Clandestine Faith??

Business Advisor: You should get clandestine about your Christian identity and faith when you're in the secular world, or face closed doors.
Christian: Sorry, the world can't have me without my Christ!
- Simple Living -

Poora Aaram - 90s Recap - Hindi Gospel Pop by Domenic M


No Money??

Board: Pastor, but we don't have the money!!!
Pastor: Does that "we" also include God?

- Simple Living -

What Will Happen To Those Who Have Not Heard the Gospel?

The question is usually approached through an analysis of the three major views regarding other faiths. We can't accommodate that discussion here, but let me point some of my earlier writings that deal with the views, viz pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism or particularism as preferably known.

Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Three Divisions of Philosophical Theology
Poll Results: Are all Mission Fields "Harvest Fields"?

There is also an extension of this discussion around the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism; the Calvinist stance usually maintaining that salvation is the sovereign act of God that involves divine predestination, unconditional election, and irresistible salvific grace. Some may see that such a view can render the preaching of the gospel meaningless, as in the voice of the man who countered Carey's proposal to evangelize the heathen: "Sit down, young man, if God wants to save the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine!" However, Calvinists affirm that the preaching of the Gospel is much more obligatory because God has appointed it as the means of conveying the Gospel. One may see that the view of divine sovereignty in human salvation will play an important role in any discussion between Calvinists and Arminians (and those in that spectrum) about the condition of those who have never heard the Gospel. If God has chosen someone before the foundation of the earth to be saved, then His sovereignty will render unnecessary the discussion of what happens to those who have not had the chance to hear the Gospel. The conclusion is deductively and analytically arrived: the elect will be saved anyway in God's own sovereign way.

We'll refrain from a discussion of who's right among the both for the present. What I wish to do here is to slightly expand on a simple answer to this question given to us by one of the teachers to our Seminary, Pastor. Matthew Samuel1, several years ago. The answer is a scripture from 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8.
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We find here that there are two groups of people to be judged here: (1) Who do not know God, (2) Who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This indicates that there are two criteria of judgment since people are only responsible for what they know and not for what they do not know with regard to the way of salvation. Thus, those who have not had the opportunity to hear the Gospel will be judged in accordance to their faith in (knowledge of) God. Will they be saved then? Yes, those who believe in the Gospel of salvation through faith in the salvific work of God. This means that the Gospel is available to all people everywhere in some form or the other, though not in the form that the New Testament teaches; and they are obliged towards it with the same force as the Israelites were obliged to the Gospel they heard in the Old Testament.

Some may ask, did the Israelites have the Gospel? The answer is, yes, though not in the form of the Revelation of Jesus Christ that we have today. Yet, the Gospel was able to save them by faith in Jesus Christ even in the Old Testament. See the following scriptures:
just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:6-9)
The Bible tells us here that it was Scripture that preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, and that he was justified by faith.
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (1Corinthians 10:1-4)
We are told here that the Israelites did experience the salvation of Christ in the Old Testament. But, of course, many of them were not able to enter the rest of God because of their unbelief:
the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
"So I swore in My wrath,
"They shall not enter My rest,"'
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:2-3)
Interestingly, we are told here that "the gospel was preached to us as well as to them", i.e. the Israelites. The RSV has a better rendering the "good news came to us just as to them". Thus, there is not a qualitative difference with regard to salvation at all: "the works were finished from the foundation of the world."

Now, with regard to the "knowledge of God", Paul tells us in his epistle to the Romans that God has revealed Himself to all people of the world in, at least, two ways, and people are judged with regard to what they do with this knowledge:

(1) God has revealed Himself, His nature, to people through the things He has made.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. (Romans 1:19-21)
This Self-revelation of God, specifically in each persons understanding, leaves them "without excuse".

See also Acts 14:17

(2) God has revealed His Law in the hearts of all people
All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:12-16)
Paul says that the Gentiles who do by nature (Gk. phusis) what the law requires show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. In other words, God has embedded moral knowledge into the very nature of man, that is why man is inescapably a moral being. And, despite all psychological attempts to explain the nature of "conscience", the fact of the conscience as man's inner witness remains indisputable. Much has been said and written on this topic which points to its irresistible reality. Wherever man has lived, there has been a sense of morality, justice, and judgement.

The two facts, the knowledge of divine nature and the knowledge of the moral law, are not said to be something that are arrived at by reasoning. They are stated to be intrinsic to the primal experience of man.

In addition to that, the Bible also talks of divine witness among all men through various means: Melchizedek who was the Priest of the Most High, Balaam who was a prophet among the non-Israelites, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus who were chosen by God and knew Him, Epimenides of Crete who spoke to the Athenians and the Cretans, the Magi who saw the Star and came to Bethlehem. Space permits us not to speak of the many ways in which we are surprised to see that God has been dealing with His people all over the world, regardless of language or nationality. Thus, the no.1 criterion of knowing God is the primary obligation. The Greek word used there is eido which means to see with perception. It carries the sense of being godly minded, the sense of godliness. In other words, the knowers of God are actually those who seek Him. In addition, it also carries the sense of actual, intuitive, and complete knowledge in contrast to a progressive one (ginosko, The Complete Word Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates); which indicates their passing the test of being those who know God. They are the confirmed godly. In the judgement, they will receive the justice of a God-governed eternity, a godly one. The rest of the confirmed godless will receive the justice of a godless eternity, that is separation from the presence of God.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. (2Thessalonians 1:9)
It is destruction because it will be the condition of utter lawlessness (violation of law) and chaos. They will be removed from God's presence because they can't stand it owing to their final decisive state.

Concluding Remarks
1. Those who have not had the opportunity to listen to the Gospel will be judged according to their knowledge of God, and their relationship with Him. It doesn't matter which "religion" or people group they belong to, the Bible tells us that the Spirit of God is active among all people.
2. However, they do not have the experience of the blessing that those who have heard and obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ have, and which God desires all people to experience. For He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim.2:4), "to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph.4:13).
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
(Heb 11:39-40)

1Pastor Matthew Samuel (1933-2016) was a distinguished scholar, teacher, and pastor who served in India for several years before moving to New York where he served as pastor of the Elim Full Gospel Assembly. (Feb 6, 2016)

The Impact of Fort William College and the Printing Press on ModernIndian Literature

It is usually understood that modern Indian literature entered a new era in 1800 when the Fort William College was established in Calcutta and when the missionaries at Serampore brought the printing press to print Bibles in Indian vernacular languages.

G.P. Deshpande (b.1939), who served as Professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, noted in his essay "Dialectics of Defeat" (First published in Economic and Political Weekly, 12 December 1987):
"The singlemost important intervention that colonialism made in the cultural life of India over the last two centuries was the establishment of Fort William College in Calcutta in 1800... The College, established by the East India Company to train its administrators in the languages of India, provided facilities for teaching Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Hindustani, Bangla, Tamil, Marathi, and Kannada.... Close to Calcutta, in Srirampur, missionaries had established the first printing press and begun publishing theological works such as the Dharma Pustak, a Bangla translation of the Bible.
"Any account of literary movements in colonial India will have to give due credit to the role played by these institutions in the new literature and theatre that grew and developed in the whole of India in the nineteenth century."
[Dialectics of Defeat, Calcutta: Seagull, 2006, pp.12-16. ISBN: 81-7046-279-7]

Similarly, Swapan Majumdar has written:
The College of Fort William emerged as both a centre of research and a publication unit, a cradle of creativity as well as scholarship. Planned originally to train probationer British civilians in the languages and cultures of the subjugated country, the college rendered services tantamount to those of a university in promoting modern Indian literatures, Bengali in particular… Under the leadership of William Carey, the College could also claim credit for drawing together Sanskrit pandits and Perso-Arabic munshis to reshape Bengali prose… The variety of the College’s publication also deserve note. From colloquies and popular stories, chronicles and legends, to definitive editions of literary texts.
[Calcutta, the Living City, Vol. I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p. vii, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1. As found cited on Wikipedia article "Fort William College" today]

Life was sparked into the vernacular literature which saved Indian literature and theatre from death. "With the decline of Sanskrit as an instrument of cultural expression," writes Deshpande, "several things died out. The most notable casualty was the decline and eventual eclipse of theatre..."
"British intervention in the field of literature, therefore, could not have come at a more appropriate time. Fort William College began its work by standardizing the languages it was teaching--it first compiled and published dictionaries in those languages.... British rule contributed to the growth of the Indian vernaculars by turning them into useful and usable instruments of statecraft.... The dominance of Persian in most parts of northern India as a language of high culture and high administration finally came to an end. The British started schools in the native languages.... by the middle of the nineteenth century there were more Marathi medium schools in Maharashtra than ever. Fort William College also worked on rendering the Hitopades, the Panchatantra, the Vetal Panchavimsati and other popular Sanskrit works into Indian vernaculars. In so doing, the pandits in its monopoly opened new vistas before the 'natives' in the use of their languages.... India was forced into a new era...."

Deshpande goes on to note how the impact of English even altered the syntax of Indian languages. For instance, a Marathi speaker would never have earlier said, "I told him that I would meet him at 7 p.m.". The traditional way to say this would have been "I would meet him at 7 p.m., I told him."

In north India, Hindi with the Devanagiri script emerged as the language of cultural expression.

India found a new release of expression in the living and local languages of the day. It entered its modern era of literature.

Epistemology of God

This page contains notes and quotes apart from posts published on the blog. Following are links to some important posts related to the topic:

Notes & Quotes

Empirical Theologies
St. Athanasius, The Incarnation
For what other form do they give them by sculpture but that of men and women and of creatures lower vet and of irrational nature, all manner of birds, beasts both tame and wild, and creeping things, whatsoever land and sea and the whole realm of the waters produce? For men having fallen into the unreasonableness of their passions and pleasures, and unable to see anything beyond pleasures and lusts of the flesh, inasmuch as they keep their mind in the midst of these irrational things, they imagined the divine principle to be in irrational things, and carved a number of gods to match the variety of their passions. 2. For there are with them images of beasts and creeping things and birds, as the interpreter of the divine and true religion says, “They became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things, wherefore God gave them up unto vile passions.” For having previously infected their soul, as I said above, with the irrationalities of pleasures, they then came down to this making of gods; and, once fallen, thenceforward as though abandoned in their rejection of God, thus they wallow [7] in them, and portray God, the Father of the Word, in irrational shapes. 3. As to which those who pass for philosophers and men of knowledge s among the Greeks, while driven to admit that their visible gods are the forms and figures of men and of irrational objects, say in defence that they have such things to the end that by their means the deity may answer them and be made manifest; because otherwise they could not know the invisible God, save by such statues and rites.
Theology vs Rationalism and Empiricism
Gavin Hyman, “Atheism in Modern History”, Michael Martin (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, 2007, p. 35
“One consequence of these attempts [of Descartes (rationalism) and Locke (empiricism)] to transplant a theological concept into fundamentally atheological frameworks was a conception of theism that was susceptible to attack on two particular fronts. First, a consistent rationalism or empiricism seemed to disallow any substantive knowledge of God, and, second, if a concept of God was developed, it seemed to be little more than a hypostatization of rational concepts or empirical realities. Indeed, these vulnerabilities were brought into sharp focus by Hume and Kant in the first place and by Feuerbach and Marx in the second.”

Creed of the 21st Century Christian

  1. We believe in One God, irrespective of nation, language, or creed. He is the Creator of all that is visible and invisible and is the God of all nations.

  2. We believe in the Holy Community of the Divine Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  3. We believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, who by virtue of His pre-existent divine nature (uncreated) could not be born (created) of any human union, but incarnated as the Son of Man by the power of the Holy Spirit once for all.

  4. We believe in the equality, dignity, and fraternity of all humans, made from one blood and created in the very image of God (Slavery, Racialism, and all forms of anti-human discriminations are contrary to the divine order).

  5. We believe in the equality and sanctity of the human sexes, created by God in His own image and likeness, created as male and female.

  6. We believe that marriage is divinely instituted by God as a covenant between one man and a woman, and whom God has joined no man shall put asunder (Polygamy and Divorce are alien to God’s original institution in Genesis 1 and 2).

  7. We believe in the Fatherhood of God, who especially is concerned for the poor, the unprivileged, the oppressed, the widows, and the orphans and seeks the Brotherhood of Christ to also be concerned for the same.

  8. We believe that all humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and is totally incapable of redeeming itself by any means within the world.

  9. We believe in One Savior, Jesus Christ, His Eternal Priesthood, His Atoning and Sacrificial Death for the sins of all humanity, His Resurrection from the dead, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, where He continues to make intercession for us as the Faithful High Priest, and His Second Coming for the salvation of all who believe in Him.

  10. We believe in the divine inspiration, total inerrancy, and finality of the Holy Bible communicated to us through the Holy Prophets and the Holy Apostles of Jesus Christ.

  11. We believe in the Unity of the Church as the Body of Christ, spiritually united in faith by the Name, the Word, and the Glory of the Father through Jesus Christ.

  12. We believe in the ministry of prayer (in the One Name), the word (of the One Revelation), and worship (ascribing God the Glory due His Name) in Spirit and in Truth.

  13. We believe that the Nation of Israel, as a people, has a Covenantal and Historical significance in the plan of God for the nations.

  14. We believe in the Ministry of Reconciliation in the power and administration of the Holy Spirit (not by carnal means) to reconcile the world to God through word and deed.

  15. We believe that Christ will come again soon to usher in His Kingdom, for the salvation of those all who believe, for the redemption of their body, and the deliverance of all creation from the bondage of corruption.

  16. We believe in the Final Judgment of the world when all thoughts, words, and deeds will be uncovered before the Judge of the Universe. The confirmed godless will receive the justice of a godless eternity and the confirmed godly will receive the justice of a God-governed eternity.


29 Ways to Cultural Change According to Raimon Panikkar

In his paper "Indic Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism" (K. Pathil (ed), Religious Pluralism, ISPCK, 1991, pp. 252-299), R. Panikkar points out 29 ways in which cultural change can be brought about. Below is a short outline of them:

Cultural change can be brought about by:

1. Growth. It comes from a natural exchange with the surrounding cultures. Growth comes from within, but it is nourished from the outside.
2. Development. Its meaning extends from a shared belief generating compulsory practices transforming "social relations and nature into commodities to be bought and sold on the market" (Gilbert Rist) to any type of social progress according generally to modern Western standards.
3. Evolution. It implies a change promoted by a more or less natural selection of cultural values. The fittest culture, that is well adapted, will survive.
4. Involution. It expresses the retrieval from more recent changes, in one particular society, because the latter changes are seen as a denial of the own cultural identity. It is a resistance to the extrinsic pressure of allegedly foreign cultural values.
5. Renovation. It is the attempt at renewal from within the culture itself.
6. Reconception. It is re-interpretation or creative hermeneutics by means of which the culture enlarges its own interpretation so as to be able to include other forms which until then seemed incompatible with orthodox ways.
7. Reform. It implies that something has gone wrong with the culture and stresses the need for reform. The impulse is generally endogenous, although a "prophet" is normally needed in order to trigger the reaction.
8. Innovation. It relates to the former with an emphasis on exogenous factors bringing about the renewal. While renovation looks back to the sources of a culture, innovation is more sensitive to the present.
9. Revivalism. It attempts to revive some aspects of a particular culture that are thought to have died through the passing of time.
10. Revolution. It entails an upside down of the cultural values produced generally by some small "party" of either endogenous or exogenous character.
11. Mutation. It implies a certain rupture in cultural patterns (brought about by revolutions or other causes like wars, catastrophes, etc).
12. Progress. It refers to a somewhat peaceful cultural change with a positive value.
13. Diffusion. It is used to express the inner vitality of a particular culture which by its own dynamics tends successfully to penetrate into neighbouring cultures.
14. Osmosis. Almost synonymous with the previous one. It is a physical name suggesting that the cultural influence proceeds in one particular direction due to the superior or more powerful character of the influencing culture.
15. Borrowing. Relates to the two previous ones and suggests an adoption of foreign cultural values because they are found "useful" to the borrowing culture. The impulse is from within and unrelated to external pressures.
16. Eclecticism. It generally denotes a choice (eklego, I select, choose) of different ideas or practices belonging to different systems, religions or cultures.
17. Syncretism. It implies a fusion similar to the previous one, but not by virtue of a conscious choice but as a result of historical inertia or a fruit of the spontaneity of the spirit.
18. Modernization. It particularly refers to the adoption of the present day "modern" values which, having originated in one particular culture, are presented or seen, with or without reason, as capable of bringing the host culture "up to date".
19. Indigenization. It goes in almost the opposite direction to the previous one. It involves a culture's getting rid of its customary garb and adopt the indigenous cultural forms of the culture in which it happens to live.
20. Adaptation. It is a kind of adjustment to the host culture for different motives like survival, influence, merger, etc.
21. Accommodation It connotes a certain acceptance of the foreign value for the sake of a peaceful co-existence or simply tranquility.
22. Adoption. It connotes a conscious introduction of the external idea, symbol or practice for the benefit of the host culture.
23. Translation. The transforming powers of cultural change brought about by literary translations.
24. Conversion. Cultural change brought about by religious conversion.
25. Transformation. It refers to the internal change of the basic structure of a culture.
26. Fecundation. It suggests an internal cultural change due to an external seed which has been introduced into the host culture and given birth to a new type of self-understanding and ultimately of culture.
27. Acculturation. Overtaken popularity after the failure of the word enculturation. In its most general sense it is used when a particular cultural group lives in constant contact with another one. Or it can also indicate a conscious effort at producing such a homogenization.
28. Inculturation. Used in preference to the above. Panikkar suggests to reserve this to indicate the conscious effort at adopting another culture.
29. Interculturation. The word was introduced in 1980 by Bishop Joseph Blomjous. The very word underlines a two-way traffic, and underscores partnership and mutuality.

Three Divisions of Philosophical Theology

Also discussed as "God of the Rationalist or God of the Empiricists" at

Philosophical theology can be basically divided into three classes: Rationalist theology, Empirical theology, and Intermediate Theology.

Rationalist Theology includes isms such as monism (e.g. Parmenides and Zeno) and non-dualism (Advaitins of India) whose assertions are usually supported by arguments that rationally dismiss experience as false and irrational. This they do with reference to ultimate concepts such as unity, necessity, infinity, immutability, and transcendence (none of which can be predicated of the things of experience). Thus, God becomes the "wholly other" transcendent reality that can only be talked about via negativa.

Empirical Theology, on the other hand, is quite the opposite of the previous. It actually brings religion down to the earth. The gods and goddesses are more human like, and earthly; and, of course, positively understandable in empirical categories. Animism and polytheism are examples of such. In some of them, there is the concept of a Creator who, however, only creates out of pre-existing material. The atheistic religion, Jainism, is more a pluralistic realism in itself and has no place for any special creator God. They retain the idea of the world (including gods, if any) as pluralistic, contingent, finite, mutable, and immanent. Empiricism usually attempts to jettison the rational (e.g. the Logical Positivists attempt to eradicate metaphysics).

Kant tried to bring some union between the two poles.

Intermediate Theology, then would be something that stands at the meeting place of Rationalist Theology and Empirical Theology. The nature of the union may be diverse. I guess we can classify pantheism, panentheism, and probably Buddhist nihilism as the intermediates somewhere between the gods of the mountains (reason) and the gods of the valleys (down to earth experience). Historically speaking, in India, the Buddhist revolt is sandwiched between a very materialistic and Vedic polytheistic age and the Upanishadic non-dualistic age.

A fourth form of theology, however, is Revelational Theology, which doesn't fall in the field of Philosophical Theology, since it is not founded on philosophical arguments (either on rational or empirical) but is based on some kind of "Divine Revelation". Systematic theologians usually use a branch of theology called apologetics to provide arguments for this, a branch which is usually called Natural Theology.

Note: Barth and Brunner usually had referred to Natural Theology as the same as Philosophical Theology (and Barth is noted for calling Natural Theology as demonic.)  However, as Mortimer J. Adler has shown, the two are actually distinct. We see that Philosophical Theology usually leads to other conclusions that those affirmed by Revelational Theology.

Note (15 June 2012): John Hick, however, had interpreted Philosophical Theology as the philosophy of the Christian (See quote below from Dialogues in the Philosophy of Religion, 2001, p7):
"these developments, which are technically superb and constitute
impressive philosophical exercises, are however seriously limited, in my
opinion, by very conservative theological presuppositions. They belong
to philosophy of religion in the now old-fashioned sense in which this
is understood to be the philosophy of the Christian (or at most the
Judaeo-Christian) tradition, and they do not face the problems created
by the fact that Christianity is one major world religion among others.
Indeed Alston, Plantinga, Swinburne and the many others who are
working solely within the confines of their own tradition are for the
most part really doing philosophical theology rather than philosophy
of religion."

Intermediate Theologies usually tend towards either rationalism (where all sense-experience (phenomenal reality) is deemed illusory) or tend towards empiricism (where contingency, plurality, immanence, et al. become important themes).

Follow the complete thread of discussion at Philpapers.

Rational Fideism and the Concept of God: Can God Be Rational and YetExperienced?

From Epistemics of Divine Reality, © 2007, 2009, 2011. (Available in Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Ibookstores)

Rational Fideism and Divine Reality

The results show that divine reality cannot be known except through a revelation of itself. For this to be possible, divine reality must at least be personal and concerned. Further, a knowledge of divine reality must not be either purely rational (in the sense that the rational attributes[1] are the divine attributes) or empirical (in the sense that the empirical attributes[2] are the divine attributes). If it is purely rational, then it would mean the negation of the empirical, as demonstrated by the arguments of both Zeno and Gaudapada. If it is purely empirical, then it would mean the negation of the rational, as demonstrated by the theological positions of animism, polytheism, pantheism, and panentheism; and the non-theological positions of skepticism, logical positivism, and mysticism.

A rational fideistic epistemics of divine reality expects the harmonizing of, but not fusion of, reason and experience. This means achieving a harmony of the rational-empirical attributes of unity-plurality, necessity-contingency, immutability-mutability, transcendence-immanence, and infinity-finitude. This means that the answer must come neither from reason nor from experience but from divine reality itself. In other words, if the divine doesn’t communicate in words there is no way of knowing it. Rational fideism presupposes on the basis of a philosophical disapproval of rational epistemics and empirical epistemics that ultimate or divine reality cannot be known apart from the revelation of divine reality itself. This requires that God should be concerned enough to reveal Himself to mankind. This also means that God, in order to be the Object of faith, must not only be absolute and rational in His essence,[3] but also empirical and ‘visible’ in His relation, without which one cannot relate to God.

Thus, reason and faith come into stage; reason as the interpreter of revelation, and faith as the appropriator of revelation. This also means that revelation finds a recipient dimension in the subject. The recipient dimension is the existentiality of human reality. It is the subjective dimension of divine epistemics. Existentiality refers to the human concern and reflection on existence itself; Being becomes a concern for the human. Such a human is referred to as Being-as-care in this research work. The concern is reflected in the passion, thirst, and longing that is experienced in the existential emotions of emptiness, anxiety, boredom, rootlessness, and bewilderment. These existential emotions may be linked to the metaphysical disharmony between reason and experience, a condition that cannot be resolved by either but only by ultimate of divine reality. The revelation of divine reality, consequently, forms the objective dimension of divine epistemics. The enquiry is rational fideistic in the sense that faith is seen as supported by reason and reason is seen as supported by faith. Reason can only function on the basis of faith, and faith can only see and understand with the aid of reason. Revelation, not experience, provides the data for the rational enquiry. Faith is also the thrust of human existentiality towards the discovery of the truth of divine reality. Faith brings subjective meaning. However, such subjective meaning would be anchorless if it had no absolute objective dimension to it. Further, doubt can lead to despair if faith is renounced. Therefore, a balance between the will-to-believe and the will-to-doubt must be achieved through the judgmental spirit of reason. Reason establishes the credibility of the objective dimension of faith, viz., Revelation. Divine reality is seen to be both essentially and empirically rational and relational. The rational-empirical harmonization is understood by the existential nature of human faith. In divine reality, one finds the rational ground in which one can anchor one’s faith and find both the rational and existential meaningfulness of life. Thus, rational fideism becomes the epistemics of harmony that seeks to ground the existential dimension of human reality in the objective dimension of divine reality based on and through the harmonious co-operation of reason and faith.

Each religion has its own revelation as inscribed in its own scriptures. It is not our concern here to study each of the various religious scriptures to come to the conclusion regarding divine reality. The purpose has been chiefly to provide a philosophical tool for theological enquiry. Illustrations of the existential application of the rational fideistic interpretation of biblical revelation have already been cited in the section of the subjective dimension of divine epistemics. Following is an illustration of how the rational-empirical paradox may be resolved in the biblical revelation of divine reality:

i. Unity-Plurality and Divine Tri-unity. The biblical God is essentially a unity-plurality that possibilizes his relationality. He is not a monad, nor is the God-head made up of three gods. On the other hand, the God-head is a trinity. Accordingly, oneness is the attribute of the three and threeness is the attribute of the one. Thus, the Trinity is seen as a harmony of both unity and plurality, in the sense that the Trinity is both a unity and a plurality. It is not one at the disposal of the other, but one in harmony with the other. The existential bond of the Divine Community is secured by Divine Love. The existential distinction is preserved by personality, the divine is three persons, which is the condition of love.

ii. Necessity-Contingency.  God is essentially a necessary-contingent being which possibilizes his relationality. As necessary, God is absolute; as contingent, the three persons within the Godhead work in unamity and love. There is no egoistic centre. Contingency can be seen within the Holy Trinity in the sense that each person within the Divine Community is related to the other.

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

…The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

…the Spirit of truth…shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. [4]

iii. Immutability-mutability. God is essentially immutable and dynamic which possibilizes his relationality. He is the eternally unchanging God. And yet, He ‘comes down’ to meet His people, He ‘visits’ the poor, He walks on the waves of the sea, and discourses with man in His inner being. The Bible begins with an acting God: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’[5] A God who works is a God in motion. God is certainly the God who doesn’t change in essence. However, He is also the God who creates, repents, judges, and saves. The Incarnation is a major example of this. In the Incarnation God did not change in essence but still took on a permanent nature of the human. The Word became flesh doesn’t mean that it was no longer Word but only flesh. The hypostatic union, in this case, secures both the divinity and the humanity of Christ. The noteworthy fact, however, is that the Word became flesh in some point in time and has remained so ever since. Thus, in essence God is unchanging but in His relation He is changing. He is essentially unchanging God who is dynamically active.

iv. Transcendence-Immanence. God is essentially a transcendent and yet immanent being which possibilizes his relationality. God is not only beyond the universe but also in the universe. He is not only Spirit but also the Omnipresent Spirit. He is not only the ‘wholly Other’, but also the ‘wholly Present’; ‘the mystery of the self-evident, nearer to me than my I.[6] God is everywhere and yet not everything. God transcends the universe, He is not the universe. In contradistinction to the pantheistic and panentheistic position, the biblical God, in His essentiality, is not affected by any change in the universe since He also transcends it as Spirit.

v. Infinity-finitude. God is essentially infinite and finite which possibilizes his relationality. He is infinitely infinite and infinitely finite. Therefore, the infinitely finite division of space is not devoid of the personal presence of God. God is infinite in power yet He cannot do many things, like He cannot destroy Himself or be the cause of his own destructibility as in the polytheistic myth of Bhasmasur.[7] Also, He cannot sin, nor can He justify the wicked. Thus, He cannot do many things. The infinity of God, further, does not disallow the existence of the world. Neither is the infinity of God prevented by the existence of the world. Moreover, God is also seen as involved in temporal historical time and yet transcending the temporality of historical time. Thus, God is infinite, but not in the material sense, for that would be empirically impossible. He is spiritually infinite in being, power, and knowledge. However, He can involve Himself in the finite spatio-temporal world. He cannot be contained in a temple made of bricks and stones. But He is said to indwell the heart of a believer. Thus, in divine reality the infinite-finite find harmonious co-existence.

A few illustrations of Biblical theologizing by the existential application of the principles of rational fideism have already been given in the section on the subjective dimension of divine epistemics. Hopefully, such applications will eventually serve to unravel an understanding of the divine not just in the objective dimension but also in the subjective dimension. Thus, also hopefully, the objective cognizance of God will be met by a subjective anchoring in Him. And such anchoring will constitute the substantiality of the faith in divine reality which is not of things seen (empirical) but of things unseen. Thus, according to rational fideism, in matters of knowledge pertaining to divine reality, ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’[8] Such a view of faith as not only existential but also rational will finally lead theology into a discovery of both subjective and objective meaningfulness in Revelation.

Excerpt from Conclusion

Rational fideism harmonizes reason and experience in both the objective and subjective dimension of human knowledge. In the subjective dimension, faith as impelled by the turbulence of the reason-experience paradoxical situation seeks out for the harmonizing reality that would provide existential meaning to the human to whom existence has become an issue. Faith also provides the intuitive framework within which reason experiences knowledge. In the objective dimension, Revelation (Sabda Pramana) provides the ground in which faith is expected to cast its anchor and find solace for the soul. It is reason which ascertains the objective meaningfulness of Revelation. It is faith that experiences the subjective meaningfulness of Revelation. Thus, faith and reason are involved in the ascertainment of the subjective and objective meaningfulness of Revelation. The resultant knowledge of God, though not exhaustive, is at least epistemically harmonious. God is seen as both rational and empirical in character, while at the same time personal and concerned with human reality. God is both rational and relational. To quote one biblical illustration, God is both immutable and dynamic which possibilizes his relationality; for unless he is immutable he cannot be relied on, and unless he is dynamic he cannot be experienced. This relationality of God makes it possible for man to know God. If God possessed no possibility of relationality, then He could not be concerned with human reality so as to manifest Himself. This relationality also provides the basis for man to existentially relate himself to God, while God’s essential rationality provides the anchoring ground for faith. This relationality shows that God is personal (for reciprocal relationship to be possible) and concerned. He is concerned with human reality; therefore He reveals Himself to man.

[1] Viz., unity, necessity, immutability, transcendence, and infinity.
[2] Viz., plurality, contingency, mutability, immanence, and finitude.
[3] Cf. Heraclitus’ concept of the Logos as reason that governs the universe.
[4] John 3: 35; 5: 19; 16: 13-14 (KJV)
[5] Genesis 1: 1 (KJV)
[6] Martin Buber, I and Thou, p. 79
[7] Bhasmasur, a demon, was given the boon of turning to ashes anything by laying of hands; however, he in turn attempted to lay his hands on the god who gave him the boon which made the god take to his heels to protect himself from destruction.
[8] Hebrews 11: 1 (KJV)

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2007, 2009, 2011.

What is Theology? Its Divisions with Short Descriptions

Published in REVIVE, May 2012 (Malayalam Edition)

A simple and literal definition of “theology” would be “the science of divine things”. It comes from two Greek words theos meaning “God” and logia meaning “discourse or speech”. In modern times, it is the stream of knowledge that differentiates the secular pursuit of knowledge from the sacred one because of its starting point: all secular studies begin with reason and experience while theology begins with faith. The starting point for all extra-theological studies is the world (Latin: saeculum); the starting point for theology is the Word of God. So, while one may say that theology is the study of God, the factual definition would be that theology is the science that rationally pursues the understanding of the self-revelation of God in the Scriptures.

It would be interesting to note that many of the universities had originally begun as seminaries and theology was once known as the Queen of Sciences. However, with the dawn of theAge of Enlightenment and a progressive revolt against all supernaturalism, the chasm between theology and the secular disciplines became wide.

From the academic and professional point of view, theology is the discipline that is pursued by someone who is seriously interested in entering full-time Christian ministry, having sensed the call of God. Generally, it is pursued as a study course in a Seminary; however, there are also those who aren’t able to attend a Seminary, so their chief means of education is through academic publications by experts in the various fields of theology. The biblical importance of such disciplined study is evident from the following Scriptures:

The Old Testament

Priest: “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”(Malachi 2:7)

King:“his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).

The New Testament

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15, emphasis mine)

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men,apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Timothy 2:24-26, emphasis mine)
Apparently, a study (knowledge) of the Law had to precede the application and execution of the Law. One must be a student of the Word of Truth before one can be a teacher of the Word of Truth. A Christian minister without theological education is like a medical doctor without medical education or a lawyer without knowledge of the Law. It is simply an impossible state of being. Knowledge and practice go together; and the Christian minister is specifically called to the ministry of the Word (a teaching/discipleship responsibility).
And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Act 6:2-4)
Christ had spent three and half years to teach and disciple the Apostles not in order that they would become caterers of food, but in order that they would teach others what they themselves had learnt from Christ.

Of course, the quality of the education process also matters a lot. A medical doctor with a wrong education could cause havocs. A pilot without aeronautics (or proper application of the science) can cause death to his passengers. It is with a sad note that we read something like this:
“When the rule of Rehobo’am was established and was strong, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.” (2Chronicles 12:1)

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. “(Hosea 4:6, emphasis mine)

In summary, by “theology” we understand the science and discipline required for a proper execution of the ministry of the Word. In modern times, the Seminary provides the best resources for the pursuit of this discipline; however, a person can also avail of scholarly publications geared for theological knowledge. Yet, theology is simply a tool that is lifeless when not combined with practical faith and proper application. Even the devil has lot of theological information, but he is the devil simply because he can’t have faith in the Truth; he chose to be the father of lies. Theology devoid of faith is diabolical.

Theology Vs Heresy

It is important here to establish the difference between theology in its pure form and heresy, which is its corruption. A heresy is a corruption of dogma and departure from biblical faith through invalid argumentations on scripture. The Apostles warned against heretics who usually corrupt truth because of sensual mindedness and illogical twisting of scriptures.
“in which [i.e. in the epistles of Paul] are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2Peter 3:16)

“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”(Jude 17-19)

A study of Historical Theology will show that the rise of a heretical viewpoint would usually draw the saints together to sharp discussion on what the Bible truly teaches. Thus, through logical reflection and proper application of hermeneutic (interpretation) principles, they would give formulated expression to a doctrinal truth that wasn’t propositionally stated earlier. For instance, in the third century, when a Bishop called Arius began to teach that Jesus was not God but was a created being, a proper and systematic study of the Bible helped the other Church leaders oppose his teaching and give formulated expression to the doctrine of Trinity.

Thus, we see that heresy has its origins in people who are not only “untaught” but also are “unstable” and “sensual”. In other words, on the contrary, proper training, stability or rootedness in sound doctrine, and spirituality are essential to a servant of God so that he/she can “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Divisions of Theology

The chief theological divisions are four in number:

1. Biblical Theology:It is a study of the theology of the Old Testament and the New Testament involving also a study of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It involves exegetical studies of the biblical text in the original languages.
Old Testament Theology is usually divided into six periods: Theology of the (1) Edenic Era (2) Noahic Era (3) Patriarchal Era (4) Mosaic Era (5) Monarchial Era and (6) Prophetic Era.

New Testament Theology is usually divided into seven thoughts: Theology of (1) the Synoptics (2) Acts (3) James (4) Paul (5) Hebrews (6) Peter and Jude (7) John.

2. Historical Theology:It is a study of Church History and the historical development of theological concepts, teaching, and confessions. It also studies the histories of theologies and dogmatics. The main divisions are (1) Ancient Theology (1st Century-A.D. 590), (2) Medieval Theology (A.D. 590-1517), (3) Reformation Theology (1517-1750), (4) Modern Theology (1750-Present) which also involves study of Contemporary theologies such as Liberal Theology (which usually doesn’t accept the infallibility of Scriptures, sin, atonement, and the Second Return), Neo-Orthodox Theology (which emphasizes on personal faith above propositional theology and doesn’t regard historicity and infallibility of Bible as important), Radical Theology (treats Biblical accounts as mythological and assumes an atheistic texture), Liberation Theologies (Black, Feminist, Dalit, etc that look for socio-economic emancipatory themes in Biblical Theology), and Postliberal or Narrative Theology (that emphasizes on narratives above propositions and doctrine).

An understanding of the historical developments and contexts of theological formulations helps one to see a theological viewpoint in its proper perspective. At the same time, one also notices how theological viewpoints can be largely influenced by training, stability of faith, and spiritual experience. Lack of these can highly damage a theological viewpoint and stray into worldly philosophizing.

3. Systematic Theology: It is a systematic and logical presentation of the content of Christian faith (dogmatics) and the foundation of the Christian way of life (ethics). The chief disciplines within it are Apologetics (defense of faith which also involves studies in philosophy and religion), Dogmatics (content of faith), and Christian ethics. The chief divisions are Bibliology (Doctrine of the Bible), Theology Proper (Doctrine of God), Christology (Doctrine of Christ), Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit), Angelology and Demonology (Doctrine of Angels and Demons), Cosmology (Doctrine of Creation), Anthropology and Hamartiology (Doctrine of Man and Sin), Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church), and Eschatology (Doctrine of Last Things).

Theology has usually been systematized with regard to dogmatic perspectives into various systems of Dogmatic Theology, some of which are as follows (1) Catholic Theology (theology of the Roman Catholic Church) (2) Calvinistic or Reformed Theology (emphasizes Sovereignty of God, Predestination, Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of Saints), (3) Arminian Theology (emphasizes on Freewill, Original Sin, and Universal Atonement, and personal responsibility), (4) Covenant Theology (views theology from the perspective of God’s Covenant of Works with Adam and His Covenant of Grace with the Elect. Some also talk of the Covenant of Redemption, but it is not to be considered different from the Covenant of Grace), (5) Dispensational Theology (that looks at theology from the perspective of God’s division of human history into various dispensations of time emphasizing on salvation by grace through faith. The literal method of interpretation and maintaining a distinction between the Church and the nation of Israel are crucial to Dispensational Theology), (6) Renewal (Pentecostal/Charismatic) Theology (emphasizes on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the spirit-filled life, the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and Power Evangelism).

In recent times, advocates of Narrative Theology have expressed dissatisfaction with systematization of biblical revelation into propositions or dogmas. However, one understands that the statements of faith and the propositions of Truth revealed by God cannot be disregarded. God’s revelation is both personal and propositional.

With regard to classing Apologetics as a discipline of Systematic Theology, I think Mortimer J. Adler was right to a great extent when he observed that the Natural Theology that Systematic Theologians talk about is nothing but apologetics from a Christian vantage point. It is not pagan at all, despite the fact that it makes use of natural reason to defend the faith of Scripture. However, there is another stream of Theology that is closely connected to the Philosophy of Religion, and it is called Philosophical Theology. Philosophical Theology, according to Adler, differs from Sacred or Dogmatic Theology in the sense that it is a theology based on philosophical reasoning rather than on the revelation of God. It is usually pagan in its origin and purely philosophical in nature. Thus, whenever a Christian theologian attempts to provide a rational basis for a theological tenet of faith, he engages not in philosophical theology but in apologetics and, what is generally known as, natural theology.

4. Practical Theology: It is the theological study of ministerial practice. The chief disciplines within it are Worship (Liturgy), Sermon (Homiletics), Pastoral Care (Poimenik), Community Care (Diakonie), Administration and Leadership (Cybernetics), Educational Work in School and Community (Pedagogy of Religion), and Missiology (A study of the nature, history, purpose, and procedure of Missions).

Which Theology is Right?

This question is often asked with reference to dogmatic theologies and some of the contemporary theologies. There are, at least, three chief criteria to judging the validity of methodology and argumentation of a theology:

1. Self-Consistency. Theological study is a peculiar discipline in its own right. It has its own methodology, source of information, and objectives. One can’t apply the historical method to biology. One doesn’t study plants and animals in order to study history. Similarly, any method of theological study that doesn’t conform to proper and practical theological principles of research is inconsistent to its very nature. For example, Science is basically materialistic and deterministically oriented. Therefore, supernatural events and miracles cannot be accepted by it (as they fall beyond its rangeof possibilities). Of course, one cannot dissect the divine in a laboratory room. Attempting to apply science (in its materialistic and deterministic form) to Bible can result in unnatural consequences. A theology that doesn’t naturally conform to its nature is unnatural and false. Also, we have stated earlier that theology begins with the Bible. Therefore, any theology that has undermined or undervalued the Bible has actually cut away the branch on which it was sitting. It is lost.

At the same time, consistency also means that the argumentation (interpretation) is not fallacious and doesn’t commit logical blunders but is consistent throughout. It must be consistent in form and nature.

2. Doctrinal Coherence.Truth in essence cannot be diversified. It is a unity. Therefore, theological conclusions cannot contradict known truths. It must be able to produce a coherent worldview of true beliefs about God, the world, man, sin, salvation, and final things.

3. Practical Consequences. Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruits. Similarly, a theology is known by the results it produces. What kind of a believer does it produce? How is it profitable for the Church as the Body of Christ? Are its conclusions practical? The Scripture is not given for vain speculation but for spiritual edification.

Finally, one must remember that theology is only the study of and interpretation of divine truths communicated in Scripture. Therefore, it is not exhaustive and terminal. The study continues.

Recommended Resources
Berkhof, Louis. The History of Christian Doctrines, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1937.
Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology, Chicago: Moody Press, 1989.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.
House, H. Wayne.Charts of Christian Theology & Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.
Pearlman, Myer. Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible, Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1995.
Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology, Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1988.

Miley Mujhe Aisa Yaar (Hindi Pop) - Domenic Marbaniang


Poll Results: Are all Mission Fields Harvest Fields?

On Monday, April 30, I started a poll on the following question:

Jesus said: "The fields are ripe for harvest... I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." (Jn 4:35,38) DOES IT APPLY 2 NON-JUDEO LANDS AS WELL? They don't need preparation and sowing? Rather, they are as equally ripe for harvest as Judea-Samaria was because of previous labor by somebody (local indigenous religions and prophets!)?

A total of 18 votes were cast with the following main results:

YES = 9
I believe it wherever the gospel is preached and people respond. = 5
NO = 1

One Scholar responded saying: "I think God's Spirit is at work with all people all the time through various way, and sundry ways as Hebrews says. hence they are ready for harvest... but the church is too slow to go."

A Pastor responded saying: "I do believe that even in the remotest areas, the fields are already ripe. First, the Holy Spirit goes before us in all work. He has broken the soil of the hearts and souls so that we can plant the seed. Also, many areas that are not evangelized may have been at one time. Look at Europe, for example, it is now a rich mission field for those who are willing to enter into the labor. And this despite the fact that at one time it sent missionaries out into the field."

Concluding Remarks:
The results do show that we have a positive outlook towards the mission field and the work of God trans-religious barriers. We do find a rich example in the birth of Christ Himself. God chose what the Magi knew, their terminological setting (astrology) to tell them about Christ (despite the fact that astrology was prohibited in the Old Testament -- it is not acceptable in NT too). Missionary biographies reveal how missionaries were amazed to find their mission field not to be totally strange but well ready for the Gospel. Among some, the link would perhaps be a prophetic tradition, while among others some sacred book; among others it would be the writing system of their language itself, while among others it would be a certain ritual. Thus, in various ways and at various times, God did speak to people of every tongue and tribe. Don Richardson's ETERNITY IN THEIR HEARTS provides great insights in this field as to how God speaks to people trans-nationally and has prepared them for the Gospel. We only need to trust the Spirit to reveal to us the language in which we can speak to them. The field is truly ripe for the harvest. In fact, it has been so for the past 2000+ years.

The Benefits of Drawing Close to God

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8)

He is not far from any of us, but unless one turns towards God one is still far from Him.

1. The Only Way to Be Able To See God Better is To Get Closer To Him.

We never get any good view of anything from far.

Though God is close to each one of us, unless we turn our hearts to get closer to Him, we won't be able to see Him in our lives. But, the moment we turn to Him the veil is removed and we get into the Spirit and become free, reflecting His very glory (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).

Walking in the light is like the choice of turning the lights on or off. One moment we can be in the fullness of light, the very next moment in pitch darkness. Remember Peter, how for a moment he was praised because he spoke by divine revelation that Jesus was the Son of God, but the very next moment he had to be rebuked with the words "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23). It is drawing near to God that makes all the difference.

Psalm 73: The story of how Asaph experienced bitterness and frustration when he turned his eyes towards the world, despite the fact that he lived in the Temple of God. He confessed "I was near You, and yet became a beast" (Psalm 73:22, acc. the Hindi Version). However, he found the answer when he entered the sanctuary of the Lord and determined "it is good for me to draw near to God" (73:28).

When it seems He is nowhere around, remember it's time to get closer to God.

2. In His Presence is Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11).

When we're in God's presence, there will not be any reason to be joyless. Lack of joy is sign of something missing in our lives. Is something blocking our getting closer to Him? When life is not productive, it becomes joyless. King Solomon was successful in every way the world might think a man could be successful. He had wealth, wisdom, riches, and honor. He was more intelligent than any one on earth. He was the best ruler on earth. He did great works of construction, unparalleled in history, and wrote books. However, at the end of all he found his life and works to be a total emptiness. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" he cried out in the book of Ecclesiastes. Worldly success didn't give him joy. Finally, he found the answer in drawing closer to God and finding true fulfillment in the worship and service of Him. Unless our lives are useful for God, we have only labored in vain.

Jesus said that the Father wants us to be fruitful, and fruitfulness and the fullness of joy go together (John 15:8,11). A woman experiences such great joy when she gives birth to a baby, that she forgets all her pain. However, there cannot be any fruitfulness unless we abide in the Vine, i.e. stay closer and connected with Him. Remember, unless our all belongs to Him, His all cannot belong to us. That is the beauty of connection. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

3. There is Perfect Rest in the Presence of the Lord.

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).

Many times people make religion so complicated and filled with things that it all becomes a big burden. However, Jesus taught us that religion is not what God is all about. Jesus didn't come to create a new world religion; He came to bring back God's children back to the Father. It's as simple as that. Christianity is just one single fact: God's relationship with man and His call to draw closer to Him.

Let me quote a few confessions by Bear Grylls (well known for his adventurous series called "Man Vs Wild"). I take the following quotes from his blog:

As a young kid, I had always found that a faith in God was so natural. It was a simple comfort to me: unquestioning and personal.

But once I went to school and was forced to sit through somewhere in the region of nine hundred dry, Latin-liturgical, chapel services, listening to stereotypical churchy people droning on, I just thought that I had got the whole faith deal wrong.

Maybe God wasn’t intimate and personal but was much more like chapel was … tedious, judgemental, boring and irrelevant.

The irony was that if chapel was all of those things, a real faith is the opposite. But somehow, and without much thought, I had thrown the beautiful out with the boring. If church stinks, then faith must do, too.

The precious, natural, instinctive faith I had known when I was younger was tossed out with this newly found delusion that because I was growing up, it was time to ‘believe’ like a grown-up.

I mean, what does a child know about faith?

It took a low point at school, when my godfather, Stephen, died, to shake me into searching a bit harder to re-find this faith I had once known.

Life is like that. Sometimes it takes a jolt to make us sit and remember who and what we are really about.

Stephen had been my father’s best friend in the world. And he was like a second father to me. He came on all our family holidays, and spent almost every weekend down with us in the Isle of Wight in the summer, sailing with Dad and me. He died very suddenly and without warning, of a heart attack in Johannesburg.

I was devastated.

I remember sitting up a tree one night at school on my own, and praying the simplest, most heartfelt prayer of my life.

‘Please, God, comfort me.’

Blow me down … He did.


To me, my Christian faith is all about being held, comforted, forgiven, strengthened and loved – yet somehow that message gets lost on most of us, and we tend only to remember the religious nutters or the God of endless school assemblies.


Faith in Christ has been the great empowering presence in my life, helping me walk strong when so often I feel so weak. It is no wonder I felt I had stumbled on something remarkable that night up that tree.

I had found a calling for my life.


Do Not Worry - A Poem

Do not worry for you're in your Father's care,
Do not worry for worry'll get you nowhere --
Worry won't make you grow an inch tall,
Worry can't save anyone from fall;
Worry only adds to today's sorrow;
So, let worry be banished to tomorrow.

Do not worry-- See how the lilies of the field do grow,
They neither toil nor spin, won't remain till tomorrow;
But, today, are more gorgeously dressed than Solomon was in all his grandeur.

So, do not worry 'bout what you will eat or wear,
See how the Father feeds all the birds of the air.
He decks the grass of the field with colors,
He watches each little one with care;
They neither toil nor spin, they neither sow nor reap,
But they're all fully replenished by what God bountifully gives.

So, trust in your Father who cares for you 24/7;
And where He is there'll you'll find life's true heaven.

Matthew 6:25-34

© Domenic Marbaniang, May 3, 2012.

11 Lessons from the Journey of Israel

1. Exo. 14:10-12
Don't panic at your SITUATION
God is never late for SALVATION
He is the ARCHITECT of Time

2. Exo. 14:13
When all you can do is nothing, then be silent and wait patiently on the Lord
(Ps.40:1; Job)

3. Exo.14:15
When professional logic says "It is impossible", God will lead you to do what seems crazy and impossible; because God's crazy ways are remarkable.
(walking on water! mud-spit....)
--However, waiting doesn't mean doing nothing (Keep preparing, practicing)

4. Exo. 15:22-27
When you face a problem, choose what you'll let it do to you, make you.
- You didn't choose the problem, but you can choose your reactions
- You can't control times, but you can compose your responses
- You either turn pain into profanity or into poetry, the choice is yours (Robert Schuller)

5. Exodus 16
Happiness is the balance between Vision and Commitment
Killer fantasies create lack of contentment
Commitment= Contentment + Godliness

6. Exodus 17
Faith never tests God (Heb.11:6)

7. Exodus 32
Divine silence doesn't mean He has not been active
(Remember the ram in Abraham and Isaac's story... It was climbing up from the other side, while they were on this side)
The visible is not the only reality.

8. Exodus 32:26
Your faithfulness to God alters your history and makes you distinct

9. Numbers 13
Only the Valiant and the Violent take the Kingdom of God by force.
(Eph.6:1, Matt.11:12)

10. Numbers 16
(Korah, Dathan, Abiram)
God has an authority structure, Never despise authority

11. Numbers 20
The pulpit is not the place to show your personal frustration
-Serve God as He desires, not as you feel.

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