The Young Messiah (2016) Movie Review



The Young Messiah is a 2016 movie ​directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh and  based on Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice. 

The movie tries to imagine several events in the seventh year of Jesus. It begins with an episode where Jesus raises a young Jewish boy from the dead after a religious crowd surrounds His house accusing Jesus of witchcraft. The family is forced to leave Egypt, and Joseph is willing to leave because he knows through a dream that Herod is dead. Meanwhile, the new Herod comes to know of this miracle in Egypt and commissions a centurion to find and kill the seven year old Young Messiah. The devil is shown throughout the movie trying to incite people against Jesus.

The movie aims to show the development of the Messianic consciousness in Jesus at this age. Perhaps, age 7 is chosen with some symbolic significance, bearing on the theology of numbers. James, Jesus's cousin, begins to break the untold tales of the Magi and events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Jesus is shown as heading towards the temple in search for answers regarding who He was and why He had such power to heal and raise the dead.

The storyline raises several questions. Of course, the plot attempts to cram in a lot of theological supposition and historical data into a one year span. And, the storyline betrays a lot of apocryphal influence. The objective seems to grant a glimpse into speculations about the early silent years of the Christ.

Interestingly, the storyline depicts a Roman centurion as subservient to Herod who commissions him to finish the job assigned to him by his father, Herod the great, of slaying Jesus. The movie suggests that Roman centurions worked for Herod.

With regard to the divine consciousness of Jesus as the Incarnate Son of God, the movie suggests that He grew in His awareness of His Person and Mission. While this is an interesting interpretation that emphasizes the human side of the Messiah in His incarnation, there is no canonical or Biblical evidence to support the idea that Christ worked miracles without being aware of His Messianic identity and Mission.
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Basics of Chinese Characters

by Jess Suen



Following are some approaches to Chinese character formation:

1. Pictorial. It is the simplest and most basic method. The character is based on a pictogram or form. For example,

  • 人 is human, the upper part is made of head and body and the lower part has the two legs.

  • 口is mouth.

  • 羊is sheep. The sheep character is seen with the two horns on its head, then face and feet.

  • 馬is horse.

  • 手is hand.

  • 木is wood. When it is 林, it's woods. 森 means forest. Normally, forest can be written as 森林, i.e. combined with so many woods. Very interesting.


2. Action Based. These are based on some action. For example,

  • 皿 is dish but something in the dish is blood 血.

  • 男is man, which is a combination of 田 and 力, 田is field or farm. 力 is work force; meaning men need to work with energy as Adam.

  • 婪is greedy, which is a combination of 林and 女. 林is forest, 女 is woman. She is greedy as Eve.


3. Combination of Symbols. Some characters are formed from symbols. For example,

  • 一is one. 二is two. 三is three.

  • 上is upper (human in the upper),下is lower (human in the lower).


4. Combination of Characters. Some words are combined of two characters: left and right or upper and lower. For example,

  • 忙 is "busy": on the left hand side is heart and on the right hand side is death. You can explain that being busy will let our heart to death.

  • 忘 means "to forget)" and is related to a heart that has died.

  • 打(手+丁) is a verb. We use the hand 手 to beat something down (low). It can be read as "to beat" or "to fight."


5. Left-hand Characters. Some characters have meaning on left hand side only, but no meaning or no relative meaning on-the right side. The right side is used for pronunciation only. For example,

  • 指(手+旨) is finger/fingers. Normally, we call 手指. I think this is quite difficult to recognize.


There are some characters that are not included in the above points. Some words cannot be explained except by specialists. We also need to memorize it compulsorily.
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Are Multiverses (or Multiple Universes) Possible?



(Multiverses. Screenshot from Google Image Search) 
Theologically, it is not an impossibility, given the notion of the "three worlds" or more as some tend to subdivide each. However, one must choose between whether to look atthe various "realms" as part of the one Universe or look at reality as containing multiple Universes not closed to each other. 

It is apparent from the biblical narrative that the gateway (or stairway as in Jacob's dream) between the three worlds is open for angels, and Satan is said to ascend from the pit and move to and fro. The Genesis narrative tells us that the gateway to Eden is closed to man and he is specifically designated as dust that must return to dust. However, there are exceptional cases of Elijah and Enoch taken away to God. 

The term "above" (that also includes pictorial language of dreams and visions) relates to God and life, while the term "below" relates to death and the grave, also pointing to gravitation towards dust and entropy. 

Obviously, theologically, it is impossible for man to get out of this world to any other except through death, or unless God chooses. Also, man cannot create any device to travel to and fro between the worlds. 

There is only one Man who descended from above, descended below, and has ascended above, and will descend again the second time: Christ.
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Kumarila Bhatta's (660CE) Foundationalism (or Intrinsic Reliability)

The 7th century Indian philosopher and proponent of Purva Mimamsa (realistic view based on the pre-upanisadic Vedas) argued in favor of Vedic fideism in lines similar to what the Reformed Epistemologists, especially the Foundationalists, are arguing. Following is an excerpt from an article on this philosopher in Standford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:
...if it is thought that any cognition finally counts as a reliable doxastic practice only insofar as it can be demonstrated to be such (for example, by appeal to a subsequent cognition of the causes of the initial one), infinite regress ensues; for the subsequent, justifying cognition would, as itself a cognition, similarly require justification, and so on. Or, as Kumārila here suggests, if the initial cognition isn't credited with the intrinsic “capacity” for conferring justification, then no further cognition could be able to bestow that, either—unless, of course, the further cognition is itself credited with immediately having that capacity, in which case, why not simply allow this with respect to the initial cognition? As Kumārila's commentators like to put it, if it is thought that we must await second-order justification before thinking we are justified in crediting first-order cognitions, then “the whole world would be blind.”

Alvin Plantinga's "basic beliefs" Foundationalism may find significant affinities in Kumarila's arguments, though the latter argued in favor of the Vedic ordinances. 

The basic principle seems to show the limit of skepticism, whether evidence is warranted on every belief one holds, or whether it is necessary to start with doubt before coming to believe. The answer, obviously, is no. Humans do not usually start with doubts; they start with faith. And, certainly much of our "knowledge" acceptance is based on this.

However, this does pose problems for contradictory positions and this is where one needs to recognize the importance of proofs and the varieties of verification criteria.
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Understanding the Human Mind and the Spirit

Forthcoming in Revive Magazine

Da Vinci's Sketch of Man

 

Humans are made of body, soul, and spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul prays that the “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless.” The body signifies the physical dimension of man; the soul, the psychological; and, the spirit, the spiritual.

The following are characteristics of the body (physical):

  • It is Spatio-temporal (i.e. it extends and can be located in physical space-time continuum)

  • It is Material (i.e. it is made up of matter)

  • It is Mortal (i.e. it is destructible)

  • It is Natural (i.e. it is subject to the laws of nature)

  • It has Sensory Consciousness (i.e. the physical sensory system detects and processes sensory stimuli)

  • It has Physical and Sensory Development


The following are characteristics of the soul (psychological):

  • It is Intellectual

  • It is Emotional

  • It is Volitional

  • It is Self-Conscious

  • It is Self-Determinating

  • It has Cognitive-Affective-Conative development


The following are characteristics of the spirit (spiritual):

  • It is Moral (is conscious of moral categories) – possesses conscience and the sense of guilt and justification

  • It is Intuitional (can receive extra-sensory information)

  • It is Theological (is capable of faith in God)

  • It is Relational (stands in relation to God, self and others)

  • It has Innate knowledge of God (Rom.1:19-21)

  • It has capacity for Abstract categories such as goodness, justice, temperance, infinity, immutability, divinity, and the like.


It is possible to study the human body with reference to studies of the bodies of other animals, it is even possible to study human psychology with reference to some studies of the behavior of certain animals; however, it is impossible to study the spirit of man without the help of Scriptures.

Differentiating Between Mind and Spirit

In 1Corinthians 14, Paul makes an important distinction between the mind and the spirit when he mentions praying and singing both with the mind and with the spirit. Here, to pray with the spirit means to pray in unknown tongues as the Spirit gives utterance to the human spirit. No one except God can understand the words prayed with the spirit. To pray with the mind means to pray with our understanding in expression of our thoughts, emotions, desires, and resolutions. Obviously, the words uttered in unknown tongues (with the spirit) cannot be deciphered intellectually; they cannot be studied and listed in a dictionary and given a grammar for humans to learn how to intellectually understand them or learn the language; they do not possess the physical and psychological characteristics or patterns of human languages; therefore, they can only be interpreted with the gift of the Spirit. It is important to make a difference between the soul and the spirit.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb.4:12)

Innate Sense of God, Spiritual Death, and Corruption of Soul

The Bible tells us that the knowledge of God is innate in man.

“because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom.1:19-20).

This innate sense of God is what makes people religious and God-seeking in nature and capable of knowing God by the things that are made.

“But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.”  (Job 32:8)

However, when Adam and Eve sinned, humanity died spiritually towards God and the religiosity became increasingly nature or this-worldly centered-- like Adam and Eve’s turning to the fig leaves to cover themselves; this so because the mind became carnal and slave to the flesh because of sin.

“because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Rom.1:21-23)

Newbirth and the Regeneration and Washing of the Spirit

When one turns to Christ, he is born again, i.e. his spirit receives the washing of regeneration by the Word of God and is put in right-standing with God (justified).

“according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit.3:5). “…the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb.12:23).

This washing of regeneration cleanses the conscience of guilt and dead works and makes us the dwelling place of God.

“There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Pet.3:21)

“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb.9:14)

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1Cor.3:16)

Renewing of the Spirit of Our Mind

Ephesians 4:23 asks us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. This commandment is also given in Romans 12:2 where Paul writes that we should not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. While the regenerational renewing of the spirit is an act of God (Tit.3:5; Psa.51:10), renewing of our mind towards spiritual transformation is our obligation.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Cor.3:18)

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2Cor.4:16)

The soulish or natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit (1Cor.2:14) because the human mind cannot understand the mind of God. However, the Spirit of God knows the deep things of God and reveals them to us and those who are spiritually minded receive them by faith and spiritual understanding (1Cor.2:14-17).

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph.1:17-18)

The flesh and the spirit are at war in the battlefield of the mind.

“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (Gal.5:17)

The lusts of the flesh war against the soul - intellect, emotion, will and person (1Pet.2:11), so that the mind will be rebellious against God (Rom.8:7), be darkened in understanding and abound in the works of the flesh. The devil can use lusts to blind human minds (2Cor.4:4; Acts 5:3; Eph.4:26,27). It is, therefore, important to humble oneself before God, submit to Him, be prayerfully watchful, and resist the devil.

“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas.4:5-7)

The mind that is submitted to God (to His Word) and is spiritual (walks in the Spirit) is renewed day by day into the image of Christ (Gal.5:16-18). It is filled with the fruit of the Spirit- “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

Serving with the Mind and the Spirit

The Bible doesn’t call us to suspend the mind or ignore it. Divine wisdom is “open to reason” (Jas 3:17, RSV). God wants our mind to be renewed, not disposed. God wants us to be spiritually minded so that we can worship and pray both with understanding and with the spirit.

“I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1Cor. 14:15)

We are called to:

  • Draw near to God (Jas 4:8)

  • Be cleansed of all impurities of flesh and spirit – of evil works and conscience (2Cor.7:1; Heb.10:22)

  • Submit to God in all humility and self-negation (Matt.16:24; Jas 4:7)

  • Be watchful, give no place to the devil, but resist him (1Pet 5:8; Eph.4:27; Jas 4:7)

  • Pray for spiritual understanding and enlightenment (Eph.1:17,18; Col.1:9)

  • Be filled with, walk in and be led by the Spirit (Rom.8:14; Eph.1:18

  • Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Pet.3:18)

  • Pray in the Spirit and with the spirit (Jude 20; Rom.8:26; 1Cor.14:2)

  • Practice obedience to God’s word and become skillful and mature in the word (Heb.5:12-14)

  • Do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom.12:2).

  • Do not be slave to the traditions and opinions of men (Col.2:20-23; Gal.5:1; Mark 7:6-13; 1Pet.1:18)

  • Worship and serve God alone (1Cor.10:14; Matt.4:10)

  • Walk in love, serve one another, and be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Jn.13:34; 15:12; Gal.5:2, 13, 22-23; Heb.10:24).

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Placebo and the Philosophy of Mind and Matter in Drug Research

A placebo is a non-therapeutic substance administered under the camouflage of medication to deceive patients into believing that they are receiving medications; this done solely for psychological and not for physiological effects. Placebo may usually be used to compare its effects with the effects of other drugs in drug research.

Let's take the case of an experiment that tries to establish whether a particular drug, say to treat weariness, is genuine or merely has the effects of a placebo. Suppose 20 candidates are chosen for this experiment. 10 are given the drug and the rest are put on a placebo while they are told that the placebo is a genuine medication. They need to make sure that the deception is well carried on for the success of the experiment. If both the groups make similar improvements after taking the treatments, the new drug seems to only function as a placebo in effect.

The basic hypothesis of the placebo raises the question of mind over matter. Of course, this pushes the question into the domain of philosophy. If the dualism is strongly affirmed, one implication can also be that sometimes physiologically active drugs may not be effective when hindered by psychological conditions.

But, what is the nature of this "dualism"? Is there a limit of interaction? How far can one push the mind? Is it ethically justifiable to deceive patients to use placebo? How can knowing (even being deceived) affect therapy? What is the nature of faith and its relation to therapy?

Researchers continue to probe these questions.

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The Light of Law Vs Light of Christ (John 8)

JOHN 8:1-12
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

CONTRAST TO 1JOHN 1:5-7
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The light of the Law exposes and condemns; the light of Christ covers and cleanses.
The light of the Law casts one's countenance down; the light of Christ lifts up one's countenance.
The light of the Law brings knowledge of sin; the light of Christ brings knowledge of God's salvation.
The light of the Law makes one weak; the light of Christ makes one strong.
The light of the Law brings guilt; the light of Christ brings justification.
The light of the Law is unclear about many things (is "veiled"; they needed many commentators); the light of Christ is open-faced.
The light of the Law is fading; the light of Christ is ever glorious.
The light of the Law is destructive; the light of Christ is transformative.
The light of the Law brings bondage; the light of Christ brings freedom.
The light of the Law brings weariness and tiredness; the light of Christ refreshes one's soul.
The light of the Law brings death; the light of Christ brings life.
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Is Water Baptism Necessary Before Partaking in Lord's Supper

"Last Supper" by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1750)
Yes, it is. Water baptism identifies one with the redemption work of Jesus Christ, with His death, burial, and resurrection. It is anticipated of visible identification with Christ and His Church. Every person has the personal responsibility to examine him/herself before deciding to partake in the Lord's Table. The Bible makes it clear that those who chose not to be baptized were rejecting the counsel of God (Lk.7:30). In a mixed congregation, it is not possible to always know who is worthy to partake of the Table; however, the minister must encourage only those who have been baptized for remission of sins (not just as a ritual but by faith in Jesus Christ) to partake of the Table.

Before Jesus sat down to dip bread in the cup, He washed His disciples' feet. He makes the statement that they are already "washed" and only need feet to be washed. Of course, this may not explicitly/only refer to their baptism, for they were washed by the Word. However, the element of water tying both the events of water baptism and washing of feet signifying the greater spiritual truth of wholistic salvation (of body-soul-spirit) cannot be ignored. They need to wash before they sit at the Table.

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean…” (John 13:8-10)
Following are examples of the sequence:
FIRST: "...all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,"
THEN: "...all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." (1Cor 10:2-4)

FIRST: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
THEN: "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Example from Church History
A glimpse into the Early Church practice of the Lord’s Supper is obtained from Justin Martyr who lived between 103-165 AD; in his First Apology, he wrote:
Chap. LXV.—Administration of the Sacraments. But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Chap. LXVI.—Of the Eucharist. And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, (Luke 22:19) this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone.
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POEM FOR FATHER AND MOTHER

FATHER
Like the sky that burns red so that the earth stays cool,
And its bluest color tells how hot is the noon;
Like the lightning rod that takes the bolt to the ground,
And the concrete slabs that take the beatings of storms,
He stands to cover, to comfort, and to calm,
And asks for nothing, giving all.

MOTHER
Her womb is God's crucible where a child is formed,
Her bosom is the place where comfort is found,
Her lips pour wisdom that guards our soul
And sets it on track to reach life's goal.

"My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother" (Pro.1:8)

(c) June 13, 2017

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Matthew 6:31-33

"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Mat 6:31-33)

The original sense of nakedness was from that deep insecurity of autonomy that sprung from man's first alienation from God due to sin-- spiritual death. Seeking God marks man's refusal to stay alienated by turning towards His Maker in whom alone is Covering and true Security and no reason to be ashamed anymore.

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