Cleansing by Christ

CLEANSING
OT & NT
Holy Unholy; Clean & Unclean
Only the Clean can be Holy; but, in order for the clean thing to be holy, it must be sanctified by the altar.
Jesus said that the altar sanctifies the gift. The clean vessels had to be sanctified by water and blood.
For example, clean and unclean animals.....

Interestingly, about animals etc.. Jesus declared them clean by His word
Acts 10:15
And, they are sanctified made holy by word and prayer (1Tim.4:5)

Jesus made it clear that the things from outside don't make us unclean; but, uncleanness proceeds from inside and corrupts a man.
(Matt 15:11)

The OT contained shadows of the NT. It foreshadowed NT truth. In other words, material symbols were used to teach us spiritual truths.

E.g. The Temple; but, the real temple is our body.

In Jesus, the physical and the spiritual blend into unity. Col. The OT is the shadow; but, the Body is Christ.
OT - Leper unclean; Jesus cleansed (The word cleanse the lepers can be understood in physical, social, and spiritual sense too)
Dead body (unclean); Jesus raised a 4 day old corpse to life...

By His word were all things made clean; by His Word the disciples were made clean.

If we want to understand cleansing, the pictures God gave us in the OT can help us understand it a little.

In Matt 8:2, a leper came to Jesus and asked if He could heal him

The Leper was unclean according to the OT law.
Lev. 13:45 "The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, `Unclean, unclean.

Sin is like leprosy. Jesus said that sinful things come out from inside and make our vessels unclean. He wants us to be clean inside out.

1. Begins as a small spot; but, spreads.
Little Leopards become big...

2. Turns the hair white or yellow: Cannot be hid
You cannot cover it up for long.
The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.(1Tim.5:24)

3. Turns the skin insensitive
Lack of sensitivity; callous..

4. Consumes flesh
Eats up the organs one by one...
Makes ineffective

5. Contagious
Infects others

OT - No method of healing; only method of cleansing
Cleansing by Priests was just a declaration

NT- Jesus commanded His disciples to go and cleansing
The healing of Jesus has a dual effect: it heals and it also cleanses at the same time

But, still he asks to go and show to the priests.... After healing, he only tells the leper to go show to the priest as a proof.
Lev. 14: The birds; the sin offerings..
Guilt - inadvertent... Adamic
Sin - sins

There is no cleansing without blood.... The OT sacrifices were in order to declare as cleansed..
The NT sacrifice of Jesus cleanses by eliminating leprosy and sanctify .

Caveat:
Miriam - Struck with leprosy for rebelling against Moses
Gehazi - Struck with leprosy for lusting after the world and lying to God's servant (to God)
Uzziah - Struch with leprosy for disrespecting the Temple and its ordinances.

Good News:
The Story of Naaman
Skin as like child..
Lost sensitivity and innocence; He will restore...
Lost effectiveness; He will open a new door....

Remember: Sin is like leprosy... If you dread this diseases, sin is more dreadful.
But, will you ask Jesus to cleanse you
Share:

Happy Republic Day 2014 India!!



Last year, I wrote about the three F's of our great Constitution.

Our Constitution asserted our
1. FREEDOM. We were a sovereign republic.
2. FORM. The word “Constitution” itself speaks of form and identity. The Constitution declared the nature, form, and identity of the nation. It answered questions like “What is this nation?” “What is its form?” “Who is its citizen?” “Who are the officials?”
3. FUNCTION. The Constitution established the various functions of the State: of the governing officials as well as the citizens. As responsible citizens, we are called to abide by the rules of the Constitution of our nation.

Let me add another 'F' to the above:
4. FUTURE. The Constitution also foresaw a future for the nation. It was not without its futurist vision. It foresaw a nation in which all people together will enjoy Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

Citizens who are not aware of what our Constitution actually looks like can download the entire text from here.

Check this site for live updates on the celebration.

Happy Republic Day!
Share:

Sensus and Imagino (from STRANGER)


He walked groping for the ground; by which I discerned that he must be blind. He held an umbrella open in his other hand, which did slow his motion.

He crossed the road and came to where we were.

“Who is he?” Inno asked.

“Oh, so there’s really someone there?” he remarked. “A sweet little one, I presume. And who is your friend there?”

“I’m her uncle, Sir… just two of us here. It does seem to be a rather very lonely road,” I answered.

“Yes, it is. All the citizens were summoned to the Gula’s Banquet, you know. She has arranged a magnificent treat for her subjects; so, they have all herded to stomach as much as they can… By the way, if you haven’t got an umbrella, please do come under mine.”

“Thanks,” I replied as we slipped under it, “Are you on way to there?”

“Yes. I just stayed back because I didn’t want anybody to feel I was dependent. Once I knew they were all gone, I started on.”

“Do you think you’d find the way?”

“No problem. My brother, Sensus will soon be here to pick me in his car. We have a program there together anyway.” He smiled. Then, turning half-way towards me, he continued, “I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Imagination or Imagino in short, and I’m a magician by profession here. The people of this district are horribly given to surfeiting; so, I recently came up with a magical invention that would cure their surfeiting by means of magical surfing. A pouch of this powder added to any dainty brings all the power of it to sublime effect; for, what kind of experience is there more magical than that of devouring, for certainly in it is the entirety of experience realized.... Ah! A man would give up any pleasure for the pleasure of the perfect bite...., the smell of sourness that makes your tongue run its water down; the sight of the hot sweet that makes you forgetful of all promises ever; the touch of delicacy with the finger, the lips, the tongue; the insatiable taste of every serve; the sound of the gulp, bite, and the crunch… Truly, eating makes the perfect man! ” I wondered that a blind man could speak like that. But, then I remembered that in the world where I had come there were some blind men who had been the best poets indeed.

As he was speaking, a car arrived and the driver, whom I instantly could recognize as his brother, called out with a large brimming smile, “Bellies for berries and berries for bellies, Imagino… Is there anything else worthwhile?”

“Chilies for cherries and cherries for chilies, Sensus… That will make it quite worthwhile,” Imagino shouted back and they laughed together. Then, Imagino turned to me, “My brother Sensus prepares a special drink which he calls Black Berry Beer. When I add my magical powder called Chilled Chilly Cheer to it, it suddenly bursts into colors, which though I can’t see, I quite visibly know, for my vision has greater power than those who aren’t blind. You should see it when it happens. Drink that and the rest is ecstasy.”

“What kind of ecstasy? Do you know that?”

“Well,” Sensus interrupted, “It helps one see things with closed eyes, you know.”
“You mean just like in a dream?” I asked.

“What is that?” Sensus asked back, a bit puzzled.

“I mean they can see, eat, drink and enjoy things that aren’t really out there,” I mumbled.

“Well, how do you know they aren’t really out there when you really enjoy them,” Imagino countered.

“And, how do you know what you’re enjoying now is more real than what you enjoy then,” Sensus asked.

“You spend money for what you eat now; but, you perhaps don’t for the other,” I answered.

“That’s it! That’s it!” Sensus burst into laughter, growing red and pointing his finger at me. Then, he chuckled and added, “So, that’s what you call a dream, ha! But, well you do have to spend you know, for they get to eat all those things in their “dream” because they pay us for having it earlier, you see,” he raised his brow in a you-see-how-intelligent-I-am way, “It’s like pay before you eat; and we profit thereby!” He laughed again. He certainly seemed to have a remarkable sense of fun. I wondered what it meant to have a dream within a dream. So, they sell dreams, I thought.

“Are you coming with us?” Sensus asked.

“Yes, aren’t you coming with us?” Imagino joined in.

“No,” I replied, “We are in a hurry to meet someone.” I certainly wished to stay away from any more dreamy entanglements.

“Oh, you shouldn’t miss our first shot…” Imagino sighed; then, handing over the umbrella into my hands, he said, “Okay, keep this one. You’ll need this. May be, I’ll get it back from you later on…” he said, “if we meet!” He got into the car and they grunted off leaving a smoky trail behind.

Check Stranger at Smashwords and Scribd.
Share:

Is Dialetheism True?

Dialetheism is a thesis about truth that certain statements can be be both true and false at the same time. Motivations for such come from cases such as the Liar's Paradox:

"This sentence is false."

To assert that the sentence above is true is to also assert that it is false at the same time. Similarly, to assert that it is false is to also assert that it is true at the same time.

Similarly,
The statement in this box is false.


Other motivations include the paradoxes of Zeno in which both reason and experience seem true (The arrow seems to be moving, empirically speaking; but, rationally, an arrow that occupies any set of points in space-time isn't moving at all).

Nonsensical Statements
This refers to semantic issues in dialetheism. In the two cases cited above, of course, the Liar's paradox is about the meaningfulness of the statement; we ask the question: Does it make any sense? Does it communicate anything? If it doesn't convey any sense of meaning, then it is nonsensical. Falsehood can only be predicated of some assertion being made, but in the statement "This sentence is false", the sentence is empty of the assertion that needs to be falsified. It is a vacuous statement, devoid of meaning.

Of course, dialetheism is not the use of ambiguous statements (statements that carry two meanings because of the many meanings of the terms used). For example, in the statement, "I like tablets", one can ask for clarification regarding what "tablet" means (pill, gadget, or tile).

Phenomenal versus Essential Statements
To say that the sun rises in the east would be both true and false at the same time. It is true epistemically, phenomenally. But, does it really rise in the east? Phenomena must not be confused with essential form. To call a stone red is a claim regarding phenomenal truth (it appears red). But, whether the stone really possesses any colors is an essentialist (ontological) issue. While statements must be interpreted in the context of their literary genre (poetic statements are to be interpreted as poetical, for instance), the various contexts of the use of words also cannot be ignored.

The phenomenal versus essential problem is an epistemological issue. This doesn't mean that reality is ambiguous and open to any interpretation. However, paradoxes don't prove that the Law of Non-Contradiction doesn't apply in some situations. They only prove that the paradox arises because the Law is evidently not-contradicted.
Share:

Christian Mission in the Midst of Violence - Review

Arles, Siga & Thomas, Joy. Christian Mission in the Midst of Violence, Bangalore: CFCC, 2013.
Pages – 232
Price – Rs.300/- US$20

Christian mission is always mission in context, to a context, towards a context. The towardness of mission stirs context to a particular shape which in turn forces mission to take shape - the dynamic interactions continue. One of the contexts in which mission occurs is the context of violence. Certainly, one cannot do mission in such a context without properly analysing the situation and also finding means to accomplish mission in such a context. To understand the same, the 2013 FOIM (Fellowship of Indian Missiologists) Conference was hosted at Punalur, Kerala. 12 papers from this conference were compiled and published in Christian Mission in the Midst of Violence under the editorship of Dr. Joy Thomas SVD, director of Ishvani Kendra of Pune and Secretary of FOIM and Dr. Siga Arles, director of the Centre for Contemporary Christianity of Bangalore.

The themes dealt with are the theology of violence, the challenge of violence for Christian ministry, the biblical concept of reconciliation, the contextual religious concept of non-violence as a response, the historical use of Ahimsa by Gandhi as a weapon against violence, an inspection of the ideas of violence in Hinduism and Islam, a more concrete case analysis of Kandhamal, eco-violence, and the importance of unity and network among religions. The themes do look serious and focused and committed to address, understand, and the resolve the question of Christian mission in the midst of violence.

Some notable insights offered are: the cross as the theological yet paradoxical answer where the violence of death is transformed into the bliss of eternal life and the enmity of man is used to reconcile man to God (Antony Kalliath), the historical significance of the practical use of the non-violence (Ahimsa) principle as a response (Joy Thomas, Joseph Mattam, Paul Vellarackal, G. Lazar), the impossibility of church as an organization to solve the problem (since power politics are natural) and the need for charity to begin at home (Ernest Talibuddhin), failures to act responsibly involve an abuse of power (Asangla Lemtur), the Church can have a role in reducing tensions and creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony (V.S. Nair, Clare Purakary), the persecuted church identifies with the persecuted Christ (Julian Saldanha), the Church must responsibly also address the issue of eco-violence (J. Patmury), and dialogue and networking as valuable tools towards interreligious peace (Teresa Joseph).

All the papers focus on practical engagement and reflect immediate responses to the problem of violence especially in the historical context of India. The book relates to every Indian Christian as such and deserves attention. It would also have been better to have had at least one paper that would have addressed the issues perplexing some of the North-Eastern states where Christianity is a majority. But, overall, the book is relevant to both Mission and Religious Studies in India. I recommend it to the serious and practical Christian.
Share:

Beatitudes for a Bewildered World

Written 19 June, 2012.
Forthcoming in Festschrift for Dr. Siga Arles.

I am a newcomer to Dr. Siga Arles, and I must confess that I haven’t read much of his writings either. But, we have had few moments, first at a Seminar in Andhra University, then on two of the 4/14 Window Consultations at Patna. This month I had the privilege of joining his tact-team of resource persons for an MTh/PhD module at CFCC and was greatly enriched by his life and input. So, when I was told that a Festschrift was due in honor of him, I was very keen to also pen down something before the honors were frozen into a book. I decided to do that by means of this reflective article based on his original input.

During the module, each day, Dr. Siga took us on a devotional trip to the Mount of Beatitudes, which was a great source of blessing and enrichment to all of us. He was only able to go on till verse 9 of Matthew chapter 5, during the time I was there. But, each talk was a compressed hour of intense reflection – and positive provocation as well. I’d like to re-run the reel of provocations and flash some clippings onto the screen of this paper here. But, incontrovertibly, the projecting equipment shall be mine; and, I must confess that I have meddled with some of the clippings already, but in honor.

THE BEATITUDES

The Sermon on the Mount has been commented in volumes of works throughout the world. An exhaustive analysis of it would exhaust infinity. It is incredible that the One before whose towering mind the academies of the world stand infinitesimally small should choose to talk to a few simple men in a few simple aphorisms that still baffle the world. It would not be erroneous to contend that the modern world and its ideal of civilized humanity is a product of the Sermon on the Mount. At least one thinker, whom we’ll quote below, thought that. However, that whole argument can be reserved for some other essay. In the following few pages, we’ll only briefly explore the first 7 of the beatitudes that Jesus presented as the ideal of a blissful human life. I hope to keep the interpretation true to motif: build, bridge, and breakthrough.



Point of Engagement


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

The German nihilist Nietszche labeled Jesus’ ethics as “herd morality” (Herden-Moral). To him, it was, in fact, the baby born out of the Jewish inversion of values through a historical experience of political subjugation. Its antithesis had always been the classical Herren-Moral, the morality of the masters (to quote, the Romans), to whom “virtue wasvirtus –manhood, courage, enterprise, bravery.”[1] The Jews (and Asia), owing to their historical political subjection by the masters, bred the morality of the herd – of humility and altruism, he thought. In Nietszche’s own words: “The significance of the Jewish people lies in this inversion of values (which includes using the word for “poor” as a synonym for “holy” and “friend”): the slave revolt in morality begins with the Jews.”[2] This revolt was epitomized in Jesus’ teaching with whom “every man was of equal worth, and had equal rights.”[3] It birthed doctrines of democracy and utilitarianism, and dismissed the masters from the stage. Nietszche’s solution was to revive the Herrenspirit, to prepare the world for the dawn of the Super-man, and this could only be through “a revaluation of values whose new pressure and hammer will steel a conscience and transform a heart into bronze to bear the weight of a responsibility like this.”[4] It was only the man of a steel conscience, of a Herren spirit, who would redefine morals and lead the world into a brave, new utopian era. G. K. Chesterton gave a classic response to this Herren ideal in his Heretics (1905): “when Nietszche says, ‘A new commandment I give to you, “be hard,”’ he is really saying, ‘A new commandment I give to you, “be dead.”’ Sensibility is the definition of life.”[5] The two World Wars did show how far Herren morality could get us.

To be poor means to be destitute, to be down to earth, to be common. Jesus’ metaphor of the common salt is a strong analogy. The Christian is the salt of the earth. To a great extent, however, the world, usually, only sees the ghostly negative of this image. It sees the Christian as arrogant, intolerant, holier-than-thou, Herren. They are judgmental, condemning, and pharisaic in religious posture. Then, to another greater extent, there are the Christians who see themselves as marginalized, rejected, and dependent, as if not “of the earth” – they almost withdraw themselves from the earth and lay hopes on “the kingdom of heaven”. Both the images are antithetical to the image of Kingdom virtue that Christ has drawn for us. Christ’s call is not to withdrawal but to active engagement in order to transform the world after the pattern of heaven. But, the form of the engagement is not to be hail and brimstone-like; it is to be salt-like. And, it can only be done by those who are “poor in the spirit.” The snob doesn’t engage, because he is encaged in his own presumptions. He is a smug, a Pharisee. He is opaque to the earth; he is at war with himself and the rest. He lives within the walls of security and practices hit and run conquest strategy. His inauthentic spirituality is belied by his return to his four walls of self-concern (or unconcern). He belongs neither to earth nor to heaven. He belongs to nobody. He knows no one. The poor in spirit, however, is destitute of such protective amenities. He is homeless, naked, and hungry – he is open to the earth. He has embraced the open sky and the open earth alike. To him belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Pulsation of Life


“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”

We ha­ve already seen Chesterton’s critique of Nietzsche’s insensibility morality. Weeping is seen as a feminine quality by the world. It is the mark of weakness and helplessness. It is unmanly. To be a man means to be devoid of tears. But, the New Testament gives a counter picture of God. God is capable of both joy and sorrow. The shortest verse in the KJV English Bible is John 11:35 and it says: “Jesus wept.” The Perfect Man wept.

Mourning involves a sense of losing someone precious. It is interpersonal. It takes an extreme contraction of sensitivity to squeeze those warm tears out of the warm life-blood. A Christian cannot succumb to cold numbness. Salt melts the snow. “Sensibility is the definition of life.” When Jesus wept, Lazarus came to life.

There is a difference between mourning and complaining. A complainer is self-possessive; a mourner is bereft of self. Mourning is a virtue; it is divine. Mourning is salvific. The Bible calls us to mourn the evil that is rampant among those who claim to know Christ (1Cor. 5). Even if it were one person blatantly living a Christ-unlike lifestyle, the Church is called to mourn. If she doesn’t, the leaven will leaven the whole lump of dough.[6] Mourning demonstrates that the mourner is still alive.

The world is immersed in a single quest to laugh away sin in the theatres of comedy. It’s a morbid form of escapism. It is the hallmark of irrational hedonism. This is where philosophy bleeds in the hands of jokers. The laughing philosopher is a paradox in term for sure. The laughing philosopher must suffer the toothache to stop laughing; for, philosophy begins with the toothache.[7] The laugher dismisses sin as a joke, and is as dangerous as a madman.[8]

Complaining would also not help. There is enough complaining about sin in the camp; there isn’t enough mourning. Therefore, there isn’t any comfort. To complain is to say, “Away with you!” To mourn is to say, “I’ve lost you, but I need you back!” That is the pulse of mission. That was what Jonah had to learn. Mourning proceeds from love. And, there is comfort in love.

Posture of Strength


“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”

Again, the idea is revolutionary. Doesn’t the world treat “meekness” and “weakness” as siblings? The lamb is never a picture of triumph; images of triumph have lions and horses in them. The lamb belongs to the Herden and not to the Herren. But, it is the meek that will inherit the earth, says Jesus. How can a lamb inherit the earth? It doesn’t seem so. But in our times, someone did take Jesus’ teachings too seriously, and at practical lengths, more than the Christians do, and proved Jesus was true. It was Mahatma Gandhi – the rest is history.

Of course, faith in God is pivotal to this world-view of meek inheriting the earth. The lambs left to themselves, without a shepherd, will soon be torn to shreds by the violent and voracious wolves. In the Darwinian world of things, violent self-assertion is what defines the essence of morality: struggle for existence and survival of the fittest.[9] There might becomes right. But, in God’s world, the earth is God’s inheritance passed on to the meek. In fact, if there weren’t God, there wouldn’t be lambs or wolves either.

Meekness is an attitude of humility and trust. It is founded on truth and genuine sincerity. It proceeds from a right understanding of oneself and one’s place in God’s world. It is not the result of an inferiority complex. A person with an inferiority complex is insecure and raises walls of distrust around him, often shooting at those who appear close to the walls. Meekness, of course, is also not the result of a superiority complex. It can’t be. Meekness is the result of a healthy and right complex. Meekness is strength decked with discretion. It is the meek who find favor with friends, teachers, employers, and people. The arrogant and rebellious are avoided. The meek will inherit the earth.

Passion for the Right


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

The modern world is engrossed with this strange malady of utilitarianism. Right and wrong are a matter of relative and personal preference. Sin or piety is a matter of convenience. One is free to condemn or absolve based on the demand of the situation. If man has learnt anything from the wise men, it is this that he can play politics with truth, he can go on a fling with sin. The result is a confused, broken, and increasingly distrustful world, where the salt has lost its saltiness and has become useless for any meaningful covenant. We are left with no salt at all.

The malady has also invaded the Temple violating the walls of sanctity and murdering both conscience and pure appetite. While outside the walls, a few agitators have become sensitive to righteousness and are running campaigns to eliminate corruption from the secular world, within the walls corruption breeds profusely and thrives in the bosom of “holy” (or “holey”) men; and, who can question? – If a “minister” is in a privileged position, then should he be accountable to any man? The modern sage is too sophisticated to renounce self and bear his cross. Those are archaic ideas. He is too modern to imitate St. Paul. He dreams of luxury and boasts of influence. He preaches prosperity and justifies affluence. He is too air-borne that he has become too light for the Spirit of God to take him seriously anymore. The “manifestations” are mere stage shows. The modern “sage” has a price-tag. The universe is not a free-lunch after all. He is a slave to the demand-supply mechanism of this world. He hires and fires and is hired and fired in return. He buys titles and sells titles dishonestly, and assumes God is a little blind or his accomplice perhaps. He can’t be a servant of righteousness anymore.

The Voice in the wilderness still cries: “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise…Collect no more than what is appointed for you….Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages….I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:11-16). Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Potion of Healing


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

The cry of a villain, say the theatres, is “No mercy!” The hero might oft times forgive the villain and shock him into a remorse. “To err is human, to forgive divine” wrote Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism (1709). The whole impulse of the epigram is that the rod of criticism (or judgment) must be held in the hands of mercy.

Mercy involves a sense of justice. An act is not merciful unless it involves a full assessment of the just cost involved. A dacoit who has a victim at hand, but lets him go, has not shown mercy; he has only kept himself from a crime. He might say that he had shown mercy from his own contorted sense of what is right for him and wrong (the criminal usually thinks that the victim deserves the violence); but, his warped world of reference is itself in the criminal trough condemned by justice.[10]

Here is the paradigm: Only he who can hold the rod of justice can show mercy; only the hands of mercy must hold the rod of justice. Mercy is a positive virtue. To show mercy doesn’t just mean to renounce punishing someone for the wrong he/she has done; it also means to forgive. This can’t be possible without love. Therefore, the spring of mercy is true love.

It is not just enough to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us”; the prayer must be substantiated by action. An act of mercy is not easily forgotten; a merciful personality has an indelible impact. Teachers and professors in the academies who have been merciful to their students leave an indelible impression. Mercy brings healing. It is the merciful who are remembered. It is the merciful who will be shown mercy.

Power of Purity


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

In 1973, the American psychiatrist, Karl Menninger wrote Whatever Became of Sin? in which he deplored the disappearance of the word and concept of sin from both everyday life and the pulpit. Psychiatry had somehow contributed to this. However, Menninger noted that not everything about human behavior can be classified under “neurotic” or “healthy”; there was a class of actions that had to be definitely called “sin”. But, in place of that word, evasive words such as “disease”, “antisocial behavior”, and “lack of moral development” had come into function. He wrote, “I believe there is ‘sin’ which is expressed in ways that cannot be subsumed . . . as ‘crime,’ ‘disease,’ ‘delinquency,’ ‘deviancy.’ There is immorality; there is unethical behavior; there is wrong doing. And I hope to show that there is usefulness in retaining the concept, and indeed the SIN, which now shows some signs of returning to public acceptance.”[11] Menninger’s book became a bestseller and his call was widely received by psychiatrists. At Yale University, Stephen Fleck, MD, reviewed the book saying:

Dr. Menninger’s crusading fervor may not suit every reader, and this book could be considered “unscientific” because its data base is our everyday life and living, not only information from the analyst’s couch or the laboratory. I would disagree with such criticism if only because scientists, like most citizens don’t like to pay attention to our everyday sins, despite the currently fashionable concern with ethics. As the author points out, not only do we ignore sin at our peril and possibly that of the human race, but understanding our sinful ways allows for the possibility, the chance, the hope, that we also can behave differently.[12]

Desisting from recognizing sin as sin has severe psychological consequences for sure. It bundles up to sociological aftereffects as well. While Menninger wrote from the perspective of a psychiatrist and saw sin as a sane and volitional act of moral revolt, the Bible adds a proper dimension to it by calling sin as a revolt against God. Sin is the antithesis of divine holiness; and, the Bible affirms that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

Christian theology has lines of thinking in it that discourage hope in the possibility of holy life on this earth. Such thinking is skeptical of holiness as a possibility in this life. There is that great contention concerning whether entire sanctification is possible or impossible in this world. Such lines of thinking go against the divine calling and introduce skepticism and distrust among the children of God. One is forever unsure about the other’s intention for he/she is ruled by the belief that purity is an impossibility in any instance. Disbelief is tantamount to defeat. One has to believe in the genuineness of the Lord’s call to holiness in order to look up to Him for strength to live the pure life. Only those who obey the Lord in this are blessed and will see God.

Panacea of the World


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Peace is the talk of the hour today. Governments talk of peace. The Universities offer courses on Peace Studies. The most popular book that Billy Graham wrote was Peace with God (1953). The world is in need of peace.

Peace means the extermination of animosity, of enmity, of hostility, and of fear. The children of God are called to be the agents of peace in this broken and insecure world. But, the only way they could be agents of peace in the world is when they first have peace among themselves. “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another,” said Jesus (Mark 9:50). Peace is the capstone of unity and harmony. It adorns the hall of diversity. It is the quality of recognizing and respecting the differences without allowing the differences to turn us against each other. It is the ability to agree to disagree. It doesn’t mean compromise. It means casting off the armors of war and coming down to live in constructive cooperation with each other. It means beating the swords in plowshares (Isa. 2:4). A house divided cannot stand. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The ground of peace is the work of the Son of God on the Cross of Calvary. He is our peace (Eph.2:14). Through His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross, He has left the world no more reason to be at war with itself and God. He provided the rationale and the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor.5:18). Therefore, those who have trusted in Him are called to be peacemakers in this world, they will be the harbingers of the gospel of peace; such shall be called sons of God.

True blessedness rests in the bosom of those who have learnt from the Master to beat their swords into plowshares, get into the murky ground, in touch, in all humility, purity, and truth, and work to make the world a better place.




[1] Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (NY: Pocket Books, 1953), p.420
[2] Friedrich Nietszche, Beyond Good and Evil (originally published in 1886; trans. Judith Norman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p.84
[3] Durant, The Story of Philosophy, p.420
[4] Nietszche, Beyond Good and Evil, pp.91-92
[5] G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905. Gutenberg.org
[6] In response to the Houston Pastor Joel Osteen’s answer to the question “Would you attend a same-sex wedding ceremony?” to which he is said to have replied that he would if the wedding involved friends, Albert Mohler, Jr. the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote: “You cannot celebrate what you say you know to be sin.” Osteen, of course, had earlier stated that he could not perform a same-sex marriage since he believed homosexuality is sin. Mohler clarified, “You cannot honestly say that same-sex marriage defies the law of God, and then join in the celebration of that ceremony.” AlbertMohler, “Would You Attend A Same Sex Wedding?” October 18, 2011. Albertmohler.com
[7] Domenic Marbaniang, “The Laughing Philosopher and the Significance of Truth in Belief”, Dec. 19, 2007. Marbaniang.com. Cf. “Contrary to what Shakespeare said, it is the tooth-ache experience, the reality of pain that makes one a philosopher.” “Beyond the Shadows,” Light of Life (Mumbai, August 2008), p.59. The title “the Laughing Philosopher” was originally used for Democritus, who is known as the philosopher who laughed at human follies.
[8] “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “I was only joking!” (Pro 26:18-19)
[9] Cf. “Social Darwinism came to see human progress as dependent on competition. According to it, the fittest among humans survive. This influenced the eugenics movement which aimed at improving the quality of human population through selective breeding. Both Nazism and Fascism found in Darwinism their bases. The Nazis used the ‘survival of fittest’ principle as developed in the eugenics movement to justify their extermination of Jewish population and other ethnic groups. Thus, Darwinism influenced an anthropological perspective in which the breed became more important than the individual, while war and violence were justified as integral to the struggle for existence.” Domenic Marbaniang, Philosophy of Science: A Short Introduction (Lulu Publishing, 2011), p.28
[10] It is, however, possible that a person in a position to hurt another can desist from such action when his bowels of compassion are stirred, which would be the sign of good triumphing over evil. Compassion is an act of “feeling along with” someone (com+passion); it involves the sense of human solidarity. But, mercy involves the sense of justice.
[11] As cited by Albert Mohler in “The Disappearance of Sin-A Flight from Reality”, www.christianity.com, accessed on June 18, 2012.
[12] Am J Public Health. 1974 December; 64(12), p. 1167
Share:

The Gospel Must Rapidly and Honorably Spread

"...pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you." (2The 3:1)

The Gospel must spread rapidly and be honoured! We are in the 21st century now where anything can spread across the globe at lightning speed. Consumer brands like coca cola have reached to the ends of the world. They can't save the world; only the Gospel can. It's no use just sitting with the same 99 righteous sheep at home while the world is perishing in sins. It is evil to be immersed in our petty little domestic dreams and neglect the large vision of God. It is evil to not give any thought to give to the world the only antidote available for its cure. God's true message of salvation and healing must spread; it must ignite, spark up, turn into flames and consume the entire world; burn all sin, save the people and transform their lives.

From Notes on Evangelism (Dec 2008)


Procedures Needed
Infiltration - Measure: The Gospel must penetrate deeply to the most unreached places of the world.
Inundation - Volume: The Gospel must flood the nations. The volume must be increased and must be accessible.
Incarnation - View: The Gospel must be understandable and must make an appeal in cogent terms.
Indoctrination - Word: The Gospel must provide a strong foundation for spiritual growth.
Insulation – Defence: The Gospel must guard against heretical influxes.

Symbols of Truth
Confidence – Power: If we aren't confident about the message we lose power.
Confession - Expression: If we don't speak out the truth, the world doesn't know it.
Consistence - Integrity: If our statements are inconsistent and too plural, our message loses credibility. Also, the life of the messenger must exemplify the message of the Gospel. Actions speak louder than words.
Concern – Significance: A message that lacks concern for the immediate situation is insignificant (The wounded man must be nursed first).

Marks of Good Communication
Focussed – to the point, reasonable, cogent
Fervent – passionate, intense, energetic, confident
Followable – simple, clear, explanative, understandable
Share:

Democracy Is Not Meant to Be Mobocracy

Basically, there are two kinds of government or rules: the rule of people and the rule of law.

The rule of people is manifest in democracy (mobocracy) where majority rule or in dictatorship where the whim of a single man pilots the state. Obviously, the rule of law is preferred above the rule of the mob. - The Rule of Law Vs The Rule of People


Today, women protested against the Delhi Law Minister, Somnath Bharti's "raid" in the night hours against women being accused of running a drug and prostitution racket. The police didn't want to cooperate with Bharti since they stated that this was an illegal move. However, the idea of a "people's government" was hot on fire, and it seems Bharti was zealous to be sensitive to the complaints. The AAP justify Bharti's move by stating that since the police weren't responding to the local people's complaint, and usually crime flourishes under the patronage of the police, the Law Minister had to take a move. Of course, the police must answer why it hadn't properly responded if the complaints had been made. Investigations need to be fair. Of course, a letter from an Ugandan official seems to have come in that affirms drug and sex trafficking going on by duping African girls into it.

However, the more severe issue of concern is the breach of the existent law, made by the government itself out of public pressure;. To what extent can such breaches be justifiable? There are dangerous pits on this track.

Propaganda, caricaturing, and dehumanization have many times led to mob crimes. We must be careful to avoid these. If the rule is handed over to people (in majority), then the minority will soon become victims of rumor, dehumanization, ghettoisation, and mob crime. The goal of a law-abiding nation cannot be reached by breaching the law.

We must understand the dangers of giving into the demands of propaganda propelled, passion driven masses. We must not forget that Socrates was poisoned because the majority voted for his death, Jesus was crucified because the majority wanted Him to die and wanted Barabbas the murderer to be released. Justice should not be blindfolded by the demands of the people. This will only end up in another instance of hooliganism. If the law is evil, then let's get rational about correcting it first in a rational manner; why use brute force, especially against the defenseless? We must remember the sagacious warning of Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Share:

Idolatry's Logical Failures

Idolatry is a visible religious phenomena in India, despite the fact that some religious reformers like Nanak, Dayananda Saraswati, and Raja Ram Mohan Roy opposed it. One of the most sympathetic apologetics that anyone ever presented was Swami Vivekananda. The story goes that once when he visited a king, the king who disbelieved in idolatry questioned Vivekananda's support of idol worship. The king argued that an idol is just an image and was nothing but clay, stone, and metal. Swami Vivekananda was not disturbed by this. He looked at a painting of the king hanging on the wall and asked an official there to take it down and spit on it. The official refused saying that it was a dishonor to the king. Then, the Swami rhetorically objected: "If a piece of paper with a painting of the king was to be so respected, then why shouldn't we understand the idol to also bear the same amount of value for the worshipper? The idol is not god; it is clay or stone or whatever, but the worshipper looks at it with respect because it embodies the sentiments towards god."

The king is said to have repented, thereafter.

The argument is quite sympathetic and relevant. We will certainly pay respect to any object that is considered to be connected in any way with a loved one. People treasure objects, pictures, and different things. Respect about things is a part of our daily life. But, I think we cannot ignore three issues with Vivekananda's analogy:

1. The painting of the king was based on his visible appearance. Someone saw him and painted his picture. But, nobody can claim that they have seen God.
2. If someone treasures the picture of a crocodile saying that for him it is the picture of the Prime Minister of India (just because he hasn't seen him, and based on certain description or metaphors, thinks he looks like a crocodile), then belief must address reality somewhere.
3. Probably, the picture of a crocodile with the caption of the Prime Minister is not honor but a misrepresentation in objectionable terms.

Of course, in some contexts the objects of veneration are objectionable as well. For instance, the Roman Catholics say that they do not worship the icons but venerate them. Only God is due worship, and that veneration is not the same as adoration. It may not seem the same as idolatry, of course; but, it also doesn't look much different from ancestor worship.
Share:

The Upper and Lower Story Problem in Theologically Secularizing Politics

Francis Schaeffer had geniously pointed out the problems with compartmentalizing theology. He observed that Thomas Aquinas' division of theology into natural and revelational was what propelled a history that ended up in the secularization of theology: the lower story (nature) ate up the upper story (grace). The basic problem was the failure to establish a proper connection between the lower and the upper story. He talked of the division as a house made up of the lower and upper story, but having no connecting stairs. The problem seems similar to Plato's division of the reality into ideas and instances; but, there doesn't seem to be a stair between them.

Contrary to such compartmentalization, the Bible tells us about Jacob (the Patriarch Israel) who dreamt at Bethel that a stair connected earth to heaven and the angels of God ascended and descended to it. The vision speaks volumes; but one fact is that God is not just a disconnected transcendent; He is connected to this world. The universe is not a closed system; God does interfere with human history; He is sovereign over it.

However, when we speak about God in the secular, we do not disconnect Him from the God of the universal Church. There is one God, God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Further, the separation of Church and State is not compartmentalization of authority. God's authority is singular. His Lordship is universal. The compartmentalization is with regard to the Church - "What is Caesar's must be rendered to Caesar and what is God's must be rendered to God" when it comes to matters of religion versus politics. In other words, the Church is the House of God; the secular world is not. God's presence in the world is redemptive and reconciliatory. His Spirit is what prevents the mystery of iniquity from overtaking history (2Thess.2). Hell will break loose on earth the moment the Spirit is taken out of the path. God's presence through the Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). Interestingly, it is in the political arena (of civilian concerns regarding law, justice, and peace) that these concepts gain distinct relevance. The Law is both social and personal. And, the Law is written in human hearts on tablets of flesh (Rom.2:15). However, political authority is based on a different covenant, which is prior to both Israel and the Church.

It is based on God's Covenant with Noah after the Flood. There He established violence and terror as the tools of human government to execute temporal justice on earth. In fact, "fear" had to become an important factor in the survival of humans. Thus, even the animal world was brought under the purview of fear.

"The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands." (Genesis 9:2)

Then, with regard to human government, he declares:

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." (Gen.9:6)

Of course, the promise of the Covenant is that God will never destroy humanity by means of a global flood, as He had done in Noah's time; and the Rainbow was given as the sign of the Covenant with the nations.
The authority of the Church, however, is not physical. It is spiritual; the tools are also spiritual.

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete" (2 Cor.5:2-6)

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph.6:12)

While fear is the element of crime-prevention in the political world, love is the binding element of the community of believers in Christ.

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Rom.13:3-4)

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

Perhaps, we can say that political authority reflects the judicial face of God while ecclesiastical authority reflects divine mercy and love. Significantly, it was the religious powers of Jesus' day, deprived of political power, who used the secular political authority of the Romans (who wished not to meddle with religious matters) to crucify Jesus. The Bible tells us that in Jesus Justice and Love kissed each other. The Bible does point to a future time when the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever (Rev.6:15). It also talks about the saints who will reign with Him and judge the angels. But, as long as the kingdom of the world remains (secular politics), the world is still under the Noahic Covenant. It may accept or reject God, but the authority is still sacred; its violation certainly gets historically punished (through sword (war), famine (economic collapse), or pestilence (diseases)). We cannot bypass the Covenants by which God deals with humanity if we desire to understand history from a Biblical perspective.
Share:

Is it Ethical for Kejriwal to Refuse Police Protection?

Kejriwal is a bit theological when He brings his faith in God to issues of personal security.

But, what about the police concerns? Obviously, there is no atheistic prong of approach taken. Nobody seems to have hurled a skeptical or agnostic concern arguing that we don't know if God exists and if He does whether He is interested enough in the affairs of mortal men. Not that India is not ripe for atheism; but, I think it has tried and abandoned atheism in the far distant past. We are a people, despite the various religious traditions, who believe in the Supreme God. In the past few decades we have also learnt to not mix organized religion with politics. When religion is politicized, religion is polluted, instantly. History stands as witness to this fact that where politics became custodian of a particular strand of religion, the religious spirit was violated. However, this doesn't disallow politicians from being religious. It is better for a politician to be a believer in the God of mercy and justice than to fall prey to the merciless ethics of a Nietzschean universe (Nietzsche pronounced God as dead in the 19th century and painted hopes of the rise of a Superman who would be above ethics; Hitler's desire to fulfill it is still a dark blot on the timeline of history, a disgrace to humanity). But, of course, a politician's faith must not in anyway compromise the freedom of spirit in the right to faith - God Himself allows us that freedom; if not, humanity would be one soup of religion.. We've noted elsewhere (God and Politics in Secular India) that God and politics are not strangers; and, there is a way of speaking of God as being secularly involved in history (i.e. unecclesiastically: the New Testament supports the division of religion and state). Certainly, Kejriwal's faith in God is strong. Is it fatalism? He will need to answer that. But, his actions are certainly too vociferously anti-fatalist: he believes that the future of India CAN BE CHANGED. Perhaps, his confidence in God is an affirmation of divine sovereignty. God is in control and nothing escapes His omniscient ordering of the world. He has publicly argued in the Parliament that nothing can harm him if it's God's will to keep him on earth and nothing can save him (not even the biggest legions of security) if it's God's will to take him away.

So, it's not atheism or fatalism that the police is bothered about. Certainly, it's their sense of duty and responsibility. They are meant to ensure the protection of the city; and, one important step in this order is to protect the head of the state. But, Kejriwal is revulsive to this idea. He doesn't want to be seen as the head; he has repeatedly affirmed that it is the people of the nation who are the rulers. He hates the notion of a government ruling over the people. So, his argument is quite cogent. The police cannot aristocratize security - he doesn't believe in the VIP culture, after all. But, shouldn't security be prioritized? Is the security of the soldier in combat less important than the security of the leader? What would a doctor say about this (I mean an ethically responsible doctor, not the one sold to avarice)? If the lives of two humans are in danger, one a politician and the other a "common man", and he has to prioritize, whose would he save first? Is it a matter of aristocrizing or prioritizing? But who decides the value of anybody's life? To Kejriwal, the life of the common man is more important.

But, there is another hook. The police claim that they have received intelligence about threat to the life of Kejriwal and so are constrained to prioritize security. Kejriwal is not just skeptical about this; he is more pronounced about his convictions. Let's quote a few lines from the Hindustan Times here:

Hours after reports emerged that terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) was planning to abduct Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister refused to accept any form of security cover and said the Delhi Police were playing politics along with the central government.

“Is delhi police n central govt playing politics with my security? (sic)” Kejriwal tweeted. “Police officials met me in afternoon. Informed me abt threat. Asked me not to disclose it to media. Den dey themselves went and told media,” he sent out another tweet minutes later.

He said the police had themselves compromised his security. “By announcing this, haven't police made me vulnerable. Now anyone can attack and it wud be said that Bhatkal's men did it.”

Kejriwal, who had earlier turned down Z-category cover by the Ghaziabad Police, reiterated that he won’t accept any cover despite the IM threat. “I am not afraid of my life. As i said, i strongly believe in God. Will not take any security,” one of his tweets read.

Denying the Z-cover security earlier, Kejriwal had said, “I don’t need security, the aam aadmi (common man) needs security”. He stressed his demand for security to the ‘aam aadmi’ again on Sunday. “I wud urge police to stop playing politics. Rather than giving security to me, let them deploy these men for aam aadmi's security,” he told his Twitter followers on Sunday.

Obviously, if it is true that the police have received such intelligence, then it becomes their responsibility to act in accordance to such intelligence. Certainly, if anything does happen to Kejriwal, the police will become answerable; and they must have the confidence to say that they had done everything that could be done to ensure protection. But, perhaps Kejriwal also wishes to say that if the innocent little ones in the city are not protected, if a young girl on the streets of Delhi is not protected, if the poor find no protection from the police, he doesn't want their protection either. God is enough for him.

____________________________

Few Pertinent Quotes on Politics and Religion by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The right way to requite evil, according to Jesus, is not to resist it. This saying of Christ removes the Church from the sphere of politics and law. The Church is not to be a national community like the old Israel, but a community of believers without political or national ties. The old Israel had been both — the chosen people of God and a national community, and it was therefore his will that they should meet force with force. But with the Church it is different: it has abandoned political and national status, and therefore it must patiently endure aggression. Otherwise evil will be heaped upon evil. Only thus can fellowship be established and maintained.

By willing endurance we cause suffering to pass. Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance. By refusing to pay back the enemy with his own coin, and preferring to suffer without resistance, the Christian exhibits the sinfulness of contumely and insult. Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter-violence.

By his willingly renouncing self-defence, the Christian affirms his absolute adherence to Jesus, and his freedom from the tyranny of his own ego. The exclusiveness of this adherence is the only power which can overcome evil.

Jesus is no draughtsman of political blueprints, he is the one who vanquished evil through suffering. It looked as though evil had triumphed on the cross, but the real victory belonged to Jesus. And the cross is the only justification for the precept of non-violence, for it alone can kindle a faith in the victory over evil which will enable men to obey that precept. And only such obedience is blessed with the promise that we shall be partakers of Christ's victory as well as his sufferings.

The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on out traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil. The "reasonable" people's failure is obvious. With the best intentions and a naive lack of realism, they think that with a little reason they can bend back into position the framework that has got out of joint. In their lack of vision they want to do justice to all sides, and so the conflicting forces wear them down with nothing achieved. Disappointed by the world's unreasonableness, they see themselves condemned to ineffectiveness; they step aside in resignation or collapse before the stronger party.
Still more pathetic is the total collapse of moral fanaticism. Fanatics think that their single-minded principles qualify them to do battle with the powers of evil; but like a bull they rush at the red cloak instead of the person who is holding it; he exhausts himself and is beaten. He gets entangled in non-essentials and falls into the trap set by cleverer people.

Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated — in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.

...there are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Second, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. "Do good to all people." In both these courses of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks. The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.
Share:

Doesn't matter if it's just a drop; many drops make an ocean

Doesn’t matter if it’s just a drop…
We may be a drop..
But many drops make an ocean.

Don't be dismayed by your size;
You are the right size for the spot God wants you in...

Each life is a chapter in God’s book,
Written in His book..
He wrote our biography before the world began.
(Psalm 139:16)

Every flame has a name…
A special name that no one else knows;
God relates to us personally.
(Acts 2:3; Rev. 2:17)

Jesus was not fascinated with the big buildings.
He said that not a stone would remain upon another;
He had no home to call His own; but, He has prepared us a place in heaven.
(Matt.24; John 14)
Share:

Overthrow of the Devil, BIG SHOT, God's Dream, Faith, Anxiety, and Moving On

On the Cross, the devil was totally deterritorialized, disinherited, deprived, and destroyed. The crucifixion of Christ meant the judgment of the world and the overthrow of the devil. In one shot, our Lord atoned for our sins, pleased the Father, reconciled us to God, justified sinners, condemned the world and abolished the kingdom of darkness. Let's be light, walk in the light, and spread God's light in all the world!!
~Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. (John 12:31,32)~

I sincerely believe that the word "BIG SHOT" is very sinful!
~Who says that you are any better than other people? What do you have that wasn't given to you? If you were given what you have, why are you bragging as if it weren't a gift? (1Co 4:7 GWN)~

~Every mother caressing her baby dreams big dreams for her; but, God's dreams are bigger - He made us.~
"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" (139:16,17)

When we are born again, God gives us a new heart; but renewing our mind, changing the way we see and think, is our responsibility. A new heart is given by God; but renewing the mind is our obligation (Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 12:2).

I think when considering boundaries we also understand that it is only through Christ that we relate - He is both the boundary and the bridge between my neighbour and me: whatever passes must pass through Him...
~ But the same Mediator who makes us individuals is also the founder of a new fellowship. He stands in the centre between my neighbour and myself. He divides, but He also unites. Thus although the direct way to our neighbour is barred, we now find the new and only real way to him—the way which passes through the Mediator.…` Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sometimes all you need to do is to shift gear and push the accelerator..... Life also has it's difficult climbs; it's not always gear 5.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (139:23-24)
~Many times it is our anxieties that offend God. A worrying Christian is a contradiction in terms - he who has gone through the cross and is carrying his own cross has forgotten what worry is. May the Lord help us to say "no" to anxiety and walk in the path of everlasting life every single moment of our life!~

Liberality without modesty is shame, frankness without sensitivity is violence; freedom is where love is in love with wisdom....

~The heart that says to God, "Give me this and I will be happy" has become idolatrous - it can no longer find satisfaction in God; it frets and becomes downhearted because its desires are not fulfilled; but, the heart that delights in the Lord is always fully satisfied.~
"Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Ps.37:4)
Share:

The Vocation of the Christian Scholar

Published in Journal of NATA, Vol. 3. No.1,2. 2013. Bangalore, pp.37-43.


Christian scholarship is a strong theme of the Bible. For instance, the Old Testament commends Ezra a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses (Ezra 7:6) and one who had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10). The four qualities of a scholar are already present in that one statement: preparation of faculties, study, practice, and communication. Certainly, these disciplines were what defined the vocation of Ezra as a skilled scribe. The New Testament indicates to us that lack of a scholarly attitude, appetite, approach, and aptitude lead to schisms, sectarianisms, and suffering within the Body of Christ. Gullibility is not a virtue (2Tim.3:6); mere “learning” without assimilation is folly (2Tim.3:7); ability to criticize and oppose doesn’t promise wisdom (2Tim.3:8-9; 1Tim.6:4). The call is to diligent, determined, and directed scholarship. “Be diligent”, says Paul to Timothy, “to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And, then he adds the caveat, “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (2Tim.2:15,16). True scholarship will help to rightly interpret God’s word and to increase godliness. True scholarship highlights truth and furthers the cause of moral excellence. Even the so considered “unlearned” Peter stressed the importance of proper erudition for the proper interpretation of God’s revelation and our relation to God and His world. In his words, there are certain things given through revelation that are hard to comprehend, and it is the unlearned and the unstable who twist the Scriptures for their own destruction (2Pet.3:16); which implies that learning, conservation of knowledge, and practical application of the same define the proper approach towards true Christian scholarship. A number of qualities make up and give identity to a Christian scholar.


Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), in his lecture, “The Vocation of the Scholar”, [1]  presents few characteristics that define the identity and calling of a scholar in this world. Fichte was a German philosopher who shot to prominence after his authorship for the anonymously published treatise Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (1792), published with the help of Immanuel Kant, was discovered by the public. Interestingly, his first interview with Kant had been rather disappointing after which he had determined to master the latter’s philosophy and write a treatise on a theme yet unaddressed by him: the treatise did impress Kant and he helped publish it. “The Vocation of the Scholar” was one of the lectures delivered at the University of Jena in the year 1794 to a group of young students and neatly outlines the place and position of the scholar in relation to the human race. Fichte lists at least four important qualities that the scholar certainly possesses.

The Scholar is Learner. To Fichte, learning is composed of the three branches of knowledge, viz., philosophical, philosophico-historical, and purely historical. A scholar is someone who devotes his life to the acquisition of this learning. To Fichte, it is pure reason (philosophical) that helps one to establish the ideal of human progress – to understand who we are and where we need to go. But, that isn’t enough. One needs experience directed by this ideal (philosophico-historical) to understand what means are available to us to achieve this goal. Then, comes the pure historical understanding of our condition today, of how far we have historically arrived, and how far we need to go and what steps we need to take now (purely historical).

For Fichte, education was not just about abstract ideals. The ideals had to be rationally captured and rooted in concrete history in order to shape history by means of tools that history makes available to us. Applying this to a theological situation, the Christian scholar cannot attempt learning in a mere a priori setup. Learning is a confluence of faith, reason, and historical experience. Learning is not just about the acquisition of knowledge, but about the blending of knowledge with purpose, direction, methodology, and praxis. A true Christian scholar cannot just be a gas balloon disconnected from the ground beneath; at the same time, he cannot also be a stone sitting on the ground. He must reach up high and touch the ground. Thus, any scholarship that means nothing to human progress is both insignificant and irrelevant. This means that since history is dynamic, the scholar also becomes dynamically attached to it. The scholar must be continuously open for learning.

Receptivity must already be developed in him if he has thoroughly mastered the requisite empirical sciences. He must be thoroughly conversant with the labours of those who have gone before him in his own department, and this knowledge he cannot have acquired otherwise than by instruction, either oral or literary; he cannot have arrived at it by mere reflection on the principles of Reason. But he should at all times maintain this receptivity by means of new acquirements, and endeavour to preserve himself from a growing insensibility to foreign opinions and modes of thought, which is so common even among the most independent thinkers; for no one is so well informed but he may still continue to learn, and may have something very necessary yet to learn; and it is seldom that any one is so ignorant that he cannot teach something to the most learned, which the latter did not know before.[2]

The Scholar is Teacher of the Human Race. For Fichte, the scholar “exists only through society and for society”; therefore, communication of knowledge is demanded of him. The scholar is not just a receiver but also a communicator and he must be ready for both. It is usually enough if the communicator only speaks more of his findings than of all the process by which he arrived at the answers; not everybody is a scholar, but everyone wants to hear what an expert in his particular field is saying about something significant; and, usually, a sort of reasonable fideism (cognitive reliance/verbal testimony) and intuitive receptivity is what a scholar may often rely upon in his act of communication. In Fichte’s words:

Readiness of communication is always needed by the Scholar, for he possesses his knowledge not for himself, but for society. This he must practise from his youth, and keep in constant activity, through what means, we shall inquire at the proper time.

The knowledge which he has acquired for society he must now actually apply to the uses of society; he must rouse men to the feeling of their true wants, and make them acquainted with the means of satisfying these. Not that he should enter with them into the deep inquiries which he himself has been obliged to undertake, in order to find some certain and secure foundation of truth: that would be an attempt to make all men Scholars like himself, which is impossible, and of no advantage for the purposes of life; the other forms of human activity must also be prosecuted, and to that end there are other classes of men; if they devoted their time to learned inquiries, the Scholars themselves would soon cease to be Scholars. How then can he spread abroad his knowledge, and how ought he to do so? Society could not subsist without trust in the honesty and skill of others; this confidence is deeply impressed upon our hearts, and by a peculiar favour of Nature we never possess it in a higher degree than when we most need the honesty and skill of others. The Scholar may securely reckon upon this trust in his honesty and skill, as soon as he has earned it as he ought. Further, there is in all men a feeling of truth, which indeed is not sufficient in itself, but must be developed, proved, and purified; and to do this is the task of the Scholar. This feeling is not sufficient in itself to lead the unlearned to all the truth of which they stand in need; but when it has not become artificially falsified (which indeed is often the work of some who call themselves Scholars) it is always sufficient to enable them, even without deep argument, to recognise truth when another leads them to her presence. On this intuitive feeling of truth the Scholar too may rely. Thus, so far as we have yet unfolded the idea of his vocation, the Scholar is, by virtue of it, the Teacher of the human race.[3]

The Scholar is Guide of the Human Race. The scholar is guide because “he sees not merely the present, he sees also the future: he sees not merely the point which humanity now occupies, but also that to which it must next advance if it remain true to its final end, and do not wander or turn back from its legitimate path.”[4] The findings of scholarship are also directives of the future. The blind will lead the blind into the ditch. Only the one who has a proper vision can be a proper leader. Thus, a true scholar is a true leader. Scholarship is primary quality of leadership. A leader who is disconnected to the ideal and his historical position is no leader at all. A leader who fails to communicate is no leader at all. Thus, it is the scholar who becomes the guide of the human race.

The Scholar is Morally the Best Man of His Age. He possesses moral excellence. According to Fichte, erudition without ethics is pure emptiness. The educated man is an ethical man; the man of intelligence is the man of integrity. The scholar respects social freedom and detests deceptive schemes and manipulative techniques. He doesn’t attempt brainwashing, propaganda, fallacious advertising, and subtle suggestions. The scholar is confident about the freedom that is characteristic of both morality and truth.

The ultimate purpose of each individual man, as well as of all society, and consequently of all the labours of the Scholar in society, is the moral elevation of all men. It is the duty of the Scholar to have this final object constantly in view, never to lose sight of it in all that he does in society. But no one can successfully labour for the moral improvement of his species who is not himself a good man. We do not teach by words alone, we also teach much more impressively by example; and every one who lives in society owes it a good example, because the power of example has its origin in the social relation. How much more is this due from the Scholar, who ought to be before all others in every branch of human culture? If he be behind in the first and highest of them all, that to which all the others tend, how can he be the pattern which he ought to be, and how can he suppose that others will follow his teachings, which he himself contradicts before all men in every action of his life? The words which the founder of the Christian Religion addressed to his disciples apply with peculiar force to the Scholar,—“Ye are the salt of the earth: if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”—if the chosen among men be depraved, where shall we seek for moral good? Thus, in this last respect, the Scholar ought to be morally the best man of his age; he ought to exhibit in himself the highest grade of moral culture then possible.[5]

Contemporary Relevance of the Analysis
In an age of growing commercialization of education, where money and education seem to be more often unethically linked, it is noteworthy that Fichte doesn’t relate scholarship to business in any way. Didn’t Fichte lecture and get paid for? Didn’t he know the importance of money for the publishing of his writings? But, Fichte certainly didn’t see the vocation of the scholar as egotistical, materially speaking. Of course, the Scholar had to be connected to concrete historical realities; however, he must not be overcome by the materialistic. Certainly, the present euphoria is more of an anti-idealistic nature. To a great extent even religion has been highly affected by materialism. Prosperity cults abound everywhere. Do we speak of ideals anymore? Well, ideals and absolutes have no place in a utilitarianistically driven post-modern world. Hasn’t this affected Christian education as well? One doesn’t need to quote sources to historically find oneself. A University degree doesn’t make one a scholar – titles such as Doctor and Professor matter nothing unless the scholar is both dynamically related to humanity in history as well as is an exemplary guide and teacher of the human race to which he owes his duty.

We have only startup differences with Fichte’s model. The Christian scholar begins with a priori absolutes, but they are provided by God in His revelation. However, this doesn’t ignore the role of reason, since reason is involved in the interpretation of the word. The Bible uncovers mankind’s ultimate need of eternal life and communion with God. The a priori truths of God answer the a priori realities of man. But, hermeneutics cannot ignore the question of history as well.[6] Secondly, the Christian scholar’s primary obligation is towards God. Apart from these, the identification of the scholar as learner, teacher, guide, and example are valuable for an understanding of the Christian scholar’s vocation in the world.

Historical answers of history past cannot be the historical answer of history today. Context is dynamic. The scholar as leader must be ahead of the ones he leads; which also means that he is ahead of the scholarship of yesterday.

Also, the scholar cannot afford becoming chronologically archaic in the historical timeline of one relevant field of knowledge while he is up to date and advanced on some other field. It will only handicap his progress and leadership ability. Scholarship, therefore, becomes an arduous discipline. And so, the Christian scholar cannot ignore the findings of others. He must be receptive of discoveries in the field of knowledge, especially of that which pertains to his field of study; yet, not ignoring others

At the same time, the Christian scholar must know the need and the art of communication. The Christian scholar doesn’t withhold knowledge for the sake of money. In the modern age of electronic technology, perhaps this would mean that the Christian scholar must not withhold information from the public that can be made available publicly. This doesn’t imply that ebooks shouldn’t be sold; but, it certainly desires that they made available for online reading in some form of the other (with whatever restrictions with regard to copying and downloading are applicable). Fichte’s portrayal of the scholar as teacher of the human race does suggest that a scholar owes deliverance of knowledge to the entire world; he is obligated to teach.

Finally, the scholar is not so much concerned for reputation as he is committed to integrity and character. Reputation is what people think we are; character is who we are. The Christian scholar’s test of character is best seen in moments of adversity, stress, and dealings with other humans. A life that doesn’t exude Christian virtue is not Christian at all; a learning that is straying on the ethically wrong path of selfish ambition is empty of learning; a scholar who does not abide by what he proclaims gives evidence of his disbelief in his own teachings; thus, contradicting and nullifying his own “scholarship”. The Christian scholar is a learner, teacher, guide, and moral example to the entire human race because the Christian scholar is a discoverer of truths, discerner of times, director of progressive events, and demonstrator of character.

References
Fichte, Johann Gottleib. The Vocation of the Scholar, trans. Wiliam Smith, London: John Chapman, 1794.



[1] Johann Gottleib Fichte, The Vocation of the Scholar (trans. Wiliam Smith, London: John Chapman, 1794).
[2] Fichte, The Vocation of the Scholar, 56
[3] Fichte, The Vocation of the Scholar, 56-57
[4] Fichte, The Vocation of the Scholar, 57
[5] Fichte, The Vocation of the Scholar, 58-59
[6] See Anthony C. Thiselton, The Two Horizons (Grand Rapids: The Paternoster Press, 1980).
Share:

Articles and Papers Download

Secularism and the Kingdom of Christ
(167.6 K)Religious Fundamentalism and Social Order
(123.9 K)Symbolic Logic
(117.5 K)Systems of Offences and Leaders of Change
(199.8 K)The Crime of Silence
(16.4 K)The Major Approaches to Religions
(203.0 K)Rational Epistemics of Divine Reality
(89.1 K)Psychology of Religion
(44.4 K)Mercy Seat
(44.3 K)Biblical Theology of Revelation
(30.8 K)Public Speaking
(65.3 K)Developing Patriotism in Children
(34.5 K)Plato on Parmenides
(82.1 K)Culture of Shame
(126.8 K)God is Not Silent
(28.6 K)Pentecostalism - A Historical Overview
(58.6 K)Kingdom of God and Secular World
(24.6 K)Philosophy of Religion
(21.1 K)Presenting Christ in a Relevant Way
(280.2 K)Vikaswad - Hindi Article on Evolutionism
(398.3 K)Ur of Chaldees - Hindi
(227.4 K)Faith of God
(41.4 K)Zero Reinterpreted (Hebrews 11)
(140.5 K)The Holy Spirit
(66.0 K)The God Who is Not Silent
(11.2 K)Christian and Medicines
(236.7 K)Theology of Clothing
(29.5 K)Viewing Religions Philosophically
(44.8 K)Magic and Religion - Epistemology
(15.4 K)Mission Approaches to Other Religions
(80.4 K)Dealing with Rejection the Jesus Way
(78.9 K)Dealing with Frustration the Jesus Way
(14.8 K)Democracy and Ethics
(169.7 K)Defending God?
(47.1 K)Problems in Hick's Model of Religious Pluralism
(79.0 K)Emotional Hardening and Justice
(132.1 K)Dealing with Denial
(74.5 K)Conflict Resolution in Interfaith Dialogues
(10.5 K)Breaking the Barriers of Mission
(81.0 K)Biblical Instructions for Family
(24.0 K)Beyond the Shadows
(23.0 K)Christ, Truth, and Politics
(93.7 K)Concepts and Dimensions of Conversion
(69.3 K)Estrangement and Belongedness in Christ's Ultimate Sacrifice
(107.2 K)Feasts of Israel
(51.1 K)Inter-personal Relationships-Bible
(259.6 K)Humanity and Divinity of Jesus
(398.5 K)The Just Shall Live by Faith - Homily
(132.4 K)Khasi Vocabulary
(154.1 K)Lord's Supper
(25.0 K)Idolatry
(117.3 K)Humanity and Divinity of Christ
(48.3 K)God cannot be doubted
(196.2 K)Feasts of Israel - Significance
(68.8 K)History of Conversions in India
(150.8 K)Epistemic Problems in Hick's Model of Religious Diversity
(32.4 K)How do you deal with your brother?
(15.8 K
Share:

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *