Do Race and Religion Define Nationality? Semantic Analyses

To define nationality in terms of race and religion will immediately lead to confusion.

For instance, if we define the term "Indian" (a nationality identifier) as "a person who belongs to the ancient races of the mainland of Hindustan and follows one of the ancient religions of the land, e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, etc", then we immediately land into the following problems:

1. A Japanese Buddhist will not be considered an "Indian" because though he follows an ancient religion of the land, Buddhism, he doesn't belong to one of the ancient races of India.
2. Suppose, the same definition is accepted by the Japanese, i.e. they define "Japanese" as "a person who belongs to the ancient races of the mainland of Japan and follows one of the ancient religions of the land, e.g. Shintoism", then because he doesn't follow the religion of Shintoism but follows Buddhism, he will be no longer considered "Japanese" anymore.
3. However, if he is neither Japanese nor Indian, then what is he?

But, let's define "Indian" as "a person who is a citizen of India", then the confusion disappears.

Yet, it doesn't mean that "Indian" loses its meaning as an ethnic identifier. For instance, in the term "Indian American", the ethnic identity (Indian) is retained within the national identity (American)1. Similarly so with "African-American" and "Chinese American".

As such, it is important to distinguish between political nationality and ethnic identity. They both can go together, but must not be confused with each other. However, a political nation that serves the interests of a particular ethnic group will soon fall to unrest and tyranny. Similarly, a political nation that serves the interests of a particular religious group will also fall to unrest and tyranny.

The ethnic distinguisher should only be functional. For instance, though we may speak of, say, "Indian Americans" in the form of Ethnic-Identity+Political-Nationality, we don't speak of "Indian Indians" and "American Americans" in the same form. However, we can still speak of "Indian Tamils" (or "Tamil Indians") or "Sri Lankan Tamils" or "Pakistani Punjabis" or "Indian Punjabis". Of course, terminology identifying Americans who accept Indian citizenship or Germans who accept Indian citizenship hasn't developed much. It is not yet popular to speak of "German Indians", for instance, as Germans who have accepted Indian citizenship. The phenomena may not be large enough to warrant the development of such a terminology, perhaps.

But, with regard to religious identity, given either the political identity or the ethnic identity, it is not impossible to talk of say "Indian Christians" or "Thai Hindus" or "Tibetan Buddhists", and similarly of "Indian Christians in America" and "Gujarati Jains in Dubai". However, where race and religion are made defining components of nationhood, no meaningful talk can become possible. The result is chaos and unrest. Consistency demands that these identifiers be kept separate and not made definitive of something altogether different from any of them.

NOTES

1 "American Indian" refers to the native Americans.


FEW QUOTES FROM

Ernst Renan (1823-92), What is a Nation?
Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical studies often constitutes a danger for [the principle of] nationality. Indeed, historical enquiry brings to light deeds of violence which took place at the origin of all political formations, even of those whose consequences have been altogether beneficial.

Yet the essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common; and also that they have forgotten many things. No French citizen knows whether he is a Burgundian, an Alan, a Taifale, or a Visigoth, yet every French citizen has to have forgotten the massacre of Saint Bartholomew,' or the massacres that took place in the Midi in the thirteenth century. There are not ten families in France that can supply proof of their Frankish origin, and any such proof would anyway be essentially flawed, as a consequence of countless unknown alliances which are liable to disrupt any genealogical system.

But what is a nation? Why is Holland a nation, when Hanover, or the Grand Duchy of Parma, are not? How is it that France continues to be a nation, when the principle which created it has disappeared? How is it that Switzerland, which has three languages, two religions, and three or four races, is a nation, when Tuscany, which is so homogeneous, is not one? Why is Austria a state and not a nation? In what ways does the principle of nationality differ from that of races?

Ethnographic considerations have therefore played no part in the constitution of modern nations. France is [at once] Celtic, Iberic, and Germanic. Germany is Germanic, Celtic and Slav. Italy is the country where the ethnographic argument is most confounded. Gauls, Etruscans, Pelasgians, and Greeks, not to mention many other elements, intersect in an indecipherable mixture. The British isles, considered as a whole, present a mixture of Celtic and Germanic blood, the proportions of which are singularly difficult to define.

The truth is that there is no pure race and that to make politics depend upon ethnographic analysis is to surrender it to a chimera. The noblest countries, England, France, and Italy, are those where the blood is the most mixed. Is Germany an exception in this respect? Is it a purely Germanic country? This is a complete illusion.

What we have just said of race applies to language too. Language invites people to unite, but it does not force them to do so. The United States and England, Latin America and Spain, speak the same languages yet do not form single nations. Conversely, Switzerland, so well made, since site was made with the consent of her different parts, numbers three or four languages. There is something in man which is superior to language, namely, the will. The will of Switzerland to be united, in spite of the diversity of her dialects, is a fact of far greater importance than a similitude often obtained by various vexatious measures.

Religion cannot supply an adequate basis for the constitution of a modern nationality either. Originally, religion had to do with the very existence of the social group, which was itself an extension of the family. Religion and the rites were family rites. The religion of Athens was the cult of Athens itself, of its mythical founders, of its laws and its customs; it implied no theological dogma. This religion was, in the strongest sense of the term, a state religion. One was not an Athenian if one refused to practise it. This religion was, fundamentally, the cult of the Acropolis personified. To swear on the altar of Aglauros" was to swear that one would die for the patrie. This religion was the equivalent of what the act of drawing lots [for military service], or the cult of the flag, is for us. Refusing to take part in such a cult would be the equivalent, in our modern societies, of refusing military service. It would be like declaring that one was not Athenian. From another angle, it is clear that such a cult had do meaning for someone who was not from Athens; there was also no attempt made to proselytize foreigners and to force them to accept it; the slaves of Athens did not practise it. Things were much the same in a number of small medieval republics. One was not considered a good Venetian if one did not swear by Saint Mark; nor a good Amalfitan if one did not set Saint Andrew higher than all the other saints in paradise.

A nation is a spiritual principle, the outcome of the profound complications of history; it is a spiritual family not a group determined by the shape of the earth. We have now seen what things are not adequate for the creation of such a spiritual principle, namely, race, language, material interest, religious affinities, geography, and military necessity. What more then is required? .....
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form. Man, Gentlemen, does not improvise. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion. Of all cults, that of the ancestors is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (by which I understand genuine glory), this is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea. To have common glories in the past and to have a common will in the present; to have performed great deeds together, to wish to perform still more - these are the essential conditions for being a people. One loves in proportion to the sacrifices to which one has consented, and in proportion to the ills that one has suffered. One loves the house that one has built and that one has handed down. The Spartan song -'We are what you were; we, will be what you are" - is, in its simplicity, the abridged hymn of every patrie.

A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future. It presupposes a past; it is summarized, however, in the present by a tangible fact, namely, consent, the clearly expressed desire to continue a common life. A nation's existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual's existence is a perpetual affirmation of life. That, I know full well, is less metaphysical than divine right and less brutal than so-called historical right.
Share:

Is the Idea of a Christian Nation Rational and Biblical?

JESUS made a distinction between what belonged to Caesar and what belonged to God (Matt.22:21). He also spoke of His Kingdom as "not of this world" (Jn. 18:36). The New Testament clearly marks off the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man as two separate realms. Of course, even in the kingdom of man, political authority ultimately comes from God (Rom.13:1,2). But, that doesn't certainly make politics "Christian". For instance, Nebuchadnezzar's authority came from God (Dan.2:37), but that didn't make his kingdom a Christian kingdom or his way of doing politics "Christian". Similarly, Cyrus was called the "anointed" of God (Isa.45:1), but that didn't make the Medo-Persian empire Christian.

It is always a threat to both politics and religion to fuse both of them together: not only do the people suffer, but they lose their freedom of religion as well. It doesn't matter which religion it may be, the loss of liberty is certain and when liberty is lost, politics loses a fundamental pillar.

Let's say, for instance, a "Christian nation". The next question would be "Catholic" or "Protestant"? History is not silent about the fact that whenever one of the traditions came to power, the other suffered. But, again, it's not just limited to "Catholic" or "Protestant". The same is the case also with, say an "Islamic nation". The next question would be "Shia" or "Sunni"? Again, say a "Buddhist nation". The next question would be "Theravada or Mahayana". And, one is aware what ramifications that has. Religion and state simply cannot ensure liberty. Not that liberty is lawless; but, when religion is enforced it loses its religious spirit.

"But, what about Jewish nationalism in the Old Testament?" one may ask. Clearly, there religion and state look indivisible. Jewish nationalism certainly was an issue when the Jews asked the question about whether it was right to render taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus' answer was that one must render what was due to the other, in this case what belonged to Caesar must be rendered to Caesar (Rom.13:7). In other words, it didn't matter what religious or ideological affiliation a state may have, religion and politics were still separate. Even in the Old Testament, there is a case when a king was struck with leprosy when he tried to mix up the two realms of authority (2Chr.16:18); also, there is a case where the monarch interfered in a religious matter when it became a political issue (1Kgs.2:27).

There will always be some ideological or religious/theological approach to politics. It is impossible for politics to be scientific, after all. Even science cannot be segregated from philosophy (much to the chagrin of the logical positivists or the 50s era); we do have a discipline called "Philosophy of Science". The logical positivists thought philosophy died under the sword of science, without considering the fact that science was still a servant to philosophy; it did what ideologies such as communism, humanism, or some religion said. Science provided the weapons, but ideologies decided how to (or whether to) use them.

Thus, it was possible for Daniel to offer a Biblical perspective of history and politics to Nebuchadnezzar while still serving as a servant in the Babylonian kingdom (Dan.2:37,39). His theology of politics didn't prevent him from involvement in politics; however, when a law made by the king conflicted with his theology, he chose to abide true to faith (Dan.6:7,10). But, in no way did he try to impose religion upon the state. He knew the Kingdom of God would come, but it was not going to be by any human hands (Dan.2:34,45). To Daniel, a proper biblical theology of politics and theology of history strongly conformed to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in both politics and history.

Thus, we do have a "Christian theology of politics" or let's call it "Christian politics", not in the sense that it was a politics in which Christians are engaged, but in the sense that it is a Christian view of politics - and, there have been various theologies of politics (e.g. Augustinian, Thomistic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, etc). Similarly, there are also various Islamic approaches to politics.

Luther's political theology of politics and the church being two separate realms doesn't allow the concept of a "Christian Nation" anymore. Politics is secular (this-worldly).

However, what if we keep the ideas of "nation" (as people of a country - not according to race or religion, but according to citizenship) and of "state" (as a political system) separate, then can one speak in terms of "Muslim nation", "Christian nation", and "Hindu nation" -- without meaning "Muslim state", "Christian state", and "Hindu state"?

Let's say "America is a Christian nation but not a Christian state, because Christianity is not the state religion of America". Well, if "nation" has nothing to do with politics at all, i.e. one doesn't use the term "nation" in the sense of a political nation, then there is no reason why one can't speak of a "Christian nation" or even of a "Hindu nation". However, generally that is not the case. When one talks of nation, the idea of a political nation does come into the mind. And, of course there is nothing like a religious nation (if it were there, it would not respect political boundaries and so the political adjective becomes meaningless). A nation can only be political, and nationality is political, not religious. To use the term "Christian nation" or "Muslim nation" or "Hindu nation" is to categorize nation under a particular religion, as a religious nation. That is a contradiction in terms and so is illogical and unbiblical as well. On the other hand, one can safely use terms like "Indian Christians" or "American Christians", since such terms carry the idea of individual religious affiliations of citizens in a country.
Share:

Blogger MS Docx Footnotes Link Issues Solution

If you have tried to copy-paste a Microsoft document into your blogger post, you may have noticed that the footnotes of the document link to the local file on the computer drive: e.g. to file:///D:/Test.docx#_ftnref1. As a result, when someone clicks on the link, it returns an error.

Solution:
1. After copy-pasting the text in Compose mode on blogger, turn to HTML mode.
2. Select all text, cut, paste it to Notepad.
3. Find the link text (e.g. file:///D:/Test.docx#_ftnref1) and copy till .docx (leave #ftnref.. as it is).
4. Hit CTRL+H to show Replace box and paste the link into the Find what box; leave the Replace with box blank.
5. Hit Replace All
6. Now, select all text again, copy it, and paste into the blogger box in the HTML mode.
7. Publish

NOTE: Never revert to Compose mode or else the links will reappear as https://draft.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID.... (But, in case you have done and the links appear so, repeat the process of select-copy-paste to notepad and deleting https://draft.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID... all over again before pasting it back to blogger).
2. In the HTML mode, the link on the Text must look like this: a href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title="". The link on the Footnote must look like this: a href="#_ftnref1" name="_ftn1" title=""

Result
This is a test text.[1]



[1] This is a test footnote
Share:

Great Commandment in Apposition to the Great Commission

The Good Samaritan (Wikimedia)

Citations:

The Great Commandment is the essential law of the church; the Great Commission is the missional task of the church. The both cannot be confused. To love is a rule and principle that would never cease to be; to preach is an obligation that will soon cease to be. That is one reason why caring for the poor, the orphans, and the widows is considered to be pure religion (James 1:27). The liberational causes and the cause of justice and mercy are principle causes – things that the church cannot silently ignore when it has the power not to ignore. To love one’s neighbor as oneself is an essential obligation. In most cases, one may not preach but still be a Christian, and draw others through a silent conformity to the essential Christian principle of love (1Peter 3:1). Being precedes manifestation.

The ethical rule must not be confused with the ecclesiastical task. To love is not a task; it is an essential principle. Jesus said that His disciples will be known by the love they have for one another (John 13:35). To love is not a mission that Jesus has committed to the church – to take care of the poor, orphans, and widows was a moral obligation required even in the Old Testament....

The ecclesiastical task must flow out of the essential ethic. Love is the motive of evangelism; evangelism is not the motive of love. The messenger cannot shirk off his essential obligation to love and merely preach the Gospel for the sake of a job to be done. Jesus considered the caring responses of the Good Samaritan as more important than the temple services of the Levite and the priest. The essential obligation to love was more important than even the ecclesiastical office. In essence, one evangelizes because and out of love; one doesn’t love in order to evangelize. Therefore, social service with the aim of evangelization is hypocrisy. However, where evangelism exists, social service is bound to co-exist.

To posit the principle of operation as the goal of the operation is a confusion of identity. Love is the principle of which evangelization is only a time-bound goal – though covering eternity. Certainly, there are also things other than evangelization that the principle of love, commanded under the new covenant, covers. However, evangelization is core outreaching of the principle of love, for it aims at an everlasting result – the salvation of persons. As such it is the essential concern of being (against death for life) in opposition to the temporal concerns of the secular. Evangelization answers the ultimate existential concern of being-towards-life.

The task only exists because the law of being is violated. Mission exists because love is confused. Therefore, reconciliation is the prime goal. Spiritual reconciliation is lame where the pictures of equality, equity, compassion, and justice are not concretely visible. The mission lies lame because the law of being remains violated (both vertically towards God and horizontally towards fellow humans). Love towards God is the attitude and act of glorifying God; it follows love of one’s neighbor (brother and sister) as oneself (1John 4:20-21).
--Marbaniang, ("Globalization and Gospelization", Paper presented at Mission Consultation, Pune, January 2014.)

There is...no better time to explore the relationship between making disciples and living as disciples in the world, or the Great Commission and the Great Commandment....

At their simplest levels, the Great Command-ment and the Great Commission follow the distinction between law and gospel. A young lawyer asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:36-40). Jesus was simply repeating Moses (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). The second is like the first not only because it summarizes the second table of the law (love for neighbor), but because love for God is inextricable from love of fellow image-bearers.

Of course, the Great Commission is also a command, but it differs from the Great Commandment in several ways. First, they differ in their subjects. The Great Commandment is given to all people in every time and place, while the Great Commission is given to the church alone. Second, they differ in their mandate. The Great Commandment calls all people to love God and neighbor, while the Great Commission calls the church to make disciples of Christ. Third, they differ in their methods. The Great Commandment is natural, inscribed on the human conscience in creation as part of the image of God, and these natural precepts are codified and enforced by social institutions (the family, various voluntary associations, and the state). The gospel, however, is not something that all people know inwardly and innately; it's a surprising announcement that must be proclaimed....

Collapsing the gospel into the law and the Great Commission into the Great Commandment, many Christians today speak of our "living the gospel," even "being the gospel," with gratuitous appeals to participate with God in his redeeming and reconciling activity through their good works. However, this rhetoric is in danger of advancing another gospel, which is no gospel but rather the summary of the law....

Paradoxically, it is only when the church is doing something other than engaging in social justice missions that it actually shapes members "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [their] God" (Mic. 6:8).
...................................................
Distinction without Separation
The Cultural Mandate

Key Verse: Genesis 1:28: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Activities: Family, Culture-Making and Renewal, Art, Music, Commerce, Politics
The Great Commandment
Key Verse: Matthew 22:37-40: "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Activities: Hospitality, Visiting the Sick, Feeding the Poor, Caring for the Needy
The Great Commission
Key Verse: Matthew 28:19-20: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Activities: Preaching, Word and Sacrament Ministry, Discipline, Discipleship, Catechesis
...................................................
--Michael S. Horton (Justification and Justice: The Great Commission and the Great Commandment, Modern Reformation, Issue: "Social Justice: Social Gospel?" Sept./Oct. 2011 Vol. 20 No. 5 Page number(s): 14-19, 26. Accessed Sept 29, 2014). Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California)

Our criticism of Transformation Theology is not directed against its call to the social responsibility of Missions. We are in no way against works of love, but well against the massive shift of priority from preaching to social responsibility; for by this the Gospel threatens to become an ideological programme. We grant the theologians of Transformation their justified concern that conversion, change of mind and discipleship should have social, ethical and structural consequences. But we oppose their projected impression that man is the “maker” of the kingdom of God and that his salvation would be, as it were, made manifest only through his deeds. This would amount to a new “salvation by works”.

...Today, evangelical missions are in the same danger if they embrace programmes which are called “holistic”, “incarnatory” or, as mentioned already, “transforming” mission. Here the concerns for the physical and social well-being of man threaten to outshine eternal salvation.
--("World Evangelization or World Transformation?", International Christian Network, Tübingen, Pentecost 2013)
Share:

The Leader and Lies

Pinocchio's nose grew with every lie he spoke
If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked. (Pro 29:12 NKJ)


Nothing is more damaging than building a leadership system upon the foundation of lies.

Gossip Lies
A leader who believes lies and rumors and changes the way he relates to or treats people only encourages wickedness; for, the liars get closer to him while the righteous move away. Therefore, the Bible strongly commands a leader not to receive any accusation against anyone except there were two or three witnesses (1Tim.5:19). One must remember that the case of the first always appears strong. A good leader will listen to both the sides and observes transparency and spirit of good-will (Prov.18:17).

Lies of Vileness
Similarly, when a leader begins to extol vice as virtue and discourages virtue as if it was vice, he unleashes wickedness and chaos (Isa.5:20; Psa.12:8; Rom.1:25,26)

Lies of Pride
Lies of pride are what feed the megalomaniac desires of a leader who is hungry for power and doesn't like to bow down to serve people. What one sows is what one reaps. He becomes like Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who listened to younger men and refused to light the burden of his people. It immediately led to the division of the Kingdom (1Kgs.12:3-17).

But, when the foundation of leadership is truth and righteousness, then is mercy, truth, and peace found among people (Psa.89:14).

Image: Wikipedia
Share:

Ambition and Strong-Will

There is one indispensable trait that one must look for when counting on a person for a work: the fear of the Lord. Ask yourself the question, "Does this person have the fear of the Lord?" If you see the person joking fearlessly, showing insensitivity towards God in his/her talk, interested more in things of the world than in things of God, then one must remember that such a person will have no absolute reason to stay away from evil. It is only by the fear of the Lord that one departs from evil (Prov.16:6). Joseph was a man who feared the Lord, and his master profited well when he entrusted his work to him, because the blessing of the Lord was with Joseph. On the other hand, it would be dangerous to trust anyone who doesn't have the fear of the Lord (John 2:24,25).

But, there is another trait that is not negligible when getting into business with someone or when appointing a person in a leadership position: ambition, strong-will. Ambition is not to be confused with stubbornness or stiff-neckedness, the trait of the fool (Pro.29:1). Foolish ambition is certainly dangerous. However, ambition in the sense of having a strong desire to win (not to defeat others, but to win) is healthy. On the other hand, weak-will is dangerous as it is easily susceptible to deception and lure (2Tim.3:6, CJB). The weak-willed fall easily under the sway of influence, but the strong-willed speak up, raise objection, counter, and create influence. The strong-willed have a voice and they want it to be heard.

False ambition, however, is dangerous. It can lead to foolish and hazardous undertakings. False ambition also has nothing to do with truth but is ego-centric. It doesn't care for true knowledge because it is all the while only busy thinking how to defeat, oppose, and undermine the other in order to exalt the self. Such kind of egotistic ambition will heap up arguments after arguments, but will never have a conclusion of its own - only so that it can continue in perpetual antagonism (1Tim.6:3-5). The Bible exhorts us to turn away from people who have ambition but do not have the fear of the Lord (1Tim.6:5). But, right ambition is bold about truth and doesn't submit at any cost to folly of any kind.

There is a false view about "ego", that self-denial involves killing your own voice and not becoming proactive. That is not the Christian self-denial that Jesus exemplified. There are some who have even objected to Jesus's exclusivist claims like "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" saying that these claims are too egotistical. Such objections have sprung from a deeply damaged self-esteem culture, where one is encouraged to not be bold about truth anymore for the sake of modesty. But, such modesty is weak-willed and such humility is false. G.K. Chesterton diagnosed it well when he wrote:

Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth: this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert-himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason... The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping: not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether. (Orthodoxy)

When someone asked Peter J. Daniels, the Australian entrepreneur, what he looked for in a person before hiring him, he replied instantly, "Ego". He continued that they looked for a person with strong ego because that person has will and power to go and and get things done. He may oppose, he may object; but, he will also strive to do the best.

Fear of the Lord coupled with strong ambition sparks passion that is not foolish but wise and seeks above everything else the pleasure of heaven.

Fear of the Lord: Wisdom, Departure from Evil, Humility, Sincerity, Openness, Trust, Faithfulness, Favor of God
Ambition: Passion, Confidence, Desire, Drive, Energy, Assertion, Faith, Creativity, Proactiveness
Share:

ABCs of Email Etiquette

IN an age of lightning-fast communication, sms texting, chatting, and emailing, there is the danger of losing etiquette in communication. This becomes a serious issue with regard to email communications. Following are few of the many things that must come handy when using email for communication.

A - Address & Attachments

Check the email id before replying or else you may either have sent the message to someone else or will be embarrassed by a Delivery Failure Response. Also, avoid sending business emails from email ids such as funnyboyz0018@....com. It creates the impression of you being unprofessional. Check the attached files before sending them. Also, if you have mentioned in the mail that you are attaching a file, check if the file has been attached before hitting the "Send" button.

B - Brevity & Bandwidth

Try to keep business mails as brief as possible. Emails are best when they are brief and stick to that one singular subject filled out in the box called "Subject". Respect other people's bandwidth. Compress or resize large files if you need to send them.

C - Clarity & CC

Clearly articulate what you wish to communicate. An abstruse message not only wastes time but also confounds, if not irritate. The CC option is FYI (For Your Information) copy and the email ids submitted there are seen by all. The BCC emails are hidden from all. Use them as needed and properly.

D - Deliberation

"Think twice before you speak once" also applies to email communication, especially. Don't just write anything just because you think you need to write something.

E- Emoticons

Try avoiding emoticons in business and formal writing. Emoticons and smileys may only be proper for personal emails and must never be used in business writing.

F- Forwarding

Be careful when forwarding an email to someone else. You need to be sure the writer would not be offended by it. Also, only forward mails if you think it is necessary and try to explain with a little note to the recipient why you think this forward is important. Remember that "forwarding" doesn't rate up as "communicating" and can never be a substitute for the latter. Better, don't forward emails very much. Especially, don't forward emails that may be spam or hoax emails. Try to check them out at snopes.com, preferably first.

G- Greeting, Concluding, and Grammar/Spelling

Greet properly. Don't just drop in suddenly without any proper salutation. Know when and how to use various forms of greeting and use them properly, to the occasion. Be polite. Also, end the email with a proper concluding remark; for instance, "Warm Regards," or "Sincerely". If you're not sure how to close the email with, then simply close it with the word "Thanks".

Sms and chatting habits easily creep into email writing and damage formal writing skills. Check your grammar before you hit the "Send" button. A bad grammar could render a message either unintelligible or miscommunicated. Also, check your spelling. You may remember the story of a secretary who mistyped "affect" for "effect" and so caused such a great loss to her company that her boss was fired for signing the misspelled letter.

H- Helmet-Emailing or Flaming

Don't use emails as shields behind which you can hide while flaming others. Write keeping the person as person before you in mind. Write as if communicating in person. Don't just write something off and then hit the "Send" button thinking you're safe behind the computer screen.

I- Information

Make sure you have included all necessary information necessary for your message to be properly understood and be properly responded to or acted upon. Type complete and meaningful sentences.

J- Jokes

Email may not be the right place for communicating tongue-in-cheek humor. Also, don't insert a joke where it might be read not as a joke but as something serious. Avoid sarcasms.

K- Keep It Short And Simple

Avoid long sentences. Also, avoid long mails.

L- Language

Forgive the language of someone who is kind enough to reply but doesn't have English as his/her first language. Try to understand as you wish to be understood.

M- Mood

Never send an email when you are in a bad mood or are upset.

N- Nicety

Observe nicety in your email communication. Use preciseness, politeness, and propriety.

O- Omissions

It is advisable to mention why you are omitting response to a point when you omit it in a reply, and also stating if you think you wish to respond to it later. Responding but omitting a point might indicate that either you didn't consider the point worth a response or you were too careless about reading this particular mail.

P- Priority

Address priority points first. Respond to the most important things first.

Q- Queries

Check if you have responded to every query, or at least, mentioned that you wish not to respond (if not why).

R- Reply

Read the email properly before you decide to reply. Reply to the mails that anticipate a reply and that you wish to reply to as quickly as possible. Don't procrastinate; otherwise, either you may forget or the reply might become too belated. Also, reply to each query or point in the email properly and clearly. Don't assume that you don't need to reply to a mail, unless you plan to discourage the sender from writing to you. Also, make sure that you really need to do it when you choose "Reply all". Also, you don't need to reply to every email, especially spam.

S- Subject Line & Signature

Try to keep one mail per subject so that it is easier for the recipient to respond to each topic separately. Try to keep the subject line as clear as possible, so that part of what you want to say is already communicated in the subject line. Your Signature must be proper and not include unnecessary details.

T- Time and Timezone

Remember the location/time-zone of the recipient; their business hours may come later than yours.

U- Upper Case

Don't use all upper case letters. Upper case letters must only be used for emphasis. Using all caps indicates rashness, hurriedness, or even YELLING and is considered bad etiquette. Similarly, using only all lower cases (small letters) gives the impression that either you are lazy or you are not well literate.

V- Vanity Check

Don't decorate emails with vain formatting, colors, and stylish fonts. They create the impression of vanity.

W- Walls/Boundaries

Mind your boundaries. Respect boundaries that are yours and also boundaries of others. The very concept of communication involves an understanding of boundaries.

X- X-Factor

Not only reply to the questions asked by the sender, but also reply to questions that the sender is likely to ask in the next mail. Be proactive. Anticipate. Go beyond the box as necessary.

Y- Yet-To-Reply

Mark as unread mails that you wish to reply later. If you wish to reply very late, then it is proper to send a short message that you have read the mail and perused its content and would need some time before you can reply. Simple silence (no reply at all) might indicate to the sender that either his/her mail had offended you or you didn't consider his/her mail important enough to deserve a timely response.

Z- Zoning Out

Don't reply if you're zoning out, dozing off, or feeling too tired and exhausted.

NOTE: The list above is not conclusive.


Share:

Fear of God and the Holy Spirit


Faithful Joseph in Prison. Wikimedia

The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (Isa.11:2-3). The mark of a Spirit-filled person is that he/she will be only find delight in the fear of the Lord (Isa.11:3). When the fear of God is not a terror but a joy, then that fear is from the Spirit of God. The fear of God is not a sign of weakness but of power in the Spirit; for, a man who fears God and not man, relies in God and not in self or situation. Thus, fear of God makes room for the power of faith (1Cor.2:3,4).

However, He is not the spirit of timidity (2Tim.1:7), but the Spirit of courage, boldness, and power (Acts 4:31).

Also, He is not the spirit of bondage that leads to fear, but the Spirit of adoption that helps us draw near to the Father as sons and not as slaves (Rom.8:15,16).
Share:

Is Polygamy Allowed in the New Testament Era? Practical Issues

Elkanah and His Two Wives. Wikimedia
It is indisputable that polygamy was allowed by the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament (Deut.21:15). However, the New Testament extols monogamy as a virtue (1Tim.3:2,12; 5:9). In the New Testament, remarriage is only allowed in the case of the death of the spouse (1Tim.5:14).

However, polygamy certainly was not the original marital institution. In the Old Testament, it was allowed because of the hardness of human hearts due to sin. The Law was given for the lawless (1Tim.1:9; Matt.19:5,6,8). One must note that even in the Old Testament unrestricted polygamy was not allowed (Deut.17:17).
...the commandments of Grace are tougher and more demanding than the commandments of the Law. The Bible tells us that the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came with Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Jesus ushered in the era of Grace. Not that grace was absent in the Old Testament; but that grace could only be available even in the Old Testament because of the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth. And, when Christ came Grace came in reality, for until then everything was only shadows (Col.2:17). Therefore, it says, "Grace and truth came with Jesus Christ".

The commandments of Grace, therefore, supersede the commandments of the Law. Grace teaches us true righteousness (Tit.2:11,12; Matt.5:20).

Thus, certain things that were allowed in the Old Testament (like divorce, swearing, polygamy, and tit-for-tat ethics) are not allowed anymore in the New Testament (Matt.5:31,34, 38,39). Most of these things were allowed because of the hardness of human hearts, but God never originally intended them so (Matt.19:8). However, in the Age of Grace when His Grace transforms our hearts, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves and to pray for our enemies, we are called not to resist evil people but turn our left cheek to someone who slaps on our right (i.e. severely insults and humiliates us). The demands of Grace are higher than the demands of the Law. [Grace Above Law]

In the earlier days of Christian work in Africa, the missionaries came face to face with the problem of polygamy. The question of what a person who has turned to Christ do with his multiple wives became an issue. To abandon them might mean doing injustice to them (since, they had come into the relationship before) and unwanted subjection of women and children to suffering. However, in most cases, the churches decided that those who had many wives should not be permitted to be baptized until they have sent away all the other wives except one (usually the first wife). It was also decided that a polygamist who becomes a believer may be admitted for lay leadership but not for ordination. This, however, had been met by severe criticisms with leaders objecting that "the usual practice of enforcing the separation of wives from their husbands, upon their conversion to Christianity, is quite unwarrantable, and opposed to the plain teaching of our Lord." (See Muthengi, p.71). Another view that the previous polygamist must keep only the first legal wife and take care of the other wives as sisters (having no sexual relationship with them) is also not without criticism.

A few more facts must be noted about the relationship between the Old Order of Law and the New Order of Grace:

1. The validity of the Old Law was not annulled by the New (Matt.5:17)
2. However, what was put to death in the New, with regard to the Old, was not supposed to be resurrected again (Rom.7:4; Luke 5:36,37; Col.2:20,21)
3. The old only gradually vanishes and fades away in the presence of the New (Heb.8:13). For instance, Paul didn't altogether give up the observance of the Old Testament Law and visiting the Temple, although he preached the New Testament. Similarly, Jesus also asked the lepers to show themselves to the priests after He healed them.
4. One must remember that Grace is not Lawless, but is the Original Law that teaches the perfect righteousness of God (Tit.2:11,12).

And so, with regard to pre-baptism polygamists we can say that the New Testament does not say that their marriages within the Old system was not legal (but, with regard to the hardness of hearts); however, it declares them to be no longer binding within the New Covenant, in the same way that it was no longer binding for the Apostles to visit the Temple every year anymore. However, one must no longer approach this issue after the manner of the rigidity of Law (in a legalistic pattern; for the New Testament is not merely about law) but after the spirit of Grace. Thus, to even put away the wives without proper "restitution" would be more evil. Also, since marriage is seen as a covenant, the comparison with cases of how the New Testament deals with some Old Testament issues like Temple law or even Slavery Laws may only be a little proximate, but not exactly mirroring. Further, we do note that slavery was not immediately abolished under the New Testament. Both the Temple Laws, for the Jewish Christians, and the Slavery Laws were still applicable except that the New Testament introduced the element of grace and the Christian was no longer legally required to visit the Temple, and while slavery was allowed, the masters were instructed to not be violent against the slaves, but even as the slaves were to serve the masters as slaves to Christ, the masters were to treat their slaves remembering that they had a Master in heaven (Eph.6:5-9). Christ came in the middle as Lord of both. But, the issue becomes a little complicated with regard to the issue of pre-baptism polygamy, and we cannot specify a general rigid rule for every situation. While the principles of justice are universal, the manner in which justice is to be meted out in a particular situation is only determined after a proper assessment of that situation. That is where one needs divine wisdom.

In any case, however, the New Testament gives no rationale for allowing polygamous sexual relationships. For, if the "hardness of heart" has already been dealt with already, then "loving wife as Christ loved His Church" is the spirit reflected even in the Song of Songs (the Old Testament book written by the most polygamist king ever), leaving no excuse.

External Resources
Julius K. Muthengi, "Polygamy and the Church in Africa"
Josphat Yego, "Polygamy and the African Church"
Share:

Theologies of History

Theologies of history have, at least, two functions:
1. They provide a thematic layout of general history.
2. They provide an interpretive framework for specific events in history.

We term them “theologies” because there are a number of various theological approaches to history. Examples are Augustine’s Two City Theology and Dispensationalism.

Some Terminological Clarifications
Vs. Historical Theology
Theology of history is, of course, certainly not historical theology; that may not need to be mentioned, except for clarification of terminologies. Historical theology is the name of a discipline that studies the historical development of theology. On the contrary, theology of history theologically approaches history with theories and interpretations. For example, historical theology studies issues like how the doctrine of Trinity developed in history. Theology of history, on the other hand, addresses issues like what the Bible says about why postmodernism came to be or whether wars are going to cease.

Vs. Philosophy of History
A further distinction needs to be made between theology of history and philosophy of history. While a theology of history approaches history from the vantage point of the Bible; however, philosophy of history (e.g. the dialectical theory of Hegel or Marxist philosophy of history) approaches history from the perspective of a philosophical tradition. A philosophical bias towards history, for instance in the secular humanist approach to history, will usually demythologize ancient historical accounts recorded from a theological perspective.

Vs. Non-Biblical Theology
There are also non-biblical theologies of history like, for instance, the Cyclical Theory of History and the Theory of the Four Yugas. The beginning points of these theologies are in non-biblical sources. They fall under “theology” since the sources are claimed to have a sacred origin.

Vs. Prophecy
While prophecy relates to the future, theology of history encompasses the entire time-spectrum and also provides the framework for the interpretation of prophecy (but not without the hermeneutical circle—the reading of prophecy does also influence the development of a theology of history, provided the view and approach towards biblical interpretation – e.g. literal or allegorical).

Relationship with Cosmology, Soteriology, and Eschatology
Theology of history certainly involves discussions of cosmology, soteriology, and eschatology; however, these are viewed as parts of its own grand story. These narratives are parts of the metanarrative, which is meta not only in the sense of being the bigger story, but also in the sense of providing the theological vantage point from which these events derive theological significance.

Important Characteristics of Theologies of History
A few important characteristics of theologies of history may be pointed out as follows:
1. They are normative, not descriptive. Theologies of history prescribe the blueprint for an understanding of history.
2. They are interpretive. Theologies of history attempt to theologically interpret general and specific events in history in light of the theological metanarrative.

Few Theologies of History
1. Augustine’s The City of God. Rome was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths who inflicted on it barbaric destruction. In the aftermath, critics assailed Christianity for being the reason of Rome’s fall. One challenge of history that Christianity faced was, “How could Rome as strong as it was crumble down after turning to Christianity?” Augustine wrote The City of God in response to this question. His theology of history was actually an apologetic that provided a theological framework for an understanding of the Sack of Rome in light of God’s metanarrative of history. To Augustine, there are ultimately only two cities: the City of the World and the City of God. The book is, in essence, a commentary on history from the vantage point of this view of the two cities and the conflict between them.

2. Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism was systematized by John Darby (1800-82) and was popularized by C.I.Scofield through his Scofield Reference Bible. Dispensationalism divides the history of the world into various ages which provides also a hermeneutic normative for interpretation of Biblical history and God’s dealings with the nations. Some dispensationalists consider the ages to only be three (Law, Grace, and Kingdom), while others opt for four, seven, or more (e.g. Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Law, Grace…). Further, there are also differences with regard to the division a particular age; for instance, whether the tribulation would follow or precede the rapture. Dispensationalists theology of history also tries to identify the present status of Israel and the nations in the plan of God.

3. Dominionism. Dominion theology or dominionism has variants in movements such as Christian Reconstructionism and the Kingdom Now theology and looks to the triumph of Christ on the Cross over principalities and powers as the ground for Christian dominionism. While there are disagreements between various theological perspectives in this camp, there is a general agreement on postmillennialism (that the reign of Christ began with Christ’s triumph on the Cross). The view, thus, prescribes Christians to become actively involved in politics, arts, education, and economics, in order to transform history.

Any reading of the Scriptures will need a theology of history to relate the events to each other. A theology of history becomes necessary not only for an understanding of God’s dealings with humans at different times, but also in order to understand, for instance, why a particular divine commandment is not binding at other times. Thus, theology of history also sheds light on biblical politics and ethics. More significantly, it helps us in the understanding of contemporary history and its trends and in being able to predict where all this is leading towards.

Further Reading
The 6th and 5th Century BC in the Theology of History
Globalization and Gospelization
The Upper and Lower Story Problem in Theologically Secularizing Politics
Religious Fundamentalism - A Philosophical Perspective
Share:

Some Keys to Hegel's Phenomenology of the Mind

Based on Hegel's Preface to his Phenomenology of the Mind

Key Definers
1. Nothing is False or True. Reality is Negativity. The dialectical view anticipates this principle. Reality is grasped in the (dialectical) process.
The more the ordinary mind takes the opposition between true and false to be fixed, the more is it accustomed to expect either agreement or contradiction with a given philosophical system, and only to see reason for the one or the other in any explanatory statement concerning such a system. It does not conceive the diversity of philosophical systems as the progressive evolution of truth; rather, it sees only contradiction in that variety. The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another. But the ceaseless activity of their own inherent nature makes them at the same time moments of an organic unity, where they not merely do not contradict one another, but where one is as necessary as the other; and this equal necessity of all moments constitutes alone and thereby the life of the whole.... But contradiction as between philosophical systems is not wont to be conceived in this way; on the other hand, the mind perceiving the contradiction does not commonly know how to relieve it or keep it free from its onesidedness, and to recognize in what seems conflicting and inherently antagonistic the presence of mutually necessary moments (Preface to Phenomenology of the Mind)

Truth and falsehood as commonly understood belong to those sharply defined ideas which claim a completely fixed nature of their own, one standing in solid isolation on this side, the other on that, without any community between them. Against that view it must be pointed out, that truth is not like stamped coin that is issued ready from the mint and so can be taken up and used. Nor, again, is there something false, any more than there is something evil.

2. Hegel, thus, cannot denounce any system and one will expect his view to integrate all, denounce all, affirm all, reinterprete all. Thus, it is logically absurd to try to find argument for any view in Hegel.

3. Hegel's view is self-defeating; since, by his own principle of approach, an approach opposed to his view can also be valid.

4. Hegel's view is to raise philosophy to the level of scientific system. The system, thus, becomes inductive rather than deductive. But, science is still an infant....

5. Reality is the process of its own becoming, the process of mediation. Mediating is self-identity. Reality is pure negativity, the process of bare and simple becoming. Mediation is reflection.

6. The ego, or becoming in general, this process of mediating, is immediacy itself. Moves towards reflection.

7. Reflection is the positive moment of the Absolute. In reflection. the contrast between the conclusion and the process of arriving at it is dissolved.

8. Nature and reason aren't different. Reason/nature is purposive activity. In nature, purpose is immediate, is its existence for itself, or pure negativity -- reality.

9. Spirit alone is Reality
It is the inner being of the world, that which essentially is, and is per se; it assumes objective, determinate form, and enters into relations with itself−it is externality (otherness), and exists for self; yet, in this determination, and in its otherness, it is still one with itself−it is self−contained and self−complete, in itself and for itself at once. This self-containedness, however, is first something known by us, it is implicit in its nature (an sich); it is Substance spiritual. It has to become self−contained for itself, on its own account; it must be knowledge of spirit, and must be consciousness of itself as spirit. This means, it must be presented to itself as an object, but at the same time straightway annul and transcend this objective form; it must be its own object in which it finds itself reflected. So far as its spiritual content is produced by its own activity, it is only we [the thinkers] who know spirit to be for itself, to be objective to itself; but in so far as spirit knows itself to be for itself, then this self−production, the pure notion, is the sphere and element in which its objectification takes effect, and where it gets its existential form. In this way it is in its existence aware of itself as an object in which its own self is reflected. Mind, which, when thus developed, knows itself to be mind, is science. Science is its realization, and the kingdom it sets up for itself in its own native element.

10. A self having knowledge purely of itself in the absolute antithesis of itself, this pure ether as such, is the very
soil where science flourishes, is knowledge in universal form.

11. The ascent into this is the Phenomenology of the Spirit. The Phenomenology of the Spirit is negative or contains what is false.
Share:

Faith Versus Religious Conversion

The only time Jesus used the word "proselyte", it had a negative connotation. He boldly pointed out that the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites as they were, traveled land and sea to win one convert, and when they had done that, they made him twice as much a son of hell as themselves (Matt.23:15). It was a pointer towards the fact that religious conversion doesn't change a person; perhaps, it may worsen his condition.

The New Testament speaks of discipleship, but never speaks of religious conversion. In fact, there were secret disciples as well, who were never condemned for being secret disciples; and, when the open disciples like Peter and James went into hiding during the crucifixion of the Lord, it was these secret disciples like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who came forward to fulfill the prophetic word (Jn.19:38,39).

The New Testament speaks of faith and obedience to faith (Rom.1:5) and of the Gospel of Salvation (Rom.1:16). Real conversion is not about change of religion (whatever it is); real conversion is about transforming faith.

The New Testament does not speak about going to the ends of the earth and converting people. It speaks about bearing witness (Acts 1:8) and making disciples, teaching them to observe the commandments of Christ (Matt.28:19,20). And, the commandments of Jesus were not about changing names, renouncing language or culture, or embracing some tradition of Christianity (as interpreted by them). The commandments are clearly given in the Gospels; nothing more. In fact, it is not even necessary to consider a Christian tradition (say denomination or anti-denomination, whatever) when deciding to have faith in Christ. The Lord is more interested in faith that is child-like than in faith that is burdened with human complications. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus used the word "converted", but the Greek word there is not proselutus, but strepho which means "to turn around". He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:3 NKJ). When He spoke about this child-like faith, He didn't talk about receiving Christianity (whatever it is) but about receiving the Kingdom (Mark 10:15). There is a simplicity and freshness associated with this that no historical tradition can contend against.

There are cases of those who have stronger faith in Christ than the ones who think they are closer to Him; and, Jesus said that it is the former that will sit with Abraham in the Kingdom (Matt.8:10,11,12,25,26; 15:28).
Share:

Fear and Love: Filial Vs Servile Fear

"Your fear rules over my thoughts night and day,
And my love is incomplete till fear leads the way..."

Love involves the element of fear. But, it is not the fear of being hurt; it is the fear of offending the one we love.

When the Bible commands us to fear God, it does have the two aspects of fear in mind:
1. Fear that is attached to the love of God (Deut.10:12; cf. 2Cor.7:11,15). This is what is usually referred to as filial fear. It is also reverential.
2. Fear that is attached to the justice of God, especially with regard to punishment (Deut 4:23,24; Heb.12:28,29). This may be referred to as servile fear

The Bible never encourages servile fear, which involves servitude in order to avoid displeasure of God. (Rom.8:15; 2Tim.1:7; 1Jn.4:18).

A man who loves God has filial and reverential fear for God and keeps away from evil because evil offends God (Prov.8:13).
A man who only keeps away from evil to avoid punishment will resort to evil when he begins to believe that the danger isn't there (Rom.6:1,2; 2:4; Exo.8:15).

1 John 4:18 tells us that "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."

This refers to servile fear. It involves torment. It does not edify because it doesn't transform a person inside out. It doesn't perfect love. However, servile fear at least works as a negative deterrent.

Filial love, however, is a positive deterrent of evil.

We must remember that servile fear anywhere (whether at home, at office, or at school) is not going to build healthy relationships. It is tyrannical. But, where love is not lighthearted but is given depth by the seriousness of filial fear (and filial fear does have intense depth, for it affects the depths of one's consciousness of self in juxtaposition with the other), then, love becomes self-giving.

A husband who loves his wife and doesn't say things or do things that may offend and hurt her has filial fear. A child who obeys his parents, even when they are not around or may not find out what he has been doing, honors his parents through filial fear, because he knows that even if they didn't find out what he had been doing, the prohibited thing is hurtful to his parents, and because he loves them, he cannot bear to do the hurtful thing. From both these examples, we realize that true love involves fear and reverence.

Filial fear is not fear of being hurt by God. God cannot hurt us, for God is Love (1Jn.4:8). It is we who hurt ourselves when we try to fight against the ground of our being, and this grieves God (Eze.33:11).

Servile fear is not fear of grieving God; it is the fear of displeasing God and being hurt by His displeasure. It is servile, tyrannical, and legalistic. It involves bondage (Rom.8:15). It does not belong to perfect love; for perfect love casts away all fears.

Filial fear is clean and pure (Psa.19:9). It purifies the soul (Pro.16:6)

Share:

Encounter With Chance

Excerpt from Stranger (2014), pp.63-64

“You seem to be in grave consternation!”

I turned to my right and saw a lean middle-aged man sitting on a chair closeby, smiling at me. He wore a simple and neat white shirt tucked into his brown trousers and had a certain curly waves of hair on his head that evidently couldn’t be groomed. His face looked casual and carefree. He wore a gold ring on his left finger, and a brown thread on his right.

“I saw you arrive with Clever. He has a particular dislike for me, you know… Well, these businessmen, they look at me as some kind of an omen. But, I do surprise them with my unwits sometimes.”

“Who are you, Sir?” I asked.

“Shouldn’t I have asked you the same? But, it doesn’t matter what or who you are to me or to anyone, isn’t it so? Of course or perhaps or may be not; whatever…” he drew his chair close to me and spoke in whispers with a crystal spark in his eyes, “The truth is that truth is a catchword; reality is a myth; existence is a game of accommodative meanings that we create in order to be who we are and find our own identity. That’s where frustration strikes hard. Instead, why don’t just let go, then you’ll see magic in every shade of hue, in every breeze of the wind, in every blade of grass, and every twist of the atom. Let things be what they are and let things be known as they let themselves appear. Suffering results from overstraining of the brain to accommodate the world to an attribute that doesn’t belong to it, namely meaning…. Isn’t that strange?”

“I don’t get what you say,” I replied feeling even more strained by what he said.

“You don’t get it because you strain to link things together into a meaningful story. You don’t realize that a story is only beautiful because it happens, because it is let to happen so.”

“What has happened to me is not so meaningful after all!”

“But, isn’t it beautiful?”

“How can something be beautiful without being meaningful?”

“If you just experience it without any demand whatsoever.”

“That’s passive subjection, enslavement.”

“What is not?”

“What?”

“The butterfly dances to the rhythm of the wind flapping wings with colors from the rainbow, the peacock prances with the air of a king spreading feathers in a fanlike show; the mortals covet their beauty and sigh and moan casting their faces low, not realizing that it’s their covetous ambition that turns them into the world below. But, just let it go, let it go. Let be what the rhythm of this dice-play calls for. Be the dance, be the prance, then you’ll be beauty without straining to see the beautiful.”

“Are you a dance teacher?”

“Yes, perhaps… but, perhaps, more a dance maker?”

“Who are you?”

“I am Chance…”
Share:

Ravi Zacharias

From "20th Century Christian Contribution to Philosophy" (ACTS, 2004; Basileia, 2008)

As one of the foremost Christian apologists of this century, Ravi Zacharias’ specialization in Western, Eastern, and Middle-Eastern philosophy takes him to numerous academic circles all over the world. Through his rich literature, broadcast, and record ministry, he has addressed millions of people all over the world. Most of his books and lectures address the present condition of the Western man which he diagnoses as caused by the invasion of rationalistic atheism and secularism in the once Christian societies.

Ravi has shown that the invasion of secularism, existentialism, and Eastern philosophy has led to the relativizing of truth in present day society. His apologetic is against the agnostic and skeptic stance one takes with respect to truth. He says, ‘truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of true?’

With regard to metaphysical issues, Ravi echoes the Socratic dictum ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’ in the words: ‘Everyone: pantheist, atheist, skeptic, polytheist has to answer these questions: Where did I come from? What is life's meaning? How do I define right from wrong and what happens to me when I die? Those are the fulcrum points of our existence.’ Thus, Ravi drives metaphysics to its practical and existential relevance. This is one genius of Ravi that he brings down philosophy to the floor of human life. Philosophy begins to become vivacious in his words; it no longer remains an abstract pastime of the melancholic. Ravi asks whether the non-Christian positions can adequately and consistently explicate the problem of human existence. He concludes that none of them are consistent in their assumptions. It is the Christian world-view alone that provides the most consistent doctrine of creation and destiny that explains the cosmological and teleological dimensions of human reality.

Though Ravi speaks on themes connected with logic and metaphysics, he also has a special thrust upon values in the present age. An expert on existentialism, Ravi divides philosophy into three levels. The first level is theoretical which seems less appealing to the general public due to the theoretical complexity involved. However, this is the foundational level of all philosophy because it is here that experts wrestle. The second level is the arts, where philosophy finds expression. Novels, paintings, music, and movies are the best place where the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) expresses the affect of the philosophical wind that is driving it. For example, Albert Camus’ The Plague (1948) and Sartre’s Nausea (1949) were expressions of the existential despair produced by feelings of forlornness and helplessness owing to the onslaught of atheism and liberalism. The second level doesn’t go into the foundational questions but approaches the philosophical problem only existentially. The third level of philosophy which is of great significance, according to Ravi, is found in the daily life of the layman, which consists of kitchen-table talks and common discourse. For instance, a mother tells her son not to do a certain thing; he asks why he should not do it, and she replies because it is wrong. There is no philosophical argument given in support of her commandment. Something is just assumed to be right or wrong by faith. The third level is just prescriptive and has no reference to the logic of the theoretical. It is very important for Ravi, however, that in certain matters of belief the foundational level must be raised by helping the believer to question his own foundations. The modern generation is a prey of philosophies and ideologies which it never questions, but simply believes and follows the implications. The result is the loss of values since values can have no absolute foundation for existence in the absence of an absolute God. Ravi also notes the post-modern feeling of disgust against the absoluteness of Truth. Post-modernism, he explains, is a mood against truth and rationality. The modern age can’t tolerate anyone professing possession of truth. However, the relativizing of truth can only mean the loss of truth, where one abandons truth to believe whatever he chooses without regard to whether it is true or false; since truth does not exist.

In an age where the visual dominates the rational and people are losing the ability of abstract reasoning, feelings are beginning to rule humans leading to apathy towards absolute values. With unstable feelings as guide, callousness and apathy are the result. Ravi sees the rise of crime to be directly related to the spread of atheism and ungodliness in the world. To Ravi, then, a return to the Biblical concept of God and salvation is necessary in order to restore meaning and purpose to human existence. In a world without definite and absolute categories, philosophy must find an anchor in the eternal Word of God revealed to man.
Share:

परमेश्‍वर शास्‍त्र

I. परमेश्‍वर का अस्तित्‍व
सृष्टि-मूलक तर्क: यदि जगत है, तो जगत एक सृष्टि है। यदि वह सृष्टि नही तो अनंतता के लक्षण होते, जो नही है। अर्थात जगत की सृष्टि एक अनंत परमेश्‍वर ने ही किया।

II. परमेश्‍वर का स्‍वभाव
परमेश्‍वर अपने अस्तित्‍व, बुद्धि, सामर्थ, पवित्रता, न्‍याय, भलाई, एवं सत्‍य में आत्‍मा है, अपरिमित है, अनंत है, अपरिवर्तनीय है

III. परमेश्‍वर के गुण
a. परमेश्‍वर के आंतरिक गुण (Unrelated Attributes)
(i) आत्‍मा (John 4:24)
(ii) अपरिमित – विराट (1 Kgs. 8:27), अनंत (Exo. 15:18; Deu. 33:27)
(iii) अद्वैत (Exo. 20:3; Deu. 4:35,39. 1 Sam. 2:2; 1 Ti. 1:17)

b. परमेश्‍वर के सांबंधिक गुण – संसार के संबंध में
(i) सर्वसामर्थी (Gen. 1:1; Gen. 17:1; Job. 40:2; Amo. 4:13; Mat. 19:26)
(ii) सर्वोपस्थित (Gen. 28:15-16; Psa. 139:7-10)
(iii) सर्वज्ञानी (Gen. 18:18-19); 2 Kgs. 8:10-13; Jer. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:27-29. 1 Pet. 1:2)
(iv) बुद्धिमान (Psa. 104:24; Pro. 3:19; Jer. 10:12; Dan. 2:20-21; Col. 2:2-3)
(v) सार्वभौम (Dan. 4:35; Mat. 20:15; Rom. 9:21)

c. नैतिक प्राणियों के संबंद्ध में
(i) पवित्र (Exo. 15:11; Lev. 11:44-45; Rev. 4:8)
(ii) धर्मि (Ezr. 9:15; Psa. 116:5; Rev. 16:15)
(iii) विश्‍वासयोग्‍य (Exo. 34:6; Mic. 7:20. 2 Tim. 2:13; Rev. 15:3)
(iv) कृपालु (Tit. 3:5; Psa. 32:5)
(v) प्रेम (Deu. 7:8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10)
(vi) भला(Psa. 25:8; Psa. 85:5; Act. 14:17)
Share:

बाइबिलशास्त्र

1. प्रकाशन
प्रकाशन का अर्थ है पर्दा हटाना, सत्य को प्रगट करना, एवं रहस्योद्धाटन।
सामान्य प्रकाशनः Psa. 19:1-3; Act. 14:15-17; Rom. 1:18-20.
विशेष प्रकाशनः परमेश्वर की उद्धार योजना से संबंधित। यह व्यक्तिगत एवं वाचिक दोनों ही हैं।

बाइबिलः लिखित वचन। सम्पूर्ण ऐतिहासिक जानकारी ;वंशावली, वाचाएं, व्यवस्था, घटनाएं), साहित्य (गद्य एवं काव्य), भविष्यद्वाणी, व्याख्या (उदाहरणः पत्रियाएं), जो परमेश्वर का उद्धार संबंधित योजना की समझ हेतु हमारे लिए आवश्यक है।

स्वप्न, दर्शन, भविष्यकथनों को लिखित वचन से तालमेल बनाए रखना चाहिए (Gal. 1:8-9).

प्रभु यीशु मसीहः परमेश्वर के प्रकाशन की परिपूर्णता (Heb. 1:2-3)

प्रबोधन या प्रदीप्तिः मनुष्य के आत्मा में पवित्रात्मा के द्वारा रेमा (rhema) का प्रकाशन, जिसके द्वारा मनुष्य सत्य की समझ प्राप्त कर पवित्रात्मा के विश्वास के वरदान के द्वारा उसका प्रतियुत्तर देता है। यह प्रकाशन का आत्मगत पहलु है। यह प्रबोधन सम्पूर्ण लिखित वचन एवं मसीह में प्रकाशन की परिपूर्णता से तालमेल रखता है (Joh. 14:26; Joh. 16:15). अनिवार्य (1Co. 2:11).

2. लेखन का उद्देश्य (Woodrow Kroll)
अ. परिशुद्धता हेतुः बाइबिल मे परमेश्वर के प्रकाशन बयानों का दर्ज परिशुद्ध रूप मे किया गया है।
आ. प्रसारन हेतुः लिखित वचन संदेश को फैलाता है।
इ. परिरक्षण हेतुः शब्दों को लिखित रूप में परिरक्षित किया गया है।

3. बाइबिल की विश्वसनीयता
अ. ऐतिहासिक सत्यता
आ. भविष्यकथनों की सटीकता
इ. अभिलेखों की प्रामाणिकता
ई. व्यावहारिक - यह प्रयोजनकार हैं
उ. वैज्ञानिक परिशुद्धता
ऊ. दार्शनिक सुसंगतता

4. प्रेरणा
प्रेरणा के विषय अलग-अलग सिद्धांत
1. यांत्रिक या श्रुतलेखनः परमेश्वर के प्रकाशन के प्रसारण में लेखक मात्र एक निष्क्रिय यंत्र है। मानवीय तृटियों से सुरक्षित रखने के लिये उसके व्यक्तित्व को बर्खास्त कर दिया जाता है।
2. आंशिक प्रेरणाः केवल वे ही सिद्धांत प्रेरणाधारित है जिनसे मानव लेखक अनभिज्ञ थे। परमेश्वर ने विचारों को प्रगट किया जिनहें लेखकों ने अपने अपने शब्दों में लिखा।
3. प्रेरणा की श्रेणियां:  कुछ बाइबिल के भाग अन्य भागों से अधिक और अलग रूप में प्रेरित हैं।
4. अंतज्र्ञान या स्वाभाविक प्रेरणाः असाधारण अन्तदृष्टि रखने वाले प्रतिभाशाली व्यक्तित्वों को परमेश्वर ने बाइबिल लिखने के लिए चुना। प्रेरणा कोई कलात्मक क्षमता या प्राकृतिक वरदान के समान ही है।
5. प्रदीप्ति या रहस्यात्मक प्रेरणाः लेखक परमेश्वर द्वारा शास्त्रों को लिखने के लिए सक्षम बनाए गए थे। पवित्रात्मा ने उनके सामान्य शक्तियों को बढ़ा दिया।
6. शाब्दिक एवं पूर्ण प्रेरणाः शास्त्रों के निर्माण में ईश्वरीय एवं मानव तत्व दोनों उपस्थित थे। सम्पूर्ण पवित्रशास्त्र, हर वचन सहित, परमेश्वर के मन का उत्पादन है जो मानव शब्द एवं समझ अनुरूप अभिव्यक्त किया गया है।

2Ti. 3:16 (Theopneustos): परमेश्वर के सांस से दिया गया
प्रेरणा न ता यांत्रिक है न तो श्रुतलिखित परन्तु वह जैव है, अर्थात इसमें लेखकों का व्यक्तित्व उपस्थित था। वे आत्मा के चलाए गए थे (Phero) (2Pe. 1:21)

प्रेरणा शाब्दिक है; वह शब्दों तक वितृत है, केवल विचारों तक सीमित नही।
प्रेरणा सम्पूर्ण है; अर्थात, परिपूर्ण हर एक पवित्रशास्त्र...समान रूप मे।

भ्रमातीतत्वः यह सत्यापन एवं अन्यथाकरण के लिये खुला है और प्रकाशित सत्य के संचार में पूर्णतः परिपूर्ण हैं।

निभ्र्रान्तताः इसमें कोई भी भ्रान्तियां नहीं हैं। संपूर्ण निभ्र्रान्तताः बाइबिल अपने शिक्षाओं एवं बयानों में पूर्णतः सत्य है।

अन्य विचारधाराएं
सीमित निभ्र्रान्तताः यह केवल उद्धार संबंधित वाक्यों में निभ्र्रान्त है।
सोद्देश्यरूपी निभ्र्रान्तताः परमेश्वर के साथ मनुष्यों का मेल कराने का उद्देश्य में वह अचूक हैं।
अप्रासंगिकः यह सिद्धांत अप्रासंगिक है। बाइबिल के उद्देश्य को ध्यान में रखने की आवश्यक्ता है।

7. बाइबिल शाश्वत एवं परिपूर्ण है।

8. कैननः शाब्दिक अर्थः नापने वाली छडी, मापदण्ड। कैननीयता, कैननीय, कैननीकरन
यह शब्द इब्रानी एवं युनानी भाषा से आयी है और इसका अर्थ है सरकण्डा या बेंत, अर्थात ऐसे कोई वस्तु जो सीधा हो, या सीधा रखे जाने वाली वस्तु। अतः इसका तात्पर्य हो जाता हैः मापदण्ड, या वह जिसे मापा या नापा गया हो। इसे शास्त्रों के लिए उपयोग में इसलिए लाया गया क्योंकि यह जताया जाएं कि इन्हीं में विश्वास और व्यवहार एवं सिद्धांत और कर्तव्य के निमित्त अधिकृत मापदण्ड है।
पाँच मापदण्डः
1. ग्रान्थकारिता - क्या यह भविष्यद्वक्ता, प्रेरित, अथवा पवित्र जन के द्वारा लिखा गया हैं?
2. स्थानीय कलीसिया द्वारा स्वीकृति
3. कलीसिया के प्रवर्तकों द्वारा पहचान
4. विषय वस्तु सैद्धांतिक रूप में सही हो
5. व्यक्तिगत आत्मिक उन्न्ाति के लिये लाभदायक हो।

पुराना नियम का कैनन या पुस्तक संग्राह मसीह एवं प्रेरितों द्वारा स्वीकृत रूप में स्वीकार किया गया है।
नया नियम का कैनन या पुस्तक संग्राह प्रेरिताई ग्रान्थकारिता एवं कलीसिया के प्रवर्तकों के द्वारा उनकी स्वीकृति के आधार पर स्वीकार किया गया है।
कारथैज़ के तृतीय परिषद (397 ईस्वी) में 27 नये नियम के पुस्तकों को कैननीय घोषित किया गया। संत अथनैशियस (297-373 ईस्वी) ने अपने 39 वे पास्कल पत्र (367 ईस्वी) में नये नियम के पुस्तकों को जिस रूप में आज हम उन्हें जानतें हैं उस रूप में सूचीबद्ध किया।

9. बाइबिल में उसके विषय में प्रयोग किये गए प्रतीक
1. तलवार (Heb. 4:12)  2. हथौड़ा (Jer. 23:29)  3. बीज (1Pe. 1:23) 4. दर्पण (Jam. 1:23-25)  5. आग (Jer. 23:29, Jer. 20:9) 6. दीपक (Psa. 119:105)  7. भोजन (1Pe. 2:2) 8. जल (Eph. 5:25-27)  9. दूध (1Pe. 2:2)  10. मांस (Heb. 5:12) 11. रोटी (Mat. 4:4) 12. चांदी (Psa. 12:6)

10. अन्य नाम
यहोवा की पुस्तक (Isa. 34:16); सत्य की पुस्तक (Dan. 10:21); शास्त्र (Joh. 10:35, Mat. 21:42); पवित्रशास्त्र (Rom. 1:2); पवित्र पुस्तकें (Dan. 9:2; Heb. 10:7); परमेश्वर के वचन (Rom. 3:2), परमेश्वर का वचन (Heb. 4:12); परमेश्वर के जीवित वचन (Act. 7:38)

11. बाइबिल का प्रभावः हमारे विचार, जीवन, मूल्य, एवं नियति पर।

12. बाइबिल का अधिकारः मानव बुद्धि पर, कलीसिया पर, हमारे अनुभव पर, एवं हर मसीही पर।
Share:

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *