What is the New Government in India Up to?

Like a storm that grows fiercely strong, then calms down into a modest breeze, has been the advent of the BJP into the present political scene.

But what can be predicted ahead of all this? Let's use the following three tools to analyse that:

1. The Modus Operandi Tool. (The Empirical a posteriori Tool) The markets have already responded in prospect of predictions based on Modi's previous modus operandi and expressed commitment to economic empowerment of the nation. There are estimated statistics of the number of jobs that'll be created and economic surges to come. One needs to wait and see if the predicted market efficiency will be real.

2. The Essentialist Tool. (The a priori Tool) Will the BJP be patient to address its central and essential motives for choosing to become a political party? Issues like Article 370 on the Kashmir issue, a Uniform Civil Code, Anti-Horizontal Conversions, and the Ram Mandir can only be ignored given the zeitgeist of the Party has transited to more moderate weathers. The essentialist analysis would argue that the BJP will not abandon the fundamentals in the same way that it is impossible for the tiger to give up his tiger-nature; a compromise on the ideologically-related areas can indicate a compromise of essential identity. But, a political party of the second generation should not be fully equated with a tiger-cub of the second generation. The latter don't undergo nature-transformation; but, knowledge and historical experience can change a lot of things in humans - and, to be a human means to be open to constructive change, to have wider and more liberal vision.

3. The Existentialist Tool. This would rather be a bolder prediction if one views Modi not as an (or just an) essentialist but as an existentialist - someone who refuses to follow the dictates of the "previous"; someone who moves ahead to discover what is more meaningful and worthwhile at the present moment. Already, it seems that Modi hasn't taken into the working team the seniors - not because he disrespects them, but possibly because meaningfulness, team, and next-generational leadership succession is in focus. Also, his choice of his ministers looks quite simple and humble (much to the chagrin of others who would have opted for larger representation, experience, expertise, etc). The bigger position ought to force some of the ministers to humble themselves to listen and learn. Is that good for leadership (if one expects the leader to be the eyes of the team)? - But, that model of leadership may perhaps be dropped. The professionals always remain, though governments and ministers change. A leader is more a visionary and a servant, and may not always need to know everything. The very word "minister" means "servant".

One concern lies in the area of propaganda management (controlling the third Pramana, Sabda), which is usually what determines public opinion and majority vote. "What is seen is sold" and men can only listen and believe what is told (boldly, loudly, repeatedly, and convincingly). Will the BJP try to revise the history textbooks? Will it try to culturally guide the nation? The above three tools will give slightly different answers. We'll need to wait and see what will come to be. Truth, liberty, integrity, and efficiency is what the nation looks forward too.

I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior... (1Tim.2:1-3)

Sources of Dreams

A dream may be defined as "thoughts, images, and visions that pass through the mind while one is asleep" (cf. Daniel 4:5 (NIV); Daniel 2:29 (NKJV)).

There are at least three sources of dream:
1. The Human Body (The senses being awake to external stimuli while one is asleep).
2. The Soul (Mind, Will, Emotions)
3. The Spirit

1. Body
E.g. (a) A person hears someone calling his name in a dream; he awakes and finds that someone in reality had been calling his name.
(b) A hungry man sleeps and dreams of eating something; he awakes and finds that it was just a dream.

"as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched." (Isa 29:8 NIV)

2. Soul
E.g. (a) A scientist has been thinking a lot about a particular problem; in a dream, the thoughts converge into a solution.
(b) A depressed person experiences dreams of anxiety.
(c) A man has been watching or thinking of erotic themes and experiences the same in a dream or a series of night dreams.

"a dream comes through much activity" (Ecc 5:3 NKJ)
"If I say, 'My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,'then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions; so that my soul would choose suffocation, Death rather than my pains. (Job 7:13-15 NAU)

3. Spirit
(a) God can speak to a person through a dream. He may speak through a symbolic dream or speak directly in a theophany or speak through an angel. (Gen.20:3; 31:11; Dan.2:1; Matt.2:13)
(b) The Spirit gives dreams (Joel 2:28)

(c) In those who are not regenerated by the Spirit and in whom the Spirit of God doesn't dwell; evil spirits may be able to produce false images (thought-images) as dreams of the mind. The Bible talks of demons being able to inject thoughts in the minds of people (Acts 5:3).

However, there is no proof that the devil can inject thoughts through dreams in the mind of the redeemed. But, it seems from empirical data that evil spirits oppress the not-redeemed in ways that the not-redeemed sometimes experience nightmares.

Few Facts About Spiritual Dreams
1. Symbolic dreams given by God produce anxiety in the spirit to know the interpretation (Dan.2:1)
2. In a spiritual dream, the will of a child of God is not suspended; s/he can usually make a choice (1Kgs.3:5ff) and the choice is honored as if in a dreamless waking state.
3. God may come to us in a dream in order to warn us of something, promise us something, grant us something, or show us something (Matt.2:12; Acts 18:9,10; 23:11 (though this might have been a vision and not a dream); 1Kgs.3:5ff; Dan.2:45).

"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Joe 2:28 NKJ)

Couple of Renderings from Kamayani, the Great Hindi Epic

Kama-1, Kamayani. Jai Shankar Prasad

मैं देख रहा हूँ जो कुछ भी
वह सब क्या छाया उलझन है?
सुंदरता के इस परदे में
क्या अन्य धरा कोई धन है?
Is my vision of all I see a shadowy snare?
Or, the veil of beauty has some treasure unaware?

"यह नीड़ मनोहर कृतियों का
यह विश्व कर्म रंगस्थल है,
है परंपरा लग रही यहाँ
ठहरा जिसमें जितना बल है।
This world is a play theatre of nesty pleasant works,
The governing principle is that the strongest remain on earth

देखा तो सुंदर प्राची में
अरूणोदय का रस-रंग हुआ।
Behold in the beautiful east
the joyous blushing of the dawn!

New Kids Hindi Song - Oh Ho Yeshu Hei Adbhut


Whirlwinds Wind up Wonderfully (Poetry)

Whirlwinds wind up wonderfully
When the heart is in Christ reposed;
God abounds graciously
Where the heart to the world is closed;
Light glimmers lustrously
In a heart that's only to Christ disclosed.

Being a True and Just Citizen Today

Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes."The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." (Act 22:27-28 NKJ)

In Paul's time, citizenship was not determined by religion but by birth. Therefore, he could boldly say "I was born a citizen." Later on, when the emperor cults arose, Christians were persecuted in a religious pogrom that interpreted their refusal to offer sacrifices to the emperor as acts of treason. However, such religious nationalisms are illogical because citizens cannot be forced to change their belief-system when the "Head" of a State changes his - even to the extent of claiming himself as god. The very reason that government exists is in order to assure citizens the right to freedom.

Also, citizenship in Paul's time was not determined by race. That's why Paul could both be a Hebrew and Roman at the same time.

Roman citizens had special rights that others in the Empire didn't have. At the end of this article is a quote from Wikipedia describing those rights. For the concern of this article, however, we will only focus on how Paul made sure of being a responsible citizen.

1. Paul knew his citizenship rights. At least in three occassions, when he was punished by officials without trial in Acts 16, when he was about to be beaten again in Acts 22, and when he made his appeal to Caesar in Acts 25, we find him quoting the Roman Law. Many citizens suffer and help increase the amount of suffering in the nation because of a lack of awareness of the Law. There are rules about how long a person can be kept in custody, about appealing to courts, and many such laws that a true citizenship should make himself cognizant with. In fact, a citizen who doesn't know his rights only adds to the increase of corruption in government.

2. Paul made sure that no government official would violate the rights of another Roman citizen by slack of duty. In Acts 16: 37-38, he makes sure that negligence in duty by the officials and their violation of his rights were brought to their notice and rightly settled. In case, the violation was public, the redressal must also be public. The officials had got Paul and Silas beaten up and Roman law didn't permit any Roman to be beaten without a proper trial first. It is something similar to the police keeping a person in custody

Edmund Burke has rightly stated: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The forces of evil are like the law of decay: anything left to itself, unattended by the good, will get dilapidated - like a city in ruins. If a citizen doesn't demand his rights against governmental negligence of duty, then his silence is invitation to injustice and the forces of evil to openly prowl about in the city.

3. Paul prevented a governmental official from unawaringly violating a citizen's rights. In Acts 22, when there is an uproar in the city and the commander orders Paul to be bound and brought for examination under scourging, Paul quotes his Roman citizenship. A hyper-spiritual person may think it improper and comment that one should suffer for his faith; however, Paul puts his citizenship law above such irrational sentiments of hyperreligiosity. A citizen who allows violation of Law against him is not "being a citizen" in the active sense. A citizen who doesn't demand his rights is like a customer who pays the price for a commodity and leaves the shop without taking what he has bought with him. He unleashes confusion and anarchy. A true citizen will have the guts to look in the eyes of the violator and say, "What you're doing is not right, by the Law of this nation!"

4. Paul assisted the government in security issues by providing secret information against those who were conspiring to kill him. In Acts 23, when Paul came to know of the conspiracy to kill him, he immediately made arrangements for the information to be passed to the commander for change of action plan. Was it more a matter of personal security? Certainly, it was more than that. It was a citizen's moral act. To know of an evil, a conspiracy to crime and to violation of lawful procedures by means of unlawful acts of violence, and not inform of the same to the government is to assist the conspiracy against the government. To withhold any information necessary to the government for the security of the citizens is a greater crime, as it alienates the citizen from the state. It is like the eyes seeing a ditch ahead and not passing the information to the brain for immediate action - a citizenship failure.

5. Paul never sought release by means of bribe, though that could be an easy way out. Governor Felix didn't ask for a bribe directly; but, he only hoped. However, the Bible says that bribe perverts justice (Exo.23:8; Deut.16:19). A bribe doesn't just pervert justice for one man, but for the whole nation. It is an act of treason against justice. Paul had a clear conscience; however, even if he had really done something wrong, he would rather suffer for the wrong he did than add the crime of bribery and perversion of justice to the wrong.

6. Paul appealed to Caesar, to the highest court in the empire, when everything around only raged with contempt for true justice. Was Caesar just? That is not the question; as long as it is possible to appeal to a higher authority, to a higher court, the citizen must continue fighting for justice, as a just citizen.

7. Certainly Paul paid honor to whom honor was due, taxes to whom taxes were due, revenue to whom revenue was due, and he honored the king (Rom.13:7; 1Pet.2:17).

8. Paul worked for his living with his own hands and was never an economic burden on others (2Thess.3:8; 1Thess.2:9).

Roman Citizenship Rights (Wikipedia, accessed May 08, 2014)
The rights available to individual citizens of Rome varied over time, according to their place of origin, and their service to the state. They also varied under Roman law according to the classification of the individual within the state. Various legal classes were defined by the individual legal rights that they enjoyed. However, the possible rights available to citizens with whom Roman law addressed are:

  • The toga was the characteristic garment of the Roman male citizen, and statues of emperors (here Antoninus Pius) frequently depict them togatus

  • Ius suffragiorum: The right to vote in the Roman assemblies.

  • Ius honorum: The right to stand for civil or public office.

  • Ius commercii: The right to make legal contracts and to hold property as a Roman citizen.

  • Ius gentium: The legal recognition, developed in the 3rd century BC, of the growing international scope of Roman affairs, and the need for Roman law to deal with situations between Roman citizens and foreign persons. The jus gentium was therefore a Roman legal codification of the widely accepted international law of the time, and was based on highly developed commercial law of the Greek city-states and of other maritime powers. The rights afforded by the jus gentium were considered to be held by all persons; it is thus a concept of human rights rather than rights attached to citizenship.

  • Ius connubii: The right to have a lawful marriage with a Roman citizen, to have the legal rights of the paterfamilias over the family, and to have the children of any such marriage be counted as Roman citizens.

  • Ius migrationis: The right to preserve one's level of citizenship upon relocation to a polis of comparable status. For example, members of the cives romani (see below) maintained their full civitas when they migrated to a Roman colony with full rights under the law: a colonia civium Romanorum. Latins also had this right, and maintained their ius Latii if they relocated to a different Latin state or Latin colony (Latina colonia). This right did not preserve one's level of citizenship should one relocate to a colony of lesser legal status; full Roman citizens relocating to a Latina colonia were reduced to the level of the ius Latii, and such a migration and reduction in status had to be a voluntary act.

  • The right of immunity from some taxes and other legal obligations, especially local rules and regulations.

  • The right to sue in the courts and the right to be sued.

  • The right to have a legal trial (to appear before a proper court and to defend oneself).

  • The right to appeal from the decisions of magistrates and to appeal the lower court decisions.

  • A Roman citizen could not be tortured or whipped, nor could he receive the death penalty, unless he was found guilty of treason.

  • If accused of treason, a Roman citizen had the right to be tried in Rome, and even if sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be sentenced to die on the cross.

Clothing and Culture

Clothing and culture are closely knit together. Often, clothing is identified with culture. However, in modern times, people in most parts of the world are embracing a plurality of inter-cultural dress culture. The dominating influence is Western. People of some cultures have protested against the new dress forms (imported or innovated) as threatening the indigenous forms. Much can be written on the variety of issues that concern the dress ethic and theology. However, that is not the goal here.

One can take any of the many approaches to understand the origin, nature, function, and end of clothing. For instance, one can take the historical approach and study the origin and evolution of one or many dress forms; similarly, one can take the psychological approach and study human behavior and attitudes towards clothing from childhood to old age. Likewise, one can also take the religious approach and see what religion has to say about clothing with regard to sin, purity, ritual, and salvation, and religions have lot to say of this. A Christian theological approach would attempt to understand not only the historical dimension of clothing, but also its ethical and eschatological dimensions.

One important thing to note is that the Bible doesn’t lament a culture if that culture properly functions to safeguard the Christian virtues. However, it does oppose any culture that turns the natural into unnatural, that promotes a false sense of shame and honor and despises what God has divinely instituted in nature. Therefore, whenever a clothing or even hair style is culturally distinguished as masculine or feminine, violation of the same within that culture is considered unnatural by God – not because a dress form is absolutely masculine or feminine, but because the dress form in the language of the particular culture means either masculine or feminine (Deut.22:5; 1Cor.11:14). Therefore, violation of the dress form becomes a violation of nature itself in the same manner that one cannot violate grammar of a particular language and still make sense in that language. The argument that the violation doesn’t exist in another language will not apply in this particular language.

The 7 Purposes of Clothing
1. To cover nakedness, not expose it (Gen.3:21)
2. To protect shame, not promote shamelessness (Gen.3:7,21) 
3. To honor, not rebel (not rebellious dress forms, not for attracting through shock or provocation) (e.g. dress to honor various occasions like wedding. Jesus mentioned in his parable of the rich man's banquet that the man who didn't wear the wedding garment was thrown out, because he didn't honor the occasion, Matt.22:11; Gen.24:65)
4. To aid the body, not violate it (There are different clothing for different seasons - winter, summer, rainy; different clothing for different purposes: to protect against sun or wind or rain - hats, headgears, etc, 2Tim.4:13,21)
5. To celebrate fidelity, not become feast to the eyes of everyone (Sol.4:12).
6. To display modesty and humility, not trot out arrogance and pride (Isaiah 3:17-23; 1Pet.3:3,4)
7. To focus on inner beauty, not distract with or compensate with outer one (1Pet.3:3,4; Prov.31:30; Jer.2:33; 2Kings 9:30)

Raja-niti Vs Loka-niti (Sarvodaya's Quest for True Democracy)

Raja-niti refers to the politics of party and power ("raja" means king and "raj" means rule). It is the common word used for "politics" in India. In contrast to it, the Sarvodaya philosophers, especially Vinoba Bhave, in the Gandhian line promoted what they called as "Loka-niti", i.e. the politics of people. For the Gandhians, centralization of power in any form (dictatorial or "democratical") is a threat to swaraj (self-rule).

"...any state, with separated and strongly developed organs of legislation, execution, and judiciary in well organised large societies, cripples the free-play of individual's faculties and curbs his initiative by enlarging the regions of state control. Progressively it attains the position only next to air in its all-pervading nature. No matter whether such government is an elected representative of its people or a dictatorially established one against the will of the people, it unfailingly produces the evils of centralization and hence necessitates its own eradication for the sake of real democracy.... When the modern centralised state threatens the liberty of individual, of which it professes to be the guardian, it becomes the symbol of violence and a tool of exploitation, and as such loses its right to existence. That is why, according to Vinoba "power must pass into the hands of the people at all levels. Government must continually recede into the background or wither away." (Indu Tikekar, Integral Revolution: An Analytical Study of Gandhian Thought, 1970, p.102)

The philosophical basis of such a concept is a strong belief in goodness within man, in humanism, in the human spirit which is free, individualism, and a leaning towards communism. Of course, communism everywhere has only led away from "community-rule" to more dictatorial and totalitarian regimes - its tragedy. Indian thinkers may ascribe communism's failure to its fundamentalist anti-religious and its dialectical materialist understanding of people and politics. In contrast, "Sarvodaya" (well-being of all, which includes all living beings) begins from freedom of the spirit and rejects deterministic materialism. But, how does that justify Lokaniti?

"Sarvodaya exhorts the people to accept Lokaniti--the ethic of the people in social life--by eschewing Raja-niti. In his "Last Will and Testament" Gandhi had expressed a wish to transform the National Congress that stood "as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine" into a Loka-Sevak-Sangh--an organisation for the service of the people. He believed that it would attain the democratic goal in India by the avoidance of "unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies." This remained merely an unfulfilled dream.... Vinoba's Land-gift and Village-gift movements have been conceived to fulfill Gandhi's dream of village-republics (Grama-Swaraja). Through this movement Vinoba hopes to bring political liberty along with the legislative and executive powers from Delhi to the small five hundred thousand villages of India. It can be achieved through the transformation of Raja-Niti into Loka-Niti.

"Loka-Niti in contrast with Raja-Niti strives to establish the real values of democracy. It is the respectable and equal position of every citizen that constitutes the core of democracy. His liberty irrespective of caste, class and sex, is the life-breath of its successful rule. It is the fact of 'humanity' and not the ability, either physical or intellectual, that guarantees the right to security in every sense of the term, under its domain. But the model of democracy has the other and even more valuable side, namely, that of obligations. Every conscientious citizen is alert in shouldering his responsibilities and abhors external compulsion of every kind. Loka-Niti acknowledges the fact that more the citizen become vigilant about the interest and rights of his neighbours, the less the need of a third intervening agency to set order in human relationships and the better for the mutual co-operation of citizens. Then no coercion need spoil the harmony of the corporate life. Naturally, wakeful self-reliance and willing service, instead of grim authoritarianism and the alluring power, will prove the advancement on democratic lines. For this Gandhi had warned--"Swaraj government will be a sorry affair if people look up to it for the regulation of every detail of life." He also detected the dangers of increased governmental power: "I look upon an increase in the power of the state with the greatest fear, because, although apparently doing odd by minimising exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root of all progress." It is for the same reason that Vinoba Bhave warns the people against reliance on State, time and again. The shower of help by government, animated by welfarism should be a cause of anxiety for a real democrat since it blunts the sharpness of critical consciousness and tightens the knot of external authority, thus working for 'illfare' of the people. To the Sarvodaya thinkers the remedy lies in self-control which alone ensures self-rule.... In the society of self-ruled individuals, needless to say, no electioneering and struggle for power with the whole paraphernalia of propaganda machinery and machiavellian machinations can find any place." (Indu Tikekar, Integral Revolution: An Analytical Study of Gandhian Thought, 1970, pp.100-102)

Loka-Niti tries to balance self-rule with community-rule in a way that a citizen can both be self-aware and neighborly-aware, and is able to "love his neighbor as himself". Citizens don't look to the state for welfare, but themselves practice welfare conscientiously, mutually, and liberally.

Of course, the quest doesn't end here, though the ideal looks certainly sublime. There are psychological questions regarding the individual human by himself and in society that the philosophy needs to address. There are theological questions as well, regarding God, world, sin, and salvation that need to be addressed. In any case, a political theory can't hang on thin air; it must address the issues relevant to the individual, rational, moral, social, and spiritual man.

Isaac Had An Eleazar, But Jacob Had None

"Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. (Gen 28:2 NKJ)

Isaac had an Eleazar, but Jacob had none; he was to find a wife by himself, and that was done.

The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah have often been quoted as the ideal one. Of course, the entire episode is quite dramatic, and involves strong themes of obedience, faith, excitement, and wisdom. Jacob's story is also dramatic, and romantic as well, filled with episodes of heroism, love, deception, tragedy, patience, sly, escape, brokenness, surprise, mourning, and indefatigable faith.

We know it already that Isaac was very old when he sent Jacob away. Abraham was also very old when he had sent Eleazar away to find for Isaac a wife. But, though Abraham had an Eleazar to fetch a wife for Isaac, Isaac had none for Jacob; perhaps, he didn't think it was necessary. However, Isaac did have some instructions for his son, and Jacob followed them.

Isaac got married at 40 and had these twin sons at 60 (Gen.25:20,26). Certainly, it wouldn't have been difficult for Isaac to have married earlier; but, his problem was like looking for some drinkable water in the midst of a salty ocean; let's say, he could only marry a "believer". And, the only way that could be possible was to get out of this foreign place (where there was no believer girl around) and go to his father's land to find one. However, perhaps, either Isaac was unwilling to do that or Abraham wasn't willing to send his son. Whatever, Abraham had an Eleazar, and Eleazar, guided by divine providence, fetched Isaac a wife.

Jacob's twin elder brother Esau was not a very patient guy. He was governed by present need and could neither appreciate the universal absolutes nor sustain an eternal perspective. That is evident from the way he despised his birthright and traded it for a pot of stew. It is also evident from the way he went and got himself not one but two Hittite wives from the surrounding area (Why wait for a girl from Padan Aram when there were plenty beautiful ones around!). Of course, perhaps Isaac is to blame - we shouldn't say; Esau was already 40 and unmarried, and so did the thing which he thought was more immediately rational. But, Jacob was 40 too. However, there is one mark of Jacob that stands out through his entire story; unlike Esau, he was a patient boy, and he knew how to hold on to what he believed to be most valuable.

It's not very right to build a doctrine on speculation. However, perhaps we can safely assume that Isaac and Rebekah could be certain of at least one fact: their boy didn't need an Eleazar; he had the eyesight to find the pearl of great price and was determined enough to give away his all in order to get what he believed to be truly precious and invaluable.

Esau went a hunting and found no game.
He returned and settled instead for a pot of stew.
Jacob went a searching with a determined aim.
He got what he searched for, and returned not with few.

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2014

Made, Destined, and Perfected for WORSHIP

We are
1. Made for Worship (Rev.4:11; Ps.139:13-18; Job 10:10,11; Jn.9:3)
2. Destined for Worship (Rev.4:10,11)
- The Absolute Acknowledgement of the Source – “You Have”
- The Joyous Consideration of Our Purpose – “For Your Pleasure”
Col.1:16; Eph.1:10; 2:7
3. Meant to Worship (Acts 17:25-29) –To seek Him
4. Perfected for Worship (Ps.29:2; Heb 9:9,14; 10:19-22; Isa.61:3; Rev.15:4)

Tall Buildings

Tall and magnificent buildings do often elicit awe from meagre men who can't afford to build a room for themselves, perhaps hardly even find a place to rest their head. Jesus's disciples in Matthew 24 were also immensely stricken by the beauty of the famous Herod's Temple. However, Jesus had a different opinion. He saw the present with the eyes of its future. He told the disciples that not one of the Temple's stone would remain upon another. Isn't that also true of any major edifice we know of today? However, that doesn't undermine their present use. If there wasn't, Jesus would not have cleansed the Temple. However, we must also learn not to be wrongly awed by shadowy visibles, while remaining oblivious of the glorious world to come. It is better to remain awed by only things that will remain to the end, and forever.

Did Jesus Turn Water into Liquor?

There are at least two ways in which we can attempt to answer this question:

1. Historical Approach. Try to understand the wedding customs during Jesus' times and see if people in His times gave fermented wine at weddings. But, a general practice doesn't need to be a necessary practice in every instance. For instance, just because a few instances tell us that Christians play also secular music during weddings doesn't prove that they do so in every wedding. Also, every Christian wedding on the same day in the same town may not include non-vegetarian food in dinner.

2. Theological Approach. The logical method in theology would certainly conclude that Jesus could not have made fermented drink to help people get drunk in abundance. That would be a miracle that facilitated drunkenness. Certainly, He made pure unfermented grape juice. Grape juice continues to be served today in hotter regions. 

Some Observations by Jim McGuiggan

Source: Wine: Fermented and Unfermented (Accessed November 29, 2014)
Tirosh is most likely unfermented wine and is not intoxicating, when Psalm 4:7 tells us that harvesting it (along with grain) gladdens people’s hearts we can be sure it isn’t talking about it intoxicating them (see too Judges 9:13). Psalm 4:7 doesn’t even read as if a “drinking” experience is in view—it’s a harvesting experience; here’s the text (NIV and the rest): “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.”
However, Psalm 104:15 uses yayin and most scholars think the word “means” an intoxicating wine. It’s true that the word is used that way all over the place but there’s no reason to believe that that’s because the word itself “means” an intoxicating wine. The word yayin like the Greek word oinos is almost certainly a generic term and only the context determines whether or not it is intoxicating.
The Greek OT always renders yayin with oinos but it always renders tirosh with oinos. Scholarly consensus says tirosh is unfermented wine and yet the Greek OT translates it with oinos. What does that tell you? It tells you that they thought oinos can speak of unfermented or fermented wine. Since they used oinos to translate unfermented wine and since they used oinos to translate yayin we have every reason to believe that yayin like oinos is a generic term and that the context determines where intoxicating or non-intoxicating wine is in view.
Oinos is the juice of the grape and ancient literature is saturated with illustrations of oinos in various forms (sweet, bitter, new, old, fresh, spoiled, drugged, mixed and so forth).
Jesus speaks of the universal practice of putting “new wine” in new wineskins to avoid the loss of the wine if and when it fermented and the old bags already stretched to the limit would burst (Matthew 9:17). This presumes that what they put in the bags was not fermented or intoxicating. But he calls it neos oinos (new wine). Manifestly, then, oinos can speak of a non-fermented wine. [There’s even more to learn from this “parable”. We often hear silly things said; “The ancients couldn’t keep grape juice from fermenting because they didn’t have modern chemicals.” You hear people say that intoxicating wine is all they ever drank. This is demonstrably false and in addition, even the naturally fermented wine was usually watered as a table drink. It was nothing like the high-octane stuff the booze industry sells so much of.]

Norman Geisler on Drinking Wine

From "To Drink or Not To Drink: A Sober Look at the Question"
It is axiomatic that a Christian should not do what God condemns, and the Bible condemns the use of intoxicating drinks. The Hebrew word for strong drink is shekar. It is used 23 times in the OT and refers to intoxicating drink made from barley, pomegranates, dates, apples, or honey. The more common word is yayin. It is used 141 times, most of which means fermented grape juice. The Hebrew word tirosh,occasionally translated "new wine" means freshly pressed juice. It is used38 times in the OT (e.g. Gen 27: 28; Joel 2:24; Mic 6:15). In the NT the Greek word gleukos (meaning "sweet wine") is used for new wine (Acts 2:13). The word oinos is more widely used for wine (cf. Eph 5:18). The following passages condemn the use of strong drink (shekar): "Wine is a mocker [yayin], intoxicating drink [shekar] arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise" (Prov 20:1).....
The NT exhortations about intoxicating drinks follow those in the OT. Paul wrote, "Now I have written unto you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard—not even to eat with such a person" (1 Cor 5:11). "Do you not know that . . . Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals . . . nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9–11). "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation [debauchery]" (Eph 5:18).
From "A Christian Perspective on Wine Drinking"
Stein also observes that "in several instances in the Old Testament a distinction is made between 'wine' and 'strong drink'" (e.g., Lev. 10:8-9). Strong drink is one thing, wine is another thing. The same distinction is made in Deuteronomy 14:26; 29:6; Judges 13:4; and elsewhere. According to the Talmud the "wine" used in the Passover meal was three parts water and one part wine (cf. 2 Macc. 15:39).(9)

It may also be that the wine Jesus miraculously provided at the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-11) was a similar drink, that is, wine mixed with water. The word oinos ("wine") refers sometimes to fermented grape juice (e.g., Eph. 5:18) and sometimes to fresh, not fully fermented grape juice (e.g., Rev. 19:15). Furthermore, in ancient times not many beverages were safe to drink. Stein indicates that in the ancient world water could be made safe in one of several ways. It could be boiled, but this was tedious and costly. Or it could be filtered, but this was not a safe method. Or some wine could be put in the water to kill the germs -- one part wine with three or four parts water.

Wine today has a much higher level of alcohol than wine in the New Testament. In fact in New Testament times one would need to drink twenty-two glasses of wine in order to consume the large amount of alcohol in two martinis today. Stein humorously notes, "In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one's drinking would probably affect the bladder long before the mind."

Updated on Dec 5, 2014

Nakedness, Shame, and Shamelessness

Excerpted from Hamartiology (2006)

Shame is the result of eyes being opened. Man sees, therefore he shies. The knowledge of good and evil, thus, first produces the sense of shame. An analysis of shame reveals the following characteristics of the newly obtained knowledge:

* Self-consciousness. It is not merely the consciousness of one’s existence; but the consciousness of one’s existence above and against others. One who doesn’t possess this kind of self-consciousness is never ashamed since he is lost in the consciousness of the other.
* Other-consciousness. Before the Fall, Adam saw Eve as a bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh. Now he sees her as other. The personal psyche of autonomy has cleft humanity into a plurality of polities.

Consequently, shame is the result of a distortion of dharmic love-relationship. Shamelessness is not the opposite of shame but a willful digression from it. Shamelessness only occurs in the presence of divine revelation. It occurs as the willful suppression of divine truth and revolt against the eternal order. While shame is a non-volitional result, shamelessness is willful self-overbearing, the thrust of self against the eternal order.

The Meaning and Nature of Sin

 Excerpted from Hamartiology (2006)

Sin can only be sin if it has an eternal dimension. Sin can only have an eternal dimension if there are eternal beings. Sin can be said to have an eternal dimension only if there is an eternal order that it violates so as to have eternal repercussions. In this sense, then, sin is the violation of an eternal order. ‘Where there is no law, there is no transgression.’

Sin exists as a disruptive factor among eternal beings. The eternal order is founded upon the nature of the Source (of all being): God the eternal Spirit. Consequentially, the eternal order is an order of love. Truth is the consistent characteristic of this eternal order; therefore, justice is the necessary antidote to the violation of the order.

Therefore, sin is essentially the distortion of love and truth with eternal repercussions. In other words, it is a violation of the eternal order (definitive) of love and truth. A violation of the eternal order is directed against the Source & Ground of the eternal order – God. In this sense, then, sin is primarily always sin against God and then sin against others. Thus, sin cannot be defined in terms of temporal comfort and consent. In other words, no individual or group of people by reference to present comfort and mutual consent can redefine what sin is and what sin is not. Sin is never merely temporal; it is cosmic.

8 Lessons from the Book of Job

1. Suffering has meaning (Job.23:10)
2. Mourning is not despair (Job 6:10; 7:6; 14:7; 19:10; 13:15)
3. Bad theology never glorifies God (Job 4:15; 8:8; 15:10)
(spiritual privilege, tradition, experience are not the bases)
4. Silence comforts more than words or speech (Job 16:2; 13:5)
5. It’s before God that a man stands or falls. (Job 13:1-4; Rom.14:4)
So stay focused on Him. Job didn’t give in to the counsel of his friends
6. We only know the outskirts (edges) of His ways (Job 26:14)
7. God knows and God cares (Job 38-41)
8. God doesn’t write tragedies
- He never made a piece of junk
- He never designed failure

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