge; not end in doubt. Too much of learning without any earning of wisdom is a wild chase after the wind (Ecclesiastes).

4. Faith (v. 8).
All knowledge is founded on faith. Faith is the lock of assurance, the ground of knowledge. Unless one has faith, one can't know anything.

5. Action (v.9).
Truth is wisdom; wisdom, truth. To possess truth means to believe the truth and act it out. The time test will reveal what is wisdom and what is not. The fruit of truth is wisdom; the fruit of rebellion, folly.

6. Example (vv. 10-13).
Following the example of truth in the lives of people. Truth is livable; not just some theoretical conjecture about reality. If you can't live it out; you can't hold it on either -- practically speaking. Followers of falsehood exemplify a deceptive lifestyle; followers of truth, a godly one.

7. Continuation in the Word (vv. 14-17).
The Scripture of God, given by the inspiration of God, is the source of all divine truth. It is the authority in matters of doctrine and faith. It makes one wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (faith is important, v.15). It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

© Domenic Marbaniang, 16 February, 2011.
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Clear the Sky!


Shadows, these dark clouds,
They block the light -- it's hard!

Rainwater, running all over,
It blurs the vision -- can't ride!

What current now runs through my being --
I wish to think, to write, but the mind's veiled!

Holy Spirit, God of cloud and rain!
Draw Your scepter, clear the sky,
Let the faultless dove now fly!

Save Your servant
From the onslaught of influence!
Save Your bondslave
From the bondage of shame!
May Your kindness guide me through these storms,
And bring You glory through these clouds and this rain!

© Domenic Marbaniang, February 13, 2011
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Winning through Discipline and Diligence


I remember a story by Leo Tolstoy in which the devil wishes to deceive and lure Ivan the Fool. After failing many attempts to lure him, he finally proposes to teach Ivan and all the fools how to do brain-work. He says that they who work with the mind can do better than they that work with the hands. This interests Ivan the Fool who remarks that he wanted to learn how to work with the head so that it'll help when they're tired working with the hands. So, the fools gather around the devil who ascends to a tower and begins his lectures on how to work with the head. They wait and wait and wait, until someone asks "Has he yet started working with his head?" to which another responds "No, he's just been talking all along." So, they all start leaving because they can't leave their works and listen to speeches when he promised them to show them how to work with the head. After three days of lecturing, the devil is exhausted and hungry. He asks for bread, but the people say that if working with the head is better than working with the hands, then he should be able to procure his bread thereby. The devil, finally, can't take it anymore and falls down hitting his head against a pole. Someone, exclaims "Oh, he's started working with the head." And, people rush to him as he keeps tumbling down and down. But, then, suddenly there's a hole in the ground and the devil disappears out of the sight. He has lost.

The lesson is that simple-mindedness with manual labor has great gain than philosophizing about the universe and doing nothing with the hands.

Following are few proverbs from the Bible about the same:
"He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." Proverbs 10:4


"The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labour." Proverbs 12:24

"The soul of the lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." Proverbs 13:4

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty." Proverbs 21:5


However, this doesn't mean that intellectual reasoning is not important. For instance, Jesus Himself taught that a person should first calculate his budget before beginning to build a house, because it would be bad to begin something and not be able to finish it because all resources were depleted half-way. And, winning is certainly about finishing something. No one gets a prize for just beginning a race; one gets it for finishing it and winning it. Therefore, proper thought should precede proper action. Even the Buddha talked about "Right Views" before "Right Aspirations" and "Right Action".

Secondly, diligence is the result of a disciplined mind. The mind is a horrible wanderer. You may know the story of a man who went to hunt a lion; then, finding the traces of deer, turned to follow them, then finding that of a boar, turned to it, until by the end of the day, he could hunt nothing. That's what an undisciplined mind does. One believes something is right today, and changes it tomorrow. One speaks one thing before one person with strong reasoning, and changes it later on. If you want to reach the shore, your boat should follow the compass, and work the rudder and the sail. You can't just keep on tossing from wave to wave and play the yo-yo between winds of the world all the time. Care not for what people say. Follow the truth. Guard your heart. Believe the right thing. Act with honesty, truth, and diligence, and prosperity is in your way.

Set up goals. Plan carefully and determinedly. Carry out the work with diligence, discipline, and determination. Win through discipline and diligent action!

© Domenic Marbaniang, February 2011
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Rational Fideism

by Domenic Marbaniang [1]

There are three chief epistemological approaches to the study of God, namely, the rational approach, the empirical approach, and the revelational or Sabdic approach. Neither the rational approach nor the empirical approach is theologically effective; it is only through a subjective urge of faith and a rational fideistic appropriation of revelation that one can ever come to know God.

The rationalist tradition only leads to a monistic view of divine reality. This is so because with the expulsion of empirical categories, reason is left with nothing other than its own features of unity, transcendence, immutability, universality, and necessity. Thus, one sees in Zeno’s paradoxes that there is a seeming contradiction between the results of rational analysis and that of experience. Zeno showed that plurality and mobility of experience is rationally impossible. In the India peninsula, Gaudapada of the Advaita tradition (8th century AD), showed through analysis of consciousness and causal relations that reality is fundamentally non-dual. Advaitism goes a step further than Greek philosophy in trying to provide an explanation for the diversity of phenomena. According to it, it is by the power of Maya that the non-dual absolute appears to itself as the universe. Obviously, the demand of experience for a cosmological explanation from reason leads to a point of irrationality. Maya is neither existent nor non-existent; for if it is existent, then non-duality is false; however, if it does not exist, then it can have no power of delusion.

The same frustration between reason and experience is visible during the Enlightenment in the development of German Idealism. Immanuel Kant attempted to harmonize them in his theory of phenomenalism; however, his theory only tended towards skepticism. Kant attempted to answer the conflict by attributing to the mind the interpretation of nature in the appearances that we know it as. However, this only increased skepticism in the field of knowledge in the attempt to preserve both reason and experience. Fichte decided to solve this by positing an absolute ego whose counterpart, the finite ego, attempts to master nature to conform it to the ideals of reason. Yet, the dualist problem wasn’t solved and various attempts can be seen in pantheistic naturalism, absolute idealism, and panentheism to bridge the chasm between the two sources of knowledge, i.e., between reason and experience (between mind and nature). The revulsion against rationalizing nature became sore, however, with the emergence of logical positivism that regarded all metaphysics as nonsensical; but, this couldn’t prevent counter-reactions in New Age, in postmodernism, and in energy and consciousness cults. Reason always attempts some kind of a unity and quintessentiality of all reality. The failure to harmonize reason and experience leads to even greater metaphysical problems. Thus, the problem of the rational approach has been shown. The problem is that reason fails to adequately relate itself to experience and consequently, its inference regarding reality is devoid of empirical or practical value.

The empirical approach, on the other hand, failed to go beyond experience in its search for divine reality. The empirical epistemics of divine reality does not go beyond the limits of experience and regard divinity to be empirically conceivable. Animism and polytheism multiply and diversify the deities. Pantheism, not to be confused with monism, regards all nature as divine. Pantheism does retain the notion of plurality though attributing divinity to everything. It has also been shown that these theologies only reflect the results of empirical observations and are consistent in maintaining the phenomenal reality of the universe as plural, contingent, changing, and finite. However, this is done at the expense of reason. Consequently, absolutes and abstract values are in danger. Good and evil are the result of imperfect creation either synonymous with or continuous with divinity which itself is imperfect, finite, and changing. As such, the world does not have a necessary, unified, eternal, and immutable ground of existence. The skeptical side has been taken by skepticism (as reflected in David Hume), the logical positivists, pragmatism, and mysticism. One argument of Hume was that all that one can gather from one’s experience is that some finite god or gods may have created the world. This imperfect world could never be a creation of a perfect God. He also showed that the concept of causal relation may be farfetched. The positivists rejected all metaphysics as empirically worthless. Pragmatism relativized truth and thus destroyed the basis for absolutes. Mysticism, however, though related to theologies, is not theological in itself but relies highly on experience much of which can be reproduced by usage of certain drugs. Thus, when empirically searching for God one gets back to nothing but nature itself. In that sense, one has not discovered God but only nature.

Those in the fideistic school have basically argued that knowledge of God is impossible without God revealing Himself to man. Kierkegaard pointed out that the subjective is crucial to the epistemic event. Barth and Brunner showed that apart from revelation man could in no way come to know God. Ross has shown that there are inner convictors that propel one’s will-to-believe. Further, Plantinga and Swinburne, by an exposition of basic beliefs, have shown that belief in God can also be basic and so is in need of no evidence. Overall, however, it must be added, that this cannot mean that faith becomes rationally irresponsible. Rationality of faith in revelation is significant. Revelation must be verbal in the first place. The verbal nature of revelation presupposes rationality of faith. Faith is indispensable to any epistemics. Faith is the foundation of all knowledge and knowability. Reason has no reason to justify itself apart from reasoning itself. This means that unless reason believes in itself it cannot proceed at all. Likewise, unless experience is credible, one cannot proceed with certainty. Thus, faith is the foundation of knowledge and knowability. Since reason and experience are incapable of crossing their finite horizons in order to know ultimate reality, revelation is necessary. The particularity of Biblical Revelation is that it affirms the distinctiveness of divine reality from this-worldly-reality. There can be no rational or even empirical transition from the ultimate of this-worldly-reality to divine reality itself. This is only given in Revelation.

The quest for ultimate reality, however, must not be dissected from the existentiality of the seeker. Existential passions give birth to the philosophical quest for the absolute. The existential passions are governed by the inability to find a harmony in the noetic mechanism of experience and reason. This constitutes the subjectivity of man which Kierkegaard describes as infinite passion. One can ignore this existential conflict by forgetting the transcendent through rigorous absorption in the immanent; however, for the intellectual soul, this only tends towards further vexation. Faith that is rationally consistent and subjectively satisfying provides meaning to life. Thus, rational fideism as the rational adventure of faith to harmonize the inner metaphysical conflict is argued as the best epistemic of divine reality.

NOTES
[1] Originally presented as abstract of dissertation on “Epistemics of Divine Reality” to the Asian Institute of Theology, Bangalore, 2007. Modified, February 2011.


Later Entries

May 22, 2015: Rational Fideism Definitions
  • The approach that sees "reason as capable of providing the intellectual foundation of faith, not a priori but a posteriori, much as philosophy provides an intellectual foundation to theology.(Patrick J. Clarke, Examining Philosophy and Ethics, Nelson Thomes, 2002. p.28)
  • "The view that the knowledge of God can be certified through faith alone that is based on a revelation that is rationally verified."(Domenic Marbaniang, Epistemics of Divine Reality, Lulu, 2011, p.162)
  • The opposite of "pure, blind, fideism", (Popkin as described by Ira O.Wade, Intellectual Origins of the French Enlightenment, Princeton University Press, 1971, p.552)
  • Involves the possibility of reason becoming self-critical. "Seeing it as the kind of responsible fideism, he states, "If human reason has limitations and also has some ability to recognise those limitations, then the possibility of responsible fideism emerges."(C. Stephn Evans, Faith Beyond Reason, Edinburgh University Press, 1998, p.55)
  • The view that "Faith, and faith alone, is the basis for our belief in our reason. We believe in our reason because we believe in God's veracity. We do not try to prove that God is truthful; we believe this. Thus, faith in God gives us faith in reason, which in turn "justifies" our belief that God is no deceiver." (Glanvill, according to Richard H. Popkin, The History of Scepticism, Oxford University Press, 2003, p.213)

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Conformity Appeal



Modernization, contextualization, and indigenization are all good words with proper intention of appeal through being relevant.

However, when this is stretched to the point of conformity to the other group's ideals, one lands into danger.

1. It is easy to pull someone down than to pull someone up.

2. It may be necessary for you to bend as far as possible in order to reach out and grasp the one in need of help. But, don't bend so far that you lose your balance and fall into the pit yourself.

3. If one conforms to another's ideals, the point of difference is lost and the appeal fully nullified.

Getting off balance while attempting to relate and reach can lead to dilemmas, confusions, skepticisms, and finally fall. So, one needs to be very cautious.
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The Search for Reality in Greek and Indian Philosophy

From Epistemics of Divine Reality, 2nd Edn. (2010) by Domenic Marbaniang, pp.92,93

While for the Greeks physical reality was a major concern, for the Indians conscious reality was the major concern. While the Greeks tried to find what the unifying basis of all physical reality was as such, the Indians wanted to find what the unifying basis of all conscious reality was as such. The Greeks began from physics and proceeded on to metaphysics. The Indians began from the self, from consciousness, and proceeded on to metaphysics. The Greeks tried to analyze the known in order to understand the known. The Indian analyzed the knower in order to understand the known. Thus, the Indian quest for ultimate reality can be described as a search for a psychological basis of the universe.

This has several implications:

  1. In the search for the external, one begins with the attempt to first understand the internal, viz. consciousness.

  2. Before knowing what is out there, one begins with the attempt to first understand why knowing even exists.

  3. If consciousness as one experiences it is false, then all quest no matter how scientific it appears will be wrong headed. But if consciousness as one experiences it is true, then the quest can end up in truth.

  4. The problem is not why something exists, but why something such as consciousness exists. The knower is thus the starting point.

  5. Liberation, thus, becomes noetic; knowledge of the Truth brings salvation.

  6. No wonder, then, in advaita the Brahman is called Sat-chit-ananda, meaning Being-Consciousness-Bliss, with pure consciousness as the essence of being and bliss; bliss being that condition of being as consciousness in which no distraction or strife by virtue of duality exists.


From Epistemics of Divine Reality, 2nd Edn. (2010) by Domenic Marbaniang, pp.92,93
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Women as Ministers

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. (Rom 16:1-2)

Paul referred to Phoebe as a servant (diakonos), a deacon and minister of the church in Cenchrea. The term diakonos in the New Testament is used for people in governmental authority (Rom 13:4), for the apostolic ministry of Paul (Eph 3:7, Col 1:23), for a servant-attitude service of a disciple (Matt 23:11), for deacons (1Tim 3:8), and for servants (Jn 2:5).

The context of Romans 16:1-2 indicates that Phoebe was a deaconess or a minister of the church in Cenchrea. She was to be received in a manner worthy of the saints, with respect. The next verse mentions Priscilla and
Aquila who are called fellow workers in Christ Jesus (v 3).

Women have an important role to play in the ministry of God's kingdom. As Phoebe and Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, were a great help to Paul and many others, similarly women can be a great help and play significant roles in the work of God. Along with her husband, a woman can be a great leader in the family of God because she is able to lead the women better. She can also be a great help in the ministry of hospitality and ministry among children. Many women have been great elders in the Church, guiding, helping, and encouraging young men and women in the faith of the Lord.
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Self-Control - An Essential Qualification of God's Servant

A man of God should possess a disciplined life-style (rising early, keeping things tidy, eating moderately, talking sparingly and wisely, behaving modestly, studying purposefully, avoiding all appearance of evil, pursuing excellence with all diligence). He should bear self-control. He should also first be a good leader in his own home before he could be qualified to lead the family of God.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1Co 9:27)

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Pro 25:28)

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Ti 3:2-7)

Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (1Ti 3:8-12)

*All emphasis mine. The emphasis only highlight a few examples of self-control. They don't mean that these are more important. All the qualifications are binding.
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A Dialogue on Trinity - III

III

continued from “A Dialogue on Trinity-II”

Madeleine: Then, when did this become a problem?

Clarke: It became a serious problem some 300 years after Christ, when a certain presbyter named Arius began teaching that Jesus was not God but the first creation of God. God created Jesus first; then, all other things through him, he said. Many preachers did oppose him and a Council was called at Nicaea in 325 AD, in which, after rigorous debates from both sides for a period of two months, Arius’ teaching was declared heretical, or false.

Madeleine: Is the divinity of Jesus so important?

Clarke: Yes, very important. If Jesus is not God, He cannot give us eternal life; neither can He provide for us eternal redemption, nor can He be the author of the new creation, nor a proper mediator between God and man.

Madeleine: What if there were no Father and no Holy Spirit, but only Jesus is God?

Clarke: Then, Jesus could neither be moral nor relational. To be moral would require the presence of another person. One cannot possess nor be the embodiment of love unless there exists an object of that love. God is love, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are bound together in the Holy Triune Community by God’s infinite and divine love. If God were not a person and Triune at the same instance, then He would be a lonely person before the creation. But, God is by nature a good, kind, merciful, and a communicating Master. This is only possible because in His being, God is never a singular person, He is a community of three persons from all eternity.

Madeleine: That almost makes it appear as if He was composed of three different persons.

Clarke: Certainly not.

Madeleine: But, if not, how would persons in the divine community be different from persons in our communities, that is, they are three different people? We come back to the same question.

Clarke: This is where faith exhausts analogy from human experience. This truth is so crystal clear in the Scripture and yet we don't find any illustration that could rightly explain it to us. But, someone has offered a few that are close to it.

We don't believe that the three persons are 1+1+1=3

Let's take the analogy of 1x1x1=1; then as

Length x Breadth x Height = Space,
Energy x Motion x Phenomenon = Matter,
Future x Present x Past = Time,
Space x Matter x Time = Universe,
Nature x Person x Personality = Man;


in the like manner, we can talk of the three persons in the Trinity as one God.

Madeleine: Oh, wow!

to be continued…

© Domenic Marbaniang, February 2011.





Buy A Dialogue on Trinity Today
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How Could An Innocent Man Die for the Sins of the World?



The Scandal of Particularity questions how one Man could be God and also be the Savior of the whole world. There are two pictures in the Bible that answer this:

1. Surety. Jesus Christ is made the surety of the New Covenant by which participants in the Covenant share in the blessings of the Covenant (Hebrews 7:22). Now, a surety is someone who provides a warrant or guarantee for an other. If I wish to borrow Rs.5000/- from a creditor, and he doesn't trust me, he would ask for a guarantor or surety, who answers to him and is willing to pay in case I am not able to pay the amount back. Similarly, when we were weak and without strength, and in a state when we could not repay our debts, Christ paid the penalty of our sins.

2. Priest. A Priest is a legally appointed Mediator who represents man before God; as such, Christ, appointed after the order of Melchizedek as a Priest forever, provides a better sacrifice than the blood of animals that the priests after the Aaronic order presented for centuries before Him. Their sacrifices couldn't have efficacy since they had to make atonement for their own sins first, then for the sins of the people. In addition, the blood of animals cannot adequately atone for the sins of mankind. Through the offering of His Body, the High Priest Jesus Christ, opens up a way for us before God. We now have access to the Father. His appointment was official and His sacrifice without blemish; therefore, it was fully acceptable and satisfactory in the sight of God, and we also in Him.

© Domenic Marbaniang, Lectures in Soteriology, February 2011.

For further reading:The Humanity and Divinity of Christ
C. S. Lewis on Theories of Atonement
Estrangement and Belongedness in the Ultimate Sacrifice of God
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The Sixth-Fifth Century BC in the Theology of History



Roman Triumphal arch panel copy from Beth Hate...


Proceeding from a Christo-centric view of History as a linear and purposeful succession of events that are centered around the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the consummation of all things in Him, we also observe that the 6th-5th c. B.C. had a significant role to play in the development of the preparatio evangelica towards the advent of Christ. This period of world-history was characterized by reform movements worldwide.

Middle-East:
The Babylonian invasion of Israel, the burning of the temple, and the rise of Prophetical reforms among the Jews. The shift of focus from the temple to worship in spirit and in truth. The prophets in action as Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, and also Haggai and Zechariah, while Ezra and Nehemiah lead the Jews who return to Jerusalem in true spirituality. The gentiles also witness the Sovereignty of YHWH and His rule over all the earth.

Zoroastrianism is widespread in Persia (the traditional view placing Zoroaster in the 6th c. B.C.).

Europe:
Greek Philosophy comes to surface. Reason supersedes blind faith, investigates belief, and unleashes the search for true wisdom.

Asia:
Jainism and Buddhism rise as protest and reform movements in India. They protest against violence, priestcraft, practice of sacrifice, polytheism, and the social evils and preach a highly ethical and non-violent path. The religion of ahimsa (non-violence) is taught in the people's own tongue, and not in the elite Sanskrit. The way is opened to all people.

In China, Confucianism teaches what the ultimate goal of religion is.

Whether these reform movements were in anyway influenced by the Jewish diaspora is a thesis that needs to be researched. However, one thing is evident. The spiritual wall between Jerusalem and the world was being leveled down as people everywhere openly begin to seek the way of the right and the vision of Truth. Corruption would soon creep into each of these various movements, but reforms would spring up now and then again and again. The Spirit of Christ prepares peoples and cultures for the salvation of God by turning their hearts away from the vanity of vain religion. Yet, the shackles haven't been fully broken. Yet, the world has been saved from the cascade of self-destruction.

We also begin to see several key theological truths emerge during these years:

1. God is Sovereign. He overthrows the wicked and will destroy evil. (Judaism, Zoroastrianism)
2. God must be worshiped in Spirit and in truth and not merely through rituals of religion. (Judaism)
3. True religion doesn't consist in cants, castes, and creeds. True religion is personal and salvific. (Jainism, Buddhism)
4. Animal sacrifices cannot bring deliverance. Sacrifice should be personal. Salvation consists in emancipation from the bondage of human lusts and passions. (Jainism, Buddhism)
5. Duty towards our neighbor is more important than the knowledge of metaphysics, or of heaven and of hell. (Confucianism)
6. Morality cannot be based upon polytheistic beliefs. (Greek Philosophy)
7. The Good is the golden path between the extremism of hedonism and asceticism. (Aristotle, Gautama Buddha).

© Domenic Marbaniang, February 2, 2011.
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What is the Church?



A modern Western worship team leading a contem...


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.. (1 Pet. 2:9)

The English word "Church" comes from the Greek Kyriakon meaning "of the Lord". The term used in the New Testament, however, is ekklesia (formed of ek, "out", and kaleo, "called"), meaning the "called out". Peter refers to the Church as not a building made up of bricks or stones, not of a place or a physical structure, but as a people who are "called out" of darkness into God's marvellous light. The terms used in this scripture reflect God's vision for His people when He called them out of the slavery of Egypt in the book of Exodus. He said:
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exo 19:4-6)

Here, in 1 Peter 2:9, the Church is referred to as

1. A Chosen Generation. This is in contrast to the Adamic generation that is considered to be crooked and perverse (Phil. 2:15). This generation is born not of the will of flesh but of the will of God. The Church is an assembly of "born again" believers. It is a generation that is handpicked of God as a special treasure of His own. They have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4).

2. A Royal Priesthood. The Church is not a religious system of priesthood, laymen, and priestcraft. Every believer in the Body of Christ is a priest unto God. The priesthood of believers is royal, coming from the heritage of Jesus Christ, who descended from David, of the tribe of Judah. It is Melchizedekian; not, Aaronic. The priests bear royal authority of the Kingdom of God.

3. A Holy Nation. The Church is sanctified by the faith of the Gospel, by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit. It belongs to God and is set apart and separated from the world by the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is a Nation made up of people who come out of many nations.

4. A Peculiar People. The Church is a special people, who possesses several special distinctives: Christ, the New Covenant, the Promises of God, Eternal Life, Eternal Inheritance. They have an identity that comes from God. They belong to heaven.

The purpose of this being "called out" is to showforth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.
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