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(IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT)
A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULLFILLMENT IN M.A. (BIBLICAL COUNSELING) .
D. Rajendra Paul, MTh.
‘CARE’ COUNSELING INSTITUTE
(Affiliated to TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition) P O Box 965, Elkhorn, NE 68022 USA, www.topic.us ) email@example.com H. No. 9-2-754, St. Francis Street Secunderabad – 500 025, India.
Statement of Sources
This dissertation contains no material published elsewhere or extracted in whole or in part from a thesis by which I have qualified for or been awarded another degree or diploma.
No other person’s work has been used without due acknowledgement in the main text of the dissertation.
This dissertation has not been submitted for the award of any degree or diploma in any other tertiary institution.
I nor the institute do not affirm or confirm totally by the ideology, concepts or doctrines of the literature used to write this thesis. Only that data which has got filtered through Protestant Christian Biblical Conservative Theology has been incorporated. If found not so thus brought to notice will be rectified.
2nd May 2007 Mahaveer Janapala
Near Saint Thomas Mount Chennai, India.
Abstract In India, where the religious conversion issue needs to be located in a multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious milieu, has been even more complex. Indian theologians took three routes. The secular approach looked to the integration of Hindu and Christian communities. The liberation approach reinterpreted the motives for conversion. The enculturation approach emphasized the continuity of these religious traditions. The root cause of poverty is human sinfulness, not infrequently manifested in acts of selfishness and greed that deprive the poor of their basic rights to an abundant life. Rich and poor alike are in need of Christ’s redemption. To reject this Christian view, or any other worldview, means that one prefers another view of reality. Worldviews are ultimate. They govern our entire outlook on life. But the apologists for any belief system must attempt to show why their view is truer than other ones. This is a part of the journey of discovering faith with reason. Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His Will. It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature. A stumbling block is something that causes us to err or to stray from the truth. Eternal validation does not rely on the unpredictable fickleness of other people or the unintentional human shortcomings within us. It refers to a personal relationship with a powerful God who desires to take us beyond our heritage and traditions so that we can discover our ultimate God-given purpose in life. The person who knows his or her purpose is destined to make a difference. When sociological conversion is rejected and spiritual conversion is demonstrated within Hindu families and communities there is great hope for a significant turning of Hindus to the living Christ.
2. Religious Conversion
3. Spiritual Regeneration
5. Stumbling Blocks and Exhortations
6. Immersion Baptism
7. Witnessing in Christ
8. Affirmations and Conclusions
1. Introduction Most studies of mass movements in India have dealt with the conversion of tribal peoples or untouchables to Christianity. Conversion in the case of tribal peoples is similar to those of other non-literate cultures. Non-literate cultures tend to take a pragmatic approach to religion and are willing to utilize whatever forms appear most effective. Where other peoples appear especially powerful non-literates will readily accept their religious forms in order to obtain the power it is perceived to have. New forms are readily adopted and old, dysfunctional ones fade as the situation demands. Change occurs often, yet imperceptibly, since there are no written records to confirm that such a change has taken place. However, once a literate tradition is accepted boundaries become clearly defined. While non-literate peoples may readily convert to the literate tradition, movement away from it appears more difficult. Untouchables represent largely non-literate persons with a marginal position within the literate tradition of Hinduism. While excluded from access to the most important Hindu texts, they are none the less essential to village Hindu life, as distinct from the tribal peoples who generally inhabit separate areas. Untouchables organize themselves in patterns similar to other Hindus especially in terms of their corporate identity. Conversion in these cases represents dissatisfaction with the status conferred upon them by higher caste Hindus and an attempt to raise that status by adopting a new identity.1 By the initiative of His grace through His Son Jesus Christ, God has accomplished everything necessary to restore mankind to the functional intent for which He created him. That divine intent was that the life and character of God might be present within the man, allowing for the expression of such in man's behavior unto the glory of God. Originally the spiritual life of God had been breathed into man (Gen. 2:7), but that divine life had been displaced by spiritual death, the personal resource of "the one having the power of death, that is the adversary" (Heb. 2:14), when man willfully chose to respond to the ungodly temptation in sin. Since all men were "in Adam" (I Cor. 15:22) and all the descendants of Adam come into being spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1, 5), the need of mankind is to be "brought into being again" with the reinvestiture of divine life within man. This is the meaning of the term "regeneration:" the prefix re is from the Latin language meaning "again;" generation is etymologically derived from the Latin generare, and that from the Greek genesis, which means "to bring into being" either by creation or by birth. This latter Greek word is the one affixed as a title to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, which obviously is the account of all things being "brought into being" by God in the beginning.2 Most of us desire to live a well-balanced life. To this end it is important to realize that a man's life exists on two planes - horizontal and vertical. On the horizontal plane we relate to one another. On the vertical plane we relate to God. These two planes are on a fixed, center axis. In reality, the answer to a well-balanced life doesn't lie in correcting the horizontal plane. The answer lies in correcting the vertical plane of our lives. A right relationship with God will affect every other relationship we have and, thus, bring the horizontal plane into balance. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). The weakness of psychology is that the psychologist that is seeking to help you with your interpersonal problems, often deal only with symptoms. The heart of the problem lies in your relationship with God, and, until this is right, nothing else can be right. By turning to the Word of God (The Holy Bible), we find that to have a right relationship with God we must have a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In the Bible we also find that to have a right relationship with one another we must live in obedience to God's ordained principles. The Word teaches us the specific principles, ordained by God, that bring us love and harmony in the family. 3
2. Religious Conversion Religious conversion has often been a matter of excessive reaction and debate all over the world. In India, where the issue needs to be located in a multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious milieu, it has been even more complex. In the period of the British Raj, Rammohan Roy argued that Christ could be experienced without conversion. Joshua Marshman in Srerampore did not agree. John Muir claimed that a true religion has a miracle-working founder, a Holiness of scripture and a universality of the scripture. According to the Enlightenment rationality these features were present only in Christianity. A number of pundits took issue against John Muir between 1839 and 1845 on this question. Their arguments were based on the Vedas and the philosophy of dharma-karma.4 During the 1840's it was increasingly clear to the Nadar community (Tirunelveli, South India) that conversion to Christianity meant social improvement. Oddie discusses this phenomenon: By the 1840's, Christian Shanars were already expanding their economic activities to include work in sugar refineries in Cuddalore or on coffee plantations in Ceylon, as a result of which they were sending money back to relatives in Tirunelveli district. Progress in education and an improving economic position, evident in these and other economic activities were accompanied by a growing self-awareness and improvements in social status. In fact, as early as 1849, Caldwell, in his work The Tinnevelly Shanars, noted that “generally . . . conversion to Christianity is found to raise rather than lower them in the social scale.” Unlike higher-caste converts, the Shanars, who converted in groups together, did not lost status, and were not usually ejected from the broader caste community . . . Not only did they not lose case, but, as Hardgrave has pointed out, having connections with the CMS (Church Missionary Society founded in 1799) or other Protestant missions provided them with a network of opportunities in education and in other activities that had the effect of greatly improving the community’s social standing.5 Christianity was at the time an exception. I developed a sort of dislike for it and for a reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school and hold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could not endure this. I must have stood there to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade me from repeating the experiment. About the same time, I heard of a well-known Hindu having been converted to Christianity. It was the talk of the town that, when he was baptized, he had to eat beef and drink liquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in European costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religion that compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change one's own clothes did not deserve the name. I also heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors, their customs and their country. All these things created in me a dislike for Christianity. … I met a good Christian from Manchester in a vegetarian boarding house. He talked to me about Christianity. I narrated to him my Rajkot recollections. He was pained to hear them. He said, 'I am a vegetarian. I do not drink. Many Christians are meat- eaters and drink, no doubt; but neither meat eating nor drinking is enjoined in the scripture. Do please read the Bible.' I accepted his advice, and he got me a copy. … The Sermon on the Mount went straight to my heart… The verses, 'But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man takes away thy coat let him have thy cloke too,' delighted me beyond measure… That renunciation was the highest form of religion M. K. Gandhi appealed to me greatly. 6 M.K. Gandhi was firmly against conversion, especially in relation to Christianity. Religion, according to him, is something one is born with. On this issue, E. Stanley Jones in 1931 argued that Christians should not use hospitals and schools as an aid to conversion. He claimed that religious ideas could be separated from one’s socio-cultural heritage. M.K. Gandhi had also seen conversion as yet another political move by the Harijans. He saw the Indian Christian community as an appendage of the missionaries and not as a separate spiritual community in its own right. According to him, conversion takes place legitimately in the spiritual realm of the individual. In contrast to this viewpoint, V.S. Azariah, in his various writings on mass conversion from 1935 to 1937, claimed that conversion also embraced socio-political realms of the human community. It transformed the community. Many Hindus challenged this.
According to Kim, the 19th century debates focused on the individual conversion of high-caste Hindus while the 20th century debates focused more on the mass conversions of Harijans. Some of the objections to conversion raised by Hindus included the establishment of the fact that the Hindu religion was a true religion; that all religions were the same; that conversion denationalizes and that it was imposed by a colonial power, it brings about denominations, is socially disruptive, involves religious controversy, and that conversion uses abusive and unfair methods, among others. Yet, it is a fact that such conversions were ultimately permitted as the following statement from Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India makes clear: ‘Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practice and propagate religion.’ Christians were at pains to maintain differences between recent Indian converts and themselves. It is also relevant in the light of recent appointments to high positions in the church from the Chotanagpur region among the indigenous converts in 2003. As the debates on conversion among Protestant theologians in India between 1966-1971 show (p. 108): ‘In spite of their honest search for an answer to the communal problems supposedly caused by conversion, Indian Protestant theologians appear, by limiting the implications of conversion to the individual and spiritual realms of life, to have caused a weakening of the "character and energy" of the Christian community. Any theology that encouraged Indian Christians to conform to Hindu society left them in a dilemma that they were neither accepted as Hindus nor able to identify themselves with a Christian community.’ Conversion was relieved of its religious import, according to many Hindus. It was carried out for social objectives. Only Christians, in other words, need not do conversion; any religion could be a vehicle for such social change. As a result, ‘conversion, especially mass conversion, lacks spiritual motives’ (p. 130). However, for dalits and tribals, many motives could be important for conversion. Both Christianity and Islam had problems of caste and class inequality. The debates also centered on the fact that ‘dalits lack spirituality’ and conversion was just a mode of opportunism for them (p. 130). From the 1980s the debate shifted to the arguments presented for Hindutva against world evangelization from 1994-95. For Arun Shourie, Hinduism was ‘a unified philosophy with only one acceptable expression, Hindutva. He not only tried to make Christianity conform to this mould but also ignored the changing nature and diversity of Hinduism’ (p. 153). He articulated what many Hindus thought and felt at the time – that Christian missionary, instead of reforming Hindu society and Hinduism it, chose to convert Hindus to Christianity. They saw, according to him, that Hinduism was primarily responsible for the injustice and problems of Indian society and the only possible solution was to convert and to renounce the ‘past’ (p. 152). The author, in conclusion, also points out that the same unification and lack of communication between different kinds of Christianity was apparent among Christians also. This was the background to the violence relating to conversions in the Dangs region of Gujarat and the murder of Graham Staines, coupled with the increase in numbers of Christian missionaries in India. In 1998-99, the author points out that both the Sangh Parivar as well as the Christians accused each other’s practice of conversions as being politically motivated and lacking in spiritual dimensions. Both are clearly religious movements. Arguments from both are based on their understanding of religious conversion.4 Protestant missions in Andhra Pradesh like that elsewhere in India enjoyed their greatest success among scheduled castes and tribes. Missionaries regarded this development as a confirmation of their work among the depressed classes, and expected that the Christian message could percolate upwards to the higher castes. Bishop Pickett argued this thesis in his study of the movement Christ'-s Way to India's Heart. He felt that caste Hindus were impressed by the positive changes exhibited by the converts. Pickett supports his argument by giving anecdotal accounts of caste Hindus who were influenced by untouchable converts. He also shows that the bulk of caste conversions occurred in areas where the mass movement among Malas and Madigas was also strong. B.A. Oddie in his later study ‘Christian Conversion among Non-Brahmans in Andhra Pradesh’ supports Pickett's thesis noting that the majority of Sudras converting were of the agricultural castes that had the most contact with Christian converts.
The most numerous "Sudra" conversions reported occurred among the subcastes of the Yannadis, Lambadis, Yerkulas, Waddaras. Telegas. Kammas, Yadowas and Reddis. The Yerukalas and Waddaras were semi-tribal people who had a reputation for stealing and in the 1920's were compelled by the Criminal Tribes Act to remain in a fixed location under police surveillance. Many of these people clearly became Christians in order to escape harassment from police and village officials. Admitted one Yerukalas convert: Owing to the unbearable oppression of the village authorities not only myself but also all my kinsfolk have become Christians. In former times when a theft occurred, whoever might be the thief, the village authorities used to arrest us and put us in prison for some days. But since we have become Christians we are free from such troubles. No one is bold enough to touch us without the permission of our pastor. Besides that we are now worshiping the true God. Besides assistance in their dealings with police authorities, the impoverished Yerukalas and Waddaras also sought missionary aid in obtaining tracts of land that had been made available to the missionaries for distribution among the depressed classes. In these cases, where such aid was not forthcoming, the converts quickly renounced Christianity. The Yerukalas and Waddaras were eager to receive the same educational benefits that the missionaries had made available. From this it would seem that these groups were impressed by the material gains obtained by the untouchables through their conversion but they had little interest in social and spiritual change. The Telegas, Kammas, Yadowas and Reddis, unlike the foregoing possessed clear credentials as Sudras. Of these groups, the Kammas converted in the greatest number and the conversion of some of them in the Guntur district is the best documented. The Kammas played a leading role in the non-Brahman movement under the leadership of the Justice Party that dominated politics in the Madras Presidency during the 1920's. This movement originated as a protest against the leadership of the Brahmans of South India in political and social life. The Brahmans had been the first to acquire western education in this area and thereby obtained a near-monopoly on government positions. The Justice Party pressed for a quota system in order to insure representation of all groups. They opposed the nationalist movement since they believed it would only consolidate the dominant position of the Brahmans. Opposition to the Brahmans expressed itself in the religious realm as well. The Smritis, the Puranas and even the Ramayana received criticism for being weighed in favor of the Aryans over the Dravidians and for containing humiliating references to non-Brahmans. The dissatisfaction on the part of the Kammas and other dominant Sudra groups, who in economic terms were part of the ruling class, with the Hindu social system that gave supernatural sanction to their being relegated to an inferior status, provided a contributing factor that allowed for the conversion of significant numbers of them. While the anti-Brahminical sentiment and growing secularism of the Kammas probably made them more tolerant of conversion than they might otherwise have been, the conversions themselves came from corners far removed from the political agitation. Contrary to what has been suggested by a number apologist for the work of missionaries among the untouchables, mass movements rarely moved up in the caste structure. Where caste conversions did occur they were usually independent of the mass movements among the scheduled castes. In a few cases caste Hindus converted simply to obtain real or imagined material benefits from the missionaries. When those were not forthcoming they quickly fell away. Conversion was most likely to occur among caste Hindus who, like the untouchables, had become dissatisfied with their ritual status within the Hindu system. Lack of strong caste sanctions against conversion also provided a contributing factor. In some cases Christians from the scheduled castes did succeed in influencing caste conversions. They did so by mediating Christianity to Hindus in terms of their own religious paradigms and conceptions of piety. In Andhra Pradesh conversions, both among untouchables and caste Hindus, occurred strictly along caste lines and seem to have been primarily motivated by the need for a new corporate identity. Since Independence Christian conversions have slowed considerably in Andhra and among caste Hindu has ceased almost entirely. This is partly because conversion to Christianity came to be seen as an unpatriotic act that aligned oneself with the former colonialists. Gandhi's opposition to conversion perpetuated this feeling. Untouchables probably had greater hopes at this time for social justice within the Hindu system. As western countries began to withdraw their financial support and missionary assistance from India, the
indigenous church found it increasingly unable to support further expansions and had not yet generated sufficient Indian leadership to carry on the work. Consequently most of their resources are devoted to consolidation work among persons already at least nominally converted. While this work progresses slowly, ultimately we can expect its success. The growing scriptualism in Christianity will probably make compromises with Hindu culture less tolerable as literacy grows. The degree to which the Christian become a clearly distinct community within the Hindu villages may be the degree to which it will not prove attractive to the higher castes.1 Common-sense dictates that the absence of a system of conversion within Hinduism makes it by implication, more humane, tolerant and perhaps superior to proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity. This, in fact, may be said to be one of the subtexts of the political discourse, especially over the last fifteen years or so. However, it needs to be pointed out that the roots of such a perception that proselytizing faiths are the ‘Other’ go back a longer way. While colonial exploitation and its association with Christianity have, among other features, contributed to the creation of this idea, colonial and postcolonial communal politics, and more recently, Hindu fundamentalism, have sustained it. Here we should mention the stereotypical images of Christianity as fiercely proselytizing that one encounters in parts of India, more specifically in urban/coastal Orissa today. After the gruesome murder of the missionary Graham Staines and his two children, it was quite normal to encounter people who made it appear as if padres were waiting around every corner in Orissa to convert you. This socio-reformist movement that united the western and the coastal tract was also marked by its ambiguity vis-à-vis colonialism. This latter aspect is perhaps demonstrated in the way its followers did not take up Christianity, which made its presence particularly felt in the coastal tracts in the immediate context of the Famine and also in the western tracts over the nineteenth century. Here one has to keep in mind the question of selectivity -Christianity was, after all, closely identified with colonialism and the process that had devastated the world of the adivasis and the outcastes. At the same time, the cult‘s stress on the missionary character perhaps reveals an attempt to draw from this component of Christianity. What we see in the cult is a coexistence that relates to an aloofness from Christianity, a silence vis-à-vis colonialism and an opposition that was directed against the varna order and the process of Hinduisation. The conversion to Christianity was rather nuanced, and not as simple as it is normally made out to be either in the missionary tracts or the Oriya press. Moreover, it should be made adequately clear that the magnitude of conversions to Christianity was hardly felt in the region, in spite of the projections. The association of Christianity with colonialism was the most serious stumbling block and this perhaps explains why it was never seen as a serious option, although serious efforts were made in this direction and many outposts were created for the purpose. After saying this one should perhaps delineate certain complexities associated with the shift to Christianity. In a context of uncertainties and insecurities the Oraons, for example, felt that Christianity protected them from the witches and bhoots, who were powerless against this system. Moreover, like the converts to the varna order who participated in the Hindu as well as tribal festivals, the converts to Christianity observed certain customs and beliefs that were antithetical to the basic tenets of Christianity. They participated in tribal festivals and when asked about their identity, mentioned their tribe, suppressing the Christian connection.7 Sandy Martin’s Questionnaire: Contemporary Hindu Responses to Jesus to Sita Ram Goel What significance, if any, do you think Jesus has for Hindus around the world today? 1. If there is significance, how is Jesus primarily understood — as Jesus or as a Christ, and if the latter, is this the equivalent of avatar? If not, how is avatar best understood today? 2. With what strand of Hinduism is Jesus most closely associated today? Is such association primarily linked to Hinduism in the West or does it also apply to the Indian situation? 3. Have Hindu understandings of Jesus changed since Hinduism's expansion into the West and the movement towards it of many western devotees?
4. Many liberal Christian theologians criticize Hindu interpretations of Jesus as being out of touch with recent Christian 'discoveries' of the Jewish ness of Jesus and his historical context. What would be your response to this critique, arising as it does from a very different worldview? 5. Study so far suggests to me that Hindu interest in Jesus arose initially as a reaction against western Christian imperialism in India; this later changed to an incorporation of Jesus within a Hindu framework divorced from received western Christianity. Since the threat of Christianity subsided, there appears to have been no real development of Hindu responses to Jesus. How would you assess this critique? 6. Would there have been a natural interest in Jesus without the encounter in India during British rule there? If so, how might this have differed from current interpretations? If it had arisen from within a friendly interfaith exchange, would the Hindu response have been different? 7. Could you please summarize your personal perspective as a Hindu to the Hindu-Christian dialogue and the relevance of Jesus to that? S R Goel replies: First of all, there are now very few Hindu thinkers who are interested in Jesus Christ, one-way or the other. Secondly, Hindu thinkers who have studied Jesus Christ in depth and who thus qualify for the dialogue are fewer still. Thirdly, knowledgeable Hindus are hardly the Hindus whom Christian groups are likely to invite for dialogue. They pick up Hindus who suit their purpose, with the result that Hindu participants are no more than mere presence reported in the Christian press. For all practical purposes, the current Hindu-Christian dialogue is a Christian monologue. It seems that Christian theologians in India have lost completely their self-confidence of earlier days. Nor is there any truth in the missionary propaganda abroad, namely, that Hindus are hungering for Jesus or that, in the words of Mother Teresa, Hindus need Christ. This may help the missionaries to raise funds and gain other types of support from their Western patrons. But the fact remains that this is as big a lie in the present as it was in the past. Hindus have never been hungry for Jesus nor have they ever been in need of Christ, notwithstanding the “harvest” which missionaries have reaped from time to time. The force and fraud and material allurements involved in the missionary methods tell the true story. Now I will take up your questions. 1. Jesus as such has never had any significance for Hindus at large. At best he means to them one religious teacher among many others. The educated Hindus have been fed for a long time and by some of the best Hindu leaders on the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, the Jesus who saved the adulteress from being stoned, and the Jesus who cried from the cross that those who had wronged him might be forgiven. But for Hindus like me who have studied him first-hand and in the context of the history he has created all through these two thousand years, he means death to Hinduism and all that it stands for, the same as in the case of many Pagan religions and cultures around the world. 2. To the best of my knowledge, no Hindu thinker has ever accepted Jesus as the Christ. Some Hindu thinkers may have called him an avatar, but no Hindu thinker has ever equated him with Rama, or Krishna, or the Buddha. Hindus, who know the shastric meaning of avatar as also the theological meaning of Christ, will never equate the two terms. In any case, I have not come across any Hindu literature on the subject. Christian theologians have tried to put their own words in Hindu mouths, or their own meanings in Hindu terms. But that is another story. Hindu scholars are not at all eager to get credit for such exercises. 3. Christian theologians have tried for many years to relate Jesus to practically every strand of Hinduism — from Advaita to Bhakti. But I wonder why they have not been able to make up their mind and say for sure that this is the strand of Hinduism which needs Jesus as it crown. So far it has been a free for all, which shows what they are about. They are out to try different Hindu versions of Jesus on different sections of Hindu society. There have also been a few Hindus who have tried to see this or that strand of Hinduism in Jesus. But they have done so in order to prove that Jesus was some sort of a Hindu, or that Christianity has borrowed from Hinduism. I have yet to know of a Hindu who has asked Hindus to rally round Jesus because he is close to some strand
of Hinduism. For Hindus like me who have studied Hinduism as well as Jesus, he can be related to no strand in Hinduism. We see in him a dark force arising from the lower levels of human nature. Hinduism in its essence can have nothing to do with the likes of him except as villains a la Vritra or Ravana or Kamsa. I am not competent to answer this question because I really do not know anything about Hinduism's expansion into the West. All I know is that some Hindu swamis are getting audiences, even followers, in the West. I know the Hare Krishna movement also to a certain extent. Friends in the USA told me that some Hindu swamis start with fulsome hymns to Jesus before they come to their subject proper, or tell their audience that they are not saying anything which was not said by Jesus long ago but which the Christian West has missed. I can understand the strategy, witting or unwitting. But I cannot approve of it. I want Hindu swamis to be more self-confident, and not lean on Jesus. I met some converts to Hinduism in the USA. They came under the influence of another convert turned guru. They did not tell me that they were dissatisfied with Jesus, only that the new guru was more satisfying. The other type of Western converts to Hinduism I have met in India. In their case the rejection of Jesus and the whole Judeo-Christian tradition is total. But all this is not sufficient for me to draw any firm conclusions. In any case, I am not aware of any new understanding of Jesus dawning in this country simply because some people in the West feel drawn towards Hinduism. I am afraid I have not understood your question. Which are the Hindu interpretations of Jesus that liberal Christian theologians are criticizing? So far I have known only one Hindus interpretation of Jesus, namely, that he was a good man, preaching humility, compassion, and forgiveness. Thus Hindus have remained out of touch not only with recent Christian “discoveries” but with all Christian “discoveries” at all times. Jesus has never meant so much to them as to make them go into Christological researches. I have not come across a single book on Christology written by a Hindu. Even educated and modern Hindus are not aware of the subject. But I am sure that once they get informed they will feel more at home with Jesus the Jewish preacher in a historical context than they have done with Jesus the Christ. For instance, I am conversant with the latest researches. I find Jesus the Jew more acceptable than the Jesus of Christian theology. You are quite correct that Hindus were forced to take interest in Jesus only because he came with Western imperialism, and threatened Hinduism in all sorts of ways. But you are not correct when you say that they incorporated Jesus in a Hindu framework. Before Western imperialism came to this country Hindus had lived with Islamic imperialism for several centuries, and learnt the art of flattering the bully out of his crude hectoring and cruel deeds. They appealed to the mullah and the Sufi in the name of “true” Islam and the “real” Muhammad. The art also became a belief in some sections of Hindu society with the passing of time. But it will be untrue to say that Muhammad was ever incorporated into the Hindu framework. The same applies to the Jesus of Western imperialism. Hindus have only tried to beat the missionaries with their own stick, that is, by inventing a “true” Jesus and praising him to the skies while denouncing proselytize in his name. That is all. And that also has come to an end with the coming of independence. Christian missionaries can no more afford to be bullies. Hindus are no more in need of the “true” Jesus. Now they are bothered only about the Christian missions as a political problem. No new response to Jesus is called for. Christian theologians are deluding themselves if they think that Jesus has ever meant anything much to the Hindus. Hindus had heard of Jesus even before the British advent. Jesus was very much present in Islamic theology. But I am not aware of any Hindu taking notice of him in the medieval times. They would have shown the same indifference to him, had he come with preachers without any backing of bayonets. Hindus have never denied to anyone the freedom to preach what one likes. They have their own way of smiling at only sons and sole saviors. They remained indifferent to Muhammad so long it was only some Sufis settling down among them and presenting him as the last prophet. But they had to take notice of Muhammad when the Sufis invited the swordsmen of Islam. So also in the case of Jesus. Even today, take away the financial and political backing which the powerful West provides to Jesus and see the results. Hindus will have no objection to Christian preachers trying to make converts. But I am very doubtful about the Hindu response to Jesus being more positive or substantial than it has been so far. Hindus have thousands of saints, and Jesus comes nowhere near even the most minor of their spiritual teachers. If all the military might, financial largesse, and media power of the West has failed to impress Jesus on the Hindu mind all these years, there is no reason to believe that he will fare better without this equipment.
8. The most worthwhile Hindu-Christian dialogue took place when Raja Rammohun Roy, Swami Dayananda, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi spoke from the Hindu side. John Mott and the Tambaram conference of the International Missionary Council (1938) found the Christian missionaries at the end of their wits in the face of Mahatma Gandhi. They would have been nowhere if Nehruvian secularism, a continuation of Western imperialism, had not rescued them out of the tight corner into which they had been driven. They resurged forward, and devised new mission strategies of Indigenization and Liberation, etc. They also achieved some notable success, particularly in the Northeast. But they never felt the need of a Hindu-Christian dialogue any more. Why are they in need of it now? The Second Vatican is invoked as the new inspiration. But the Second Vatican itself has to be explained. The airs of condescension have not taken us in in the papal declaration of 1965 about Hinduism. We know that Christianity has never made concessions out of an inner seeking. In fact, the word “inner” is not applicable in the case of Christianity. It has always used or bowed down to outer circumstances. The Second Vatican saw that Christianity was in a bad shape in the West, and had to find a new home in the East. Dialogue with Hinduism and Buddhism became the new mission strategy. But unfortunately for the Christian mission, Hindus have shown no interest in the dialogue. Nor are they likely to show any interest so long as the missionary apparatus is maintained intact and the right to convert is insisted upon. It amounts to picking my pocket after making me look the other way. I have told my friends such as Raimundo Panikkar that if they are sincere about a dialogue with Hindus, they should denounce the missionary apparatus. They smile and dismiss me as a Hindu chauvinist. Even so, we are prepared for a dialogue provided the Christian side does not lay down the ground rules. That is not acceptable to them. What they want us to accept in the first instance is that Christianity has a lot in common with Hinduism, that Christianity is a great and unique religion, that Jesus is a spiritual power, and that Hindus should have no objection to Christian missions. We will not walk into the trap. In any case, we are in a dialogue with them through Voice of India publications. They have refused to respond so far. We do not know whether the silence is prompted by the fear of losing the argument, or by the self-satisfied smugness of those who wield big money, big organization, and big influence. Jesus has a relevance to the dialogue if the Christian side allows us to present him as we and not they see him. Why should we not have our say? 8 Hindus saw Christian conversion as proselytism. They saw the Church as encouraging people to leave their community and join the Christian community leading to the attendant communal tensions, use of unethical methods, and the dubious motives on the part of Christian converts. The Christians reacted on the basis of the fundamental rights in the Constitution and the fact that conversion was the heart of Christian belief and practice. Indian theologians took three routes. The secular approach looked to the integration of Hindu and Christian communities. The liberation approach reinterpreted the motives for conversion. The enculturation approach emphasized the continuity of this religious traditions.4 The mission of new Christian movements takes place in a context of massive poverty, social change and increasing tensions related to rising militant religious nationalism. Historically Christian mission has found its authenticity in initiatives among the poor and oppressed as the preceding examples have shown. The mission of the Church is not limited to the marginalized. Yet the overwhelming response to the gospel has been from the margins. The transformational power of the gospel has made possible a new identity of dignity and worth for oppressed peoples. Bishop George Ninan states, “Empowering of the powerless and the marginalized is the key to alleviating poverty and bringing about justice, peace and integrity.” Felix Wilfred calls for a “rethinking of mission in relation to religious pluralism, massive poverty, oppression and injustice. There can be no true understanding of the nature of evangelization in this country without bringing into focus these pressing issues.” Integrity of the gospel demands that evangelicals grapple with the root causes of poverty. At root the struggle is not for the wealth that the rich have but for their heart. Conversion is a call to a spirituality of discipleship (spiritual regeneration). The root cause of poverty is human sinfulness, not infrequently manifested in acts of selfishness and greed that deprive the poor of their basic rights to an abundant life. Rich and poor alike are in need of Christ’s redemption.
The Christian mission involves rescuing humans from the powers of darkness and bringing them under the influence of the realm of God’s kingdom of justice and new life in Christ. Evangelization is the multifaceted process of bringing this about. For whole sections of society this has meant the beginning of a new identity in Christ. The evil powers that have marred the self-identity of the poor are to be displaced by the power of the Kingdom of God affirming their humanity and the image of God in them. A distorted image of God is our common human lot. In the words of an old hymn, we all are sinners, ruined by the fall. The good news is about the possibility of a new beginning. Grinding poverty mars the image, but the image can be restored. A start can be made. This shaping of humans into the image of God is accomplished in the context of the church (that is, community). Therefore, community is an essential corollary to belief 9 that we are made in the image of God. All belief systems make truth-claims. Truth-claims by their very nature imply that contrary assertions are false. It is impossible for two genuinely opposite truth-claims to be simultaneously true. Although the law of contradiction may not be popular when applied to religious beliefs, it is still undeniable “that two antithetical propositions cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. X cannot be non-X. A thing cannot be and not be simultaneously. And nothing that is true can be self-contradictory or inconsistent with any other truth. All logic depends on this simple principle. Rational thought and meaningful discourse demand it. Tension between differing religious ideas has existed all throughout human history. But the need to exercise true tolerance towards others’ beliefs does not mean that one has to champion the irrational idea that all views are equally true. Christianity, like all belief systems, is exclusive in the sense that it asserts its claims are true. There is nothing wrong with believing that some things are true and others false. Although many accuse absolutists of intolerance, these accusers most likely have an unclear and distorted notion of what tolerance really is. They are often unaware that the concept of tolerance implies a close relationship to truth. Contrary to popular definitions, true tolerance means ‘putting up with error’ - not ‘being accepting of all views’…It is because real differences exist between people that tolerance becomes necessary and virtuous. Christianity’s adherents include both converted Jews and Gentiles. The Christian faith crosses racial, ethnic, social, lingual, and national boundaries. It includes all people groups, from every nation, tribe, kindred, and tongue. (Rev 7:9) Its membership is inclusive and diverse, but its belief system is exclusive and dogmatic. Biblical Christianity rejects the falsehood that all beliefs are equal. As a belief system it claims to present truth about God, man, and the world. While the Bible directs Christians to be sensitive towards others’ feelings it nonetheless admonishes those same believers to “Go into the entire world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16) To reject this Christian view, or any other worldview, means that one prefers another view of reality. Worldviews are ultimate. They govern our entire outlook on life. We make judgments about everything, especially other views, with our current worldview. Those who challenge the integrity of the Bible as God’s Word do so because they have adopted another worldview. No one may legitimately say, "I don't know what view is right, but I know that you’re wrong." The reason why anyone thinks another view is wrong is because they believe their view (whatever it may be) is correct. The world contains many differing conceptions of reality. It is the evangelical Christian’s contention that anti-Christianity in all its forms is arbitrary. We see it to be held together by will power, energy of assertion and the turning of a blind eye to awkward facts rather than by force of evidence or cogency of argument. These are serious charges. But the apologists for any belief system must attempt to show why their view is truer than other ones. This is a part of the journey of discovering faith with reason. 10
3. Spiritual Regeneration The Christian Church was established upon the firm presupposition that God revealed Himself to man in history and that this revelation was recorded in the divinely inspired writings of the Bible. If this is true then “Christian” beliefs cannot just be concocted out of thin air. If God has spoken truthfully and with authority, as claimed by the writers of Christian scripture, then how would it be possible to justify truthclaims that contradict the scripture? The Bible clearly teaches God as the highest authority, and depicts His Word as being self-attesting. Those who claim to be Christians should presuppose the whole Bible is God’s Word upon its own authority. There can be no competing sources of authority from which professing Christians can legitimately draw their conceptions of God, man, or the cosmos. Only a biblically based Christian theology can serve as an authoritative foundation for Christian beliefs because it is upon the authority of the Christian scripture as God’s Word that the Church was founded. The Church’s orthodox beliefs are rooted in the Bible’s many distinctive truth-claims. In biblical Christianity God is not a thing, power, or influence. God is not some kind of impersonal force or mind. The God of the Bible is a personal being, meaning that He is self-conscious, intelligent, and possesses self-determination. (Ex 3:14, 20:2; Jn 14:9) Historic Christianity has taught that there is one God. This oneness refers to His unity. His divine nature is undivided and indivisible (Deut 4: 35-39, 6:4; 1 Ki 8:60; Jn 17:3). Yet this unity does not mean singleness. The unity of God allows for the existence of three personal distinctions in the divine nature, while at the same time recognizing that the divine nature is numerically and eternally one. The three personal distinctions are co-substantial, co-dependent and coeternal persons. God is Triune (Gen 1:26; 3:22; Matt 3:16; 2 Cor 13:14) 10 I believe in God, the Father (Creator), the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son (the one, the only and the eternal God the Incarnation, the Transformed Being not created), our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit (God the Transformed Ghost not produced), born of the virgin Mary (just a surrogate mother, with no divinity nor deity whatsoever), Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hades; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (general) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. The Apostle’s Creed Exegesis Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His Will (Matt. 19:28; John 3:3,5,7; Titus 3:5). It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature. The word Regeneration is only found in Matt. 19:28 and Titus 3:5. This word literally means a "new birth." The Greek word so rendered (palingenesia) is used by classical writers with reference to the changes produced by the return of spring. In Matt. 19:28 the word is equivalent to the "restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21). In Titus 3:5 it denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life (1 John 3:14); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17); being born again (John 3:5); a renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2); a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:6); a being quickened (2:1, 5). This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 2:29; 5:1, 4). As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition
in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature "dead in trespasses and sins." The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture (John 3: 3; Rom. 7:18; 8:7-9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1; 4:21-24). (Easton Illustrated Dictionary) Regeneration, or new birth, is an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8). The Bible conceives salvation as the redemptive renewal of man on the basis of a restored relationship with God in Christ, and presents it as involving "a radical and complete transformation wrought in the soul (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) by God the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5; Eph. 4:24), by virtue of which we become 'new men' (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), no longer conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9), but in knowledge and holiness of the truth created after the image of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2)" (B. B. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, 351). Regeneration is the "birth" by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the "growth" whereby it continues (I Pet. 2:2; II Pet. 3:18). Regeneration in Christ changes the disposition from lawless, Godless self-seeking (Rom. 3:9-18; 8:7) which dominates man in Adam into one of trust and love, of repentance for past rebelliousness and unbelief, and loving compliance with God's law henceforth. It enlightens the blinded mind to discern spiritual realities (I Cor. 2:14-15; II Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10), and liberates and energizes the enslaved will for free obedience to God (Rom. 6:14, 17-22; Phil. 2:13). The use of the figure of new birth to describe this change emphasizes two facts about it. The first is its decisiveness. The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness (see Rom. 6:3-11; II Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:9-11). The second fact emphasized is the monergism of regeneration. Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are "dead in trespasses and sins" prompt the quickening operation of God's Spirit within them (see Eph. 2:1-10). Spiritual vivification is a free, and to man mysterious, exercise of divine power (John 3:8), not explicable in terms of the combination or cultivation of existing human resources (John 3:6), not caused or induced by any human efforts (John 1:12-13) or merits (Titus 3:3-7), and not, therefore, to be equated with, or attributed to, any of the experiences, decisions, and acts to which it gives rise and by which it may be known to have taken place. Biblical Presentation The noun "regeneration" (palingenesia) occurs only twice. In Matt. 19:28 it denotes the eschatological "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21) under the Messiah for which Israel was waiting. This echo of Jewish usage points to the larger scheme of cosmic renewal within which that of individuals finds its place. In Titus 3:5 the word refers to the renewing of the individual. Elsewhere, the thought of regeneration is differently expressed. In OT prophecies regeneration is depicted as the work of God renovating, circumcising, and softening Israelite hearts, writing his laws upon them, and thereby causing their owners to know, love, and obey him as never before (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:31-34; 32:39-40; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:25-27). It is a sovereign work of purification from sin's defilement (Ezek. 36:25; cf. Ps. 51:10), wrought by the personal energy of God's creative out breathing the personal energy of God's creative out breathing ("spirit": Ezek. 36:27; 39:29). Jeremiah declares that such renovation on a national scale will introduce and signal God's new messianic administration of his covenant with his people (Jer. 31:31; 32:40). In the NT the thought of regeneration is more fully individualized, and in John's Gospel and First Epistle the figure of new birth, "from above" (anothen: John 3:3, 7, Moffatt), "of water and the Spirit" (i.e., through a purificatory operation of God's Spirit: see Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5; cf. 3:8), or simply "of God" (John 1:13, nine times in I John), is integral to the presentation of personal salvation. The verb gennao (which means both "beget" and "bear") is used in these passages in the aorist or perfect tense to denote the once-for-all divine work whereby the sinner, who before was only "flesh," and as such, whether he knew it or not, utterly incompetent in spiritual matters (John 3:3-7), is made "spirit" (John 3:6), i.e., is enabled and caused to receive and respond to the saving revelation of God in Christ. In the Gospel, Christ assures Nicodemus that there are no spiritual activities, no seeing or entering God's kingdom, because no faith in himself, without regeneration (John 3:1ff.); and John declares in the prologue that only the regenerate
receive Christ and enter into the privileges of God's children (John 1:12-13). Conversely, in the Epistle John insists that there is no regeneration that does not issue in spiritual activities. The regenerate do righteousness (I John 2:29) and do not live a life of sin (3:9; 5:18: the present tense indicates habitual lawkeeping, not absolute sinlessness, cf. 1:8-10); they love Christians (4:7), believe rightly in Christ, and experience faith's victory over the world (5:4). Any who do otherwise, whatever they claim, are still unregenerate children of the devil (3:6-10). Paul specifies the Christological dimensions of regeneration by presenting it as (1) a life giving coresurrection with Christ (Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13; cf. I Pet. 1:3); (2) a work of new creation in Christ (II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; Gal. 6:15). Peter and James make the further point that God "begets anew" (anagennao: I Pet. 1:23) and "brings to birth" (apokyeo: James 1:18) by means of the gospel. It is under the impact of the word that God renews the heart, so evoking faith (Acts 16:14-15). Historical Discussion The fathers did not formulate the concept of regeneration precisely. They equated it, broadly speaking with baptismal grace, which to them meant primarily (to Pelagius, exclusively) remission of sins. Augustine realized, and vindicated against Pelagianism, the necessity for prevenient grace to make man trust and love God, but he did not precisely equate this grace with regeneration. The Reformers reaffirmed the substance of Augustine's doctrine of prevenient grace, and Reformed theology still maintains it. Calvin used the term "regeneration" to cover man's whole subjective renewal, including conversion and sanctification. Many seventeenth century Reformed theologians equated regeneration with effectual calling and conversion with regeneration (hence the systematic mistranslation of epistrepho, "turn," as a passive, "be converted," in the AV); later Reformed theology has defined regeneration more narrowly, as the implanting of the "seed" from which faith and repentance spring (I John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling. Arminianism constructed the doctrine of regeneration synergistically, making man's renewal dependent on his prior cooperation with grace; liberalism constructed it naturalistically, identifying regeneration with a moral change or a religious experience. The fathers lost the biblical understanding of the sacraments as signs to sir up faith and seals to confirm believers in possession of the blessings signified, and so came to regard baptism as conveying the regeneration which it signified (Titus 3:5) ex opere operato to those who did not obstruct its working. Since infants could not do this, all baptized infants were accordingly considered regenerated. This view has persisted in all the non-Reformed churches of Christendom, and among sacra mentalists within Protestantism. J I Packer (Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) Scripture terms by which this work of God is designated:
• • • • •
Creating - Eph 4:24 Begetting - 1Jo 4:7 Quickening - Joh 5:21 Eph 2:5 Calling out of darkness into marvelous light - 1Pe 2:9 The subjects of it are said-o To be alive from the dead - Ro 6:13 o To be new creatures - 2Co 5:17 o To be born again, or anew - Joh 3:3,7 o To be God's workmanship - Eph 2:10
Proof that there is such a thing called regeneration.
• • • • •
The Scriptures declare that such a change is necessary - 2Co 5:17 Ga 6:15 The change is described - Eph 2:5 4:23 Jas 1:18 1Pe 1:23 It is necessary for the most moral as well as the most profligate - 1Co 15:10 Ga 1:13-16 That this change is not a mere reformation is proved by its being referred to the Holy Spirit. - Tit 3:5 In the comparison of man's state in grace with his state by nature. - Ro 6:13 8:6-10 Eph 5:8
In the experience of all Christians and the testimony of their lives.
Believers are subjected to supernatural or spiritual illumination, some proofs:
• • •
This is necessary. - Joh 16:3 1Co 2:14 2Co 3:14 4:3 The Scriptures expressly affirm it. - Ps 19:7,8 43:3,4 Joh 17:3 1Co 2:12,13 2Co 4:6 Eph 1:18 Php 1:19 Col 3:10 1Jo 4:7 5:20 The first effect of regeneration is to open the eyes of our understanding to the excellence of divine truth. The second effect is the going forth of the renewed affections toward that excellence perceived.
Proof of the absolute necessity of regeneration
• • •
The Scriptures assert it. - Joh 3:3 Ro 8:6,7 Eph 2:10 4:21-24 It is proved from the nature of man as a sinner - Ro 7:18 8:7-9 1Co 2:14 Eph 2:1 Also from the nature of heaven - Isa 35:8 52:1 Mt 5:8 13:41 Heb 12:14 Re 21:27
The restoration of holiness is the grand end of the whole plan of salvation - Ro 8:28, 29 Eph 1:4 5:5, 26, 27 .11 The Reason for Regeneration Mankind did not need a new system of rehabilitation or reformation to deal with their sinful ways and the consequences of death. Additional rules and regulations to try to effect behavioral modification will not suffice. No amount of monies spent on public education in order to enhance and expand man's intellectual capabilities will ever solve man's spiritual problem. Least of all, will the man-made rituals, requirements and reforms of religion serve as any benefit for the resolution of man's problem, and the restoration of intended functionality. Man's need is to be "brought into being again" spiritually. Perhaps we could say that man needs to be "regenesized" in a similar manner as he was "genesized" in Genesis 2:7 when God breathed into man the Spirit of his own life and caused him to be spiritually alive by the presence of the divine life within the spirit of man. In his natural state due to the fall of man in sin, man is spiritually dead and needs to be spiritually revived. Various metaphors are suggested by the regeneration concept of "bringing into being again." The term genesis has long been associated with creation, and the spiritual regeneration of man by the Spirit of Christ is illustrated as constituting the Christian as a "new creation" (II Cor. 5:17; cf. Gal. 6:15). Resurrection also pictures the concept of "bringing into being again," especially in portraying life out of death, and thus is used as a figure of regeneration when Christians are referred to as being "raised to newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). The predominant figure of regeneration is that of birth, of being "born again" with spiritual life. The Greek words associated with genesis are used over one hundred times in the New Testament in reference to birth, and this becomes the primary metaphor to explain regeneration. Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be "born from above" (John 3: 3, 7), to be "born of the Spirit" (John 3:5). Recent misuse of the terms "rebirth" or "born again" in some religious circles has caused the terms to be despised and caricatured by many today, but the image is indeed Biblical. The Resurrection Pre-requisite of Regeneration The "finished work" (John 19:30) of Jesus Christ entails not only the objective remedial concepts of His work on the cross, but also the subjective restorative concepts of His work that derive from His resurrection, ascension and Pentecostal outpouring. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ alone would not have effected regeneration for all mankind. At the cross the remedial features were enacted when Jesus voluntarily and vicariously took the death consequences of man's sin upon Himself, but it was in the
resurrection that life "came into being again" out of death, in order that such divine life could be made available to restore mankind. The negative death consequences for sin were taken care of at the cross, but the positive consequences of God's life made available to man were affected in the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical theology must always beware of focusing only on the cross of Christ without giving due emphasis to the resurrection. Christian theology was from its commencement a "resurrection theology." Peter's first sermon was that "God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death" (Acts 2:24). Paul's proclamation was that "God had fulfilled His promises...in that He raised up Jesus" (Acts 13:33). The resurrection of Jesus was the pre-requisite for regeneration. Using the illustration of a grain of wheat, Jesus explained that it had to die and come to life in order to bear much fruit (John 12:24). He was referring to His own death and resurrection, which would serve as the fruitful prototype of "many brethren" (Rom. 8:29) experiencing life out of death spiritually. "As Christ was raised from the dead...so we too might walk in newness of life...united in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:4,5). Christians are "raised up with Christ" (Col. 2:12; 3:14), passing "out of death into life" (John 5:24; I John 3:14). Thus it is that Peter can declare that "God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3), evidencing the pre-requisite of the historical resurrection of Jesus, with which we identify spiritually in regeneration. Jesus explained to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies" (John 11:25). The life of the risen Lord Jesus, the resurrection-life of Jesus, becomes the basis of spiritual life in the Christian. The Reality of Regeneration The essential reality of that which is "brought into being again" within the individual who receives Jesus Christ is not just a subjective experience of a "heart on fire" or a "peace within." Neither is it merely a judicial reality of "positional" right standing with God, being duly recorded as "justified" in the heavenly bookkeeping ledgers. Regeneration is not the receipt of a travel voucher, an eventual one-way ticket to heaven with the guarantee that one will not go to hell. The reality of regeneration is that the divine life of God is "brought into being again" within the spirit of the individual who receives Jesus Christ. The primary objective of Christianity is not how to get a man out of hell and into heaven, but to allow the life of God to be imputed back into man that he might be functionally operative to the glory of God both on earth and in heaven. There is only one way to experience life. One cannot buy their way into life. Neither can one work their way into life. Being "made safe" from diabolic dysfunction in order to function as God intended, never comes "on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness" (Titus 3:5), but only by regeneration. The only way to receive life is to be born into it, which evidences again the metaphor of "birth" as an illustration of regeneration. Being "born again" is not "turning over a new leaf" of religious dedication and commitment. It is not a renaissance of applied morality. It is the re-introduction of the divine life of Jesus Christ into the spirit of the individual who is receptive to such. Regeneration expresses the "vital concept" of Christ's "finished work." It is the restoration of the "personal resource of life," being the presence of the living God, into the spiritual function capacity of man. Jesus said, "I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He identified this life which can be invested in us as the very essence of His own being, saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (I John 5:12). Those who have been "made alive together with Christ" (Eph. 2:5), experience "Christ as their life" (Col. 3:4). It is a derived life that can never be separated from the being of Jesus Christ. As such it cannot be static. His life can never be viewed as a commodity to be possessed, an "eternal life package" which has value after our physical death. The reality of regeneration is that we receive the vital dynamic of the life of the risen Lord Jesus that is to have contemporary incarnation in the behavior of the Christian.
The Revelation of Regeneration "The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; ...he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (I Cor. 2:14). The fallen race of mankind does not naturally recognize their need for spiritual regeneration. "The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (II Cor. 4:4). This is why Nicodemus, a religious "ruler of the Jews" (John 3:1), could not comprehend what Jesus was telling him when He explained that "You must be born again" (John 3:7); and "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Nicodemus was thoroughly religious, having attempted to keep all the Jewish moral regulations meticulously as a Pharisee (John 3:1), but he did not understand the spiritual implications of being "born again" and re-lifted with the indwelling presence of God's life. His spiritual ignorance was evidenced when he responded to Jesus, thinking only in terms of physical obstetrics, asking, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" (John 3:4). Jesus explained to Nicodemus quite simply that "unless one is born of water (physical birth) and the Spirit (spiritual birth), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (wherein Christ reigns as Lord, as we reign in life through Him)" (John 3:5). Whether Nicodemus ever understood and was regenerated cannot be ascertained definitively, but he was sympathetic to Jesus and brought burial spices for the body of Jesus at His death (John 19:39). In order to cause man to recognize the need for spiritual regeneration, the Spirit of God engages in the revelatory solicitation whereby Jesus "draws men to Himself" (John 12:32). It is not just a matter of religious education and catechism whereby one can intellectually perceive the need for such a spiritual exchange, but the revelation of such need and the availability of the provision of Jesus Christ, must be recognized in the enlightening and illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Revelation is "caught," not "taught." God, in Christ, and by His Holy Spirit, solicits our response, working providentially even in the arrangement of circumstances whereby we are caused to hear the gospel. He convinces and convicts our mind and emotion "concerning sin, and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:7-11), thereby revealing our spiritual need and the provision for such need in Jesus Christ. The Receipt of Regeneration Regeneration becomes personally effectual for an individual when he is willing to receive the life of Jesus Christ in him by a freely chosen response of faith. "Belief" and "faith" are two English words which are both used to translate the Greek word pistis. Differentiation must be made, however, between a "belief" that is but mental assent to historical accuracy and theological orthodoxy, and the "faith" that is receptive to the spiritual life of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not just an epistemological belief-system of doctrinal data, despite the fact that fundamentalist religious perversions often project it to be such. One does not "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31), in the same manner as one might believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. Believing the veracity of the circumstantial historical data, one might assent and concur that George Washington was the first president of the U.S.A. over two hundred years ago. In like manner, one might believe that Jesus Christ lived almost two thousand years ago, having been born in Bethlehem, and having been crucified at Golgotha. In addition, a person might affirm the theological interpretations of Jesus' incarnation and redemptive death, but it might remain but a rationalistic mental assent to evidentiary data. Such is not the faith required for the receipt of regeneration. Biblical faith involves spiritual receptivity. Faith is our receptivity of God's activity; the receipt of the redemptive, regenerative, and restoration work of God in Jesus Christ. On many occasions when the New Testament uses the Greek word pistis, or the verb form pisteuo, it is followed by the Greek preposition eis, meaning "into." We might believe in, on, or about George Washington, but we do not believe "into" George Washington. On the other hand, since we are referring to spiritual reality in Jesus Christ, it can be said that we "believe into" an ontological communion with Jesus Christ as we receive His Spirit into our spirit. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe into (pisteuousin eis) His name" (John 1:12). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes into (pisteuon eis) Him should not
perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The receptivity of faith is "believing into" a connection with the very life and being of Jesus Christ. John explains that he wrote his gospel narrative "that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). The receipt of regenerative life is based upon the receptivity of faith in Jesus Christ. "Having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13). The Resource of Regeneration The receipt of spiritual life requires a source from whence that life is drawn. It is true both physically and spiritually that one cannot give birth to them. There must be a progenitor of the life that is given. Life cannot be derived from nothing or from a non-living source. The "personal resource" of spiritual life is the One who "is Spirit" (John 4:24), and who has "life in Himself" (John 5:26) as the "living God" (I Tim. 4:10). When Nicodemus questioned, "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus explained that we must be "born from above," from the spiritual life of God. John writes that those who receive Jesus and become children of God are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). The personal resource of life from which we receive spiritual life is God Himself. God is the progenitor of the life that we receive in regeneration. It is also true physically and spiritually that "like begets like" in the process of the birthing of life. Since in regeneration we are "born of God" (John 1:13) and "born of the Spirit" (John 3:5,6), the life that we receive is divine life. The Christian becomes a "partaker of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4). This does not mean that we thus have divine life inherently as God does (John 5:26), but only that we have the derived life of God within the man. The agency of the implantation of this divine spiritual life is the Holy Spirit, using the means of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (I Peter 1:23). Jesus said that "It is the Spirit who gives life" (John 6:63), which is echoed by Paul's explanation that "the Spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:6). The Region of Regeneration Where is it within the constituted levels of functionality that man needs to be renewed to life? The region where fallen man is dead is within the life-function level of his spirit. Every individual in the human race is born spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1,5). Such death does not imply the nonfunctionality of spirit, but spiritual identification with "the one having the power of death, that is the devil" (Heb. 2:14), the "personal resource of death." The need of man, therefore, is to "pass from death to life" (John 5:24; I John 3:14) spiritually in a spiritual exchange of identification and indwelling from one personal spiritual resource to the other, from Satan to God (Acts 26:18). The region of regeneration is the life-function level of the spirit. The prophet Ezekiel served as an instrument of God's foretelling what He was going to do through His Son Jesus Christ in the new covenant. "I will put a new spirit within you...I will put My Spirit within you" (Ezek. 36:26,27), God said. This transpires in regeneration when the "spiritual concept" of Christ's "finished work" becomes effectual, and an individual is spiritually re-lifed. Jesus clearly specified the region of regeneration when He explained to Nicodemus "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). The Reposit of Regeneration Although it has been previously indicated that the life that we receive in regeneration is the life of God, i.e. the life of Jesus Christ, it is important to emphasize that the entire life of God in His triune form is put
within us and comes to dwell and live within us. The life of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit becomes the essence of our spiritual life. This is the ontological feature of the "finished work" of Jesus Christ, whereby the Being of the triune God is restored to mankind. God the Father dwells within the Christian. "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (I John 4:15). To the Corinthians Paul notes that God had indicated long ago that "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (II Cor. 6:16). Explaining the receptive relationship between God and the Christian, Jesus included the Father saying, "We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23). That Jesus Christ dwells within the Christian is abundantly documented in the New Testament Scriptures. This is the mystery of the gospel, writes Paul, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20), he writes to the Galatians. "Do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?" (II Cor. 13:5), Paul asks the Corinthian Christians. John adds that, "We know that Christ abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us" (I John 3:24). "By this we know that we abide in Christ and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit" (I John 4:13). The New Testament also amply posits the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul asks the Corinthians, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?" (I Cor. 6:19). God "jealously desires the Spirit that He has made to dwell in us" (James 4:5). "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you" (II Tim. 1:14). The ontological reposit of regeneration is the divine being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the restoration of the "breath of lives" (Gen. 2:7) that God breathed into man in the garden. The Renewal of Regeneration To "bring into being again" by "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5), allows for a renewal of the individual that is variously described throughout the New Testament. The Christian is participating in a "new covenant" (Heb. 8: 8, 13), a "better covenant" (Heb. 7:22), a superior arrangement wherein God's "Laws are written in our minds and upon our hearts" (Heb 8:10; 10:16), for the presence of His being and character dwell within our spirit. It is "a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the flesh of Jesus Christ" (Heb. 10:20), and His willingness to become humanity in order to take our death consequences and give us His life. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (II Cor. 5:17). The metaphor of "new creation" is suggested by the Greek word genesis, from which the English word "regeneration" is derived. Man is "re-genesized," that is, "brought into being again" in accord with God's created intent to have His life dwelling within and functioning through humanity. The real issues of Christianity are not the externalities, Paul notes, "but a new creation" (Gal. 6:15) of humanity. The newness of humanity is affected by the "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4) that the Christian shares in identification with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of His resurrection-life. By receptivity of Jesus Christ the individual becomes a "new man" (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), "created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:24). The believer has a new spiritual identity as a Christone, a Christian.
"All things have become new" (II Cor. 5:17) for the Christian. This must be understood in reference to spiritual realities, for the patterns of fleshly behavior in the function-level of the soul are still present in recurrent conflict with the new impulses of the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). The Relationship of Regeneration Receiving the life of God in spiritual regeneration, the Christian has a "personal relationship" with God through the "one mediator, Jesus Christ" (I Tim. 2:5). We are "reconciled to God" (Rom. 5:10; II Cor. 5:19,20; Col. 1:20) in a spiritual oneness. "The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (I Cor. 6:17). Regeneration also creates a spiritual relationship with every other individual who has likewise received Jesus Christ. God does not intend that we become "lone ranger" Christians, isolated in individualism. Using the metaphor of birth again, it might be noted that an individual is always born into a family. The Church of Jesus Christ is the "family of God" wherein we are to relate to one another, love one another, and minister to one another. "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together,...but encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:24,25). Within such interactive Christian fellowship the Christian individual will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). The Retention of Regeneration The question of the permanency of this regenerative placement of God's life in man's spirit has long been debated. The misunderstandings often result from man's propensity to reason in strict logical categories that fail to take into account the dynamic ontological reality of the presence of God. Our security is not based on a logical positivism that results from certain receptive actions of man in a rigid cause and effect procedure. Instead, our security is based on the continued faithfulness of God (I Cor. 1:9), who has no desire to renege on His express purpose to manifest His life in man. The character of God is indeed an eternal security, as He is allowed to function dynamically within mankind. Christians can have the subjective assurance that God does indeed dwell in them. John wrote to Christians, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5:13). Paul noted that "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom. 8:16). The Release of Regeneration Receiving the Spirit of life into our spirit in regeneration is not an end in itself. The objective is not to "store up" the Holy Spirit in the spirit of a Christian as a "deposit" that will later be employed or "cashed in." Some Christians in their evangelistic zeal have encouraged regeneration, but never proceeded to explain what the Spirit was to do when He came to dwell in the Christian. There are Christians who have sat in their pews every Sunday for many years, and heard sermon after sermon on "What it means to be 'Born Again'," but have never been taught concerning the Spirit's continued activity. This phenomena is also oftentimes a result of an eschatological futurism that projects all the benefits of Jesus Christ into the heavenly future and has no expectation for the effectiveness of His life in the world today. It is tragic that many Christians conceive of the Christian life as "the past is forgiven; the future is assured; but the present is the pits!" Regeneration is a crisis with a view to a process. At a particular point in time the Spirit of Christ takes up residence in the spirit of an individual who receives Him by faith. "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (Rom. 8:9). The Spirit of Christ in the spirit of the Christian is not "on hold" until we get to heaven. God's intent is that the life of Jesus Christ be released into behavioral expression. This is the "functional concept" of His "finished work." The derivation of spiritual condition
must lead to the derivation of behavioral expression. Regeneration must extend into sanctification. The writer to the Hebrews admonishes, "Let us press on to maturity" (Heb. 6:1). When the "personal resource" of Christ's life is received into the spirit of man at regeneration, the "prevailing ramifications" of that life are to become behaviorally operative expressing the character of God, and allowing for a "perpetual representation" of ontological union of life in Jesus Christ. To the Galatians, Paul wrote, "It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20). To the Corinthians, he explained that the objective was that "the life of Jesus might be manifested in our body...in our mortal flesh" (II Cor. 4:10,11). The life of Jesus Christ must be released in order to be manifested in the Christian's behavior, to be lived out to the glory of God. The Results of Regeneration The apostle John in his typical "black and white" thinking explains particular behavioral manifestations that should be indicative of one who has been regenerated and received the divine life within: "You know that every one who practices righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29). Those in whom the "Righteous One" (Acts 3:4; 7:42; 22:14) dwells and lives will derive His righteous character in righteous behavior. There is no other way to manifest righteousness except as derived from Christ, for all other feeble attempts at such are as a "filthy rag" (Isa. 64:6) and to be "counted as rubbish" (Phil. 3:8). The character of righteousness in our behavior will be a result of the regeneration whereby "Jesus Christ, the Righteous" (I John 2:1) comes to live in us and manifest His life through us. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" (I John 3:14). "God is love" (I John 4:8, 16), and when He comes to dwell in us at regeneration, the manifestations of His loving character, and the "fruit of the Spirit which is love..." (Gal. 5:22, 23), should be expressed behaviorally. "The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom. 5:5). "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (I John 3:9). This verse has spawned numerous perfectionist theses, but the meaning seems to be that the Perfect One, Jesus Christ, comes to live in the Christian at regeneration. As the "Sinless One" (II Cor. 5:21; I Peter 2:22), He does not sin, nor tempt us to sin (James 1:13). An individual in whom Christ dwells should desire that the character of Christ be derivatively expressed in his behavior, repudiating the sinful expressions that are contrary to His character. Realism forces us to remember that "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; ...and who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (I John 5:4,5). Jesus is the Over comer who has "overcome the world" (John 16:33). When He comes to live in us at regeneration, He is the sufficient spiritual provision for the overcoming of Satan's world-system with all its evil influences and sin. "Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world" (I John 4:4). "The Lamb will overcome, because He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Rev. 17:14). "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him" (I John 5:18). Again, the Sinless One, Jesus Christ, who has come to live in us at regeneration, does not sin or prompt us to sin. He also "protects us from the evil one" (II Thess. 3:3) by "the power of God" (I Peter 1:5), "not allowing us to be tempted beyond what we are able" (I Cor. 10:13). Christians are thus empowered by the indwelling Christ for the avoidance of temptation as "He comes to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:18). 12
4. Ensembles Translatability is the source of the success of Christianity across cultures. Christianity is one of the ancient religions of India (as the late Prime Minister Nehru pointed out). Christianity in India therefore is not a foreign import (although the Thomas-figure might have been an outsider). Christianity was firmly planted in Indian soil long before it arrived in Northern Europe.9 …According to the lot, therefore, India fell unto Judas Thomas, which is also the twin: but he would not go, saying that by reason of the weakness of the flesh he could not travel, and 'I am a Hebrew man; how can I go amongst the Indians and preach the truth?' And as he thus reasoned and spake, the Saviour appeared unto him by night and saith to him: Fear not, Thomas, go thou unto India and preach the word there, for my grace is with thee. But he would not obey, saying: Whither thou wouldest send me; send me, but elsewhere, for unto the Indians I will not go. …And on the day following the apostle arose early, and having prayed and besought the Lord he said: I will go whither thou wilt, Lord Jesus: thy will be done. And he departed unto Abbanes the merchant (from India to whom he had been sold as a slave for not hearkening), taking with him nothing at all save only his price. …When the apostle had said these things, King Misdaeus considered how he should put him to death; for he was afraid because of the much people that were subject unto him, for many also of the nobles and of them that were in authority believed on him. He took him therefore and went forth out of the city; and armed soldiers also went with him. And the people supposed that the king desired to learn somewhat of him, and they stood still and gave heed. And when they had walked one mile, he delivered him unto four soldiers and an officers, and commanded them to take him into the mountain (Presently Saint Thomas Mount, Butt Road, Chennai, India) and there pierce him with spears and put an end to him, and return again to the city. And saying thus unto the soldiers, he himself also returned unto the city. …And the four came and pierced him with their spears, and he fell down and died. (He was buried on Marina Beach-Saint Thomas Basilica, Chennai, India) Acts of Apostle Thomas 1:1, 3, 164, 168 It is difficult to point out an official date for Christianity’s arrival on the Indian subcontinent. The traditional view is that the Apostle Thomas first brought Christian teaching to the land in the first century (52 AD). No records survive that would put the matter to rest, but there is no doubt that many Indians attest to the veracity of the story. In Kerala and around Chennai, Tamil Nadu, there are many monuments, relics, and churches that testify to the popular belief of Thomas’ presence. Whether true or not, the story does demonstrate an historic fact: Christianity has had a presence in South India since early times.5 The earliest example of indigenous Christianity in India is found in the St. Thomas Christians of Malabar. Much has been written about the Thomas Christians. More research is needed. Since the Thomas Christians became “Syrianized” the picture is not entirely clear. The connection between the Church in India and Syrian-Persian Christianity began in the third or fourth century. Gradually the former became dependent on the latter so that "everything ecclesiastical in India was practically EastSyrian." While this preserved a strong Christian tradition, it "prevented the Church of India from developing an Indian Christian culture...." The arrival of the Portuguese appears to have obliterated the earlier Malayalam traditions leaving only the Syriac forms. Early missionaries in India included scholars who made important contributions to the understanding of Indian cultures. The brilliant but controversial Jesuit scholar, Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), for example, whose radical cultural adaptations were viewed as a threat by the Portuguese ecclesiastical authorities, adapted his life-style to that of the people and appropriated various "harmless" customs and ceremonies. De Nobili's approach was through the traditions of Hinduism. While strictly Hindu religious practices were removed, other traditional practices were Christianized. Controversies aside, it is to his credit that de Nobili "Tamilized" the gospel.
De Nobili's greatest contribution was in his scholarship. His accurate knowledge of the people, fluency in speech and writing, opened an approach to the Tamil people the fruits of which still continue. De Nobili gave a terminology for Christian theology, a vehicle for conveying Christian ideas. By comparison today's proposals for Indianization of liturgy and theology somehow fall short. The first Protestant missionary, Bartolomeo Ziegenbalg (1682-1719), likewise was a devoted scholar who translated the New Testament and part of the Old into Tamil, wrote other books, and compiled a Tamil-German dictionary among other works. Ziegenbalg and the early German missionaries adapted their pietist Halle educational tradition to the formation of Christian faith and character in Tamil Nadu. William Carey (1762-1834) and the Baptist missionaries of the Serampore Mission continued the scholarly tradition. The translation, printing and dissemination of Scriptures were their first priority. Carey himself translated the entire Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit and Marathi. Within thirty years parts of the Bible were printed in 37 Indian languages! The missionaries also did a careful study of Hinduism and translated some of the Hindu classics into English and into Bengali. Customs and practices that the missionaries observed were described in detail and published by William Ward (1769-1823). India has seen several attempted cultural incarnations. One such was that of the flamboyant Keshub Chunder Sen (1838-1884), a 19th century attempt to Indianize the gospel. Jesus Christ whom he sought to follow as an Indian captivated Sen. His was a spontaneous response to the gospel from within Hindu society expressed in Indian culture and symbol. He never identified with traditional institutional Christianity. For this reason Christian writers regard him a Hindu or a heretic. His method was borrowed from Hindu tradition. Sen acknowledged Christ as Lord but did not opt for the Christian religion. Hindu symbols sometimes were combined with Christian concepts. Keshub Chunder Sen wanted to see India come to Christ. He chided Christian missionaries for doing other things instead of preaching Christ. They should stop presenting Christ as an Englishman because the picture of a foreign Christianity is repugnant. He criticized nominal European Christians whose pseudo-Christianity hinders the progress of the spirit of Christianity in India.Sen's concern, and the purpose behind the Samaj and his Church of the New Dispensation, was to disseminate Christian ideals and ideas. Had he succeeded, it is interesting to speculate whether the message of Christ might have penetrated the indifferent elite of Hindu society. His was an early attempt to contextualize the Christian message. Keshub Chunder Sen has been much written about, greatly misunderstood. His was probably the earliest known attempt at an authentic Indian “contextual” response during the Protestant missionary era. An ardent devotee of Christ, Sen’s devotion was expressed in classical Indian forms and categories not acceptable to the European missionaries of that time. Keshub was an active leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a Hinduistic new religious movement founded by India's great reformer, Ram Mohan Roy. Roy’s controversy with the Serampore Baptists over points of theology had resulted in formation of the Brahmo Samaj as well as of an Indian Unitarian Church. In Maharashtra the Brahmin poet convert, Narayan Vaman Tilak (1862-1919), left a distinctive mark on the Church. Initially a secret follower of Christ, Tilak eventually publicized his new faith, and then faced the question of baptism which was regarded as an anti-social and uncivil act of renouncing one's own community for another. Tilak experienced the disaster and disgrace associated with his baptism, but did not renounce his Hindu heritage! He retained it, and did not separate from his Hindu brethren. The great poet-saint of Maharashtra formed much of his devotional life. He saw his cultural heritage as the best preparation for Christian conversion: "I came to the feet of Christ over the bridge of Tukaram." Through Tilak the singing of bhajans and reciting of kirtans became part of Christian worship. Tilak adapted the distinctive Marathi kirtan (song-recitation performance) for Christian communication. Borrowed from Hindu bhakti, this folk media together with Tilak's poetry has enriched the life of the Marathi Church. In the latter part of his life, Tilak was searching for an indigenous expression of Christian faith more attractive to the Hindu society. Reflecting his own experience, Tilak advocated bhakti as a way to Christ. Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) frequently is cited as an example of Indian Christian indignity. His conversion, wardrobe, theology, preaching and lifestyle as a wandering sadhu all carry the marks of an authentic Indian spirituality. Certainly he viewed Christian life and faith from an Eastern perspective.
Sundar Singh left behind no institutional church bearing his mark. However in South India today a large number of independent sanyasi preachers follow his pattern and attract a large following. The persistence of religions “little tradition” is largely ignored, but is prominent in the Independent Church Movement in Madras and Tamil Nadu. New Christian movements such as the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship claim a heritage received from Sadhu Sundar Singh. Less well-known, but important as an advocate of authentic enculturation, was the Bengali convert, Rajendra Chandra Das (1887-1976), who served for 47 years as an evangelist among the Hindus of Varanasi. Styled an "Evangelical Prophet for Contextual Christianity,” Das was highly critical of Western forms of Christianity that he saw as distortions of the gospel. The so-called "Indianization" of the Church "has only installed black and brown bureaucrats and authoritarians in the exact place of missionaries." Das advocated ashrams as an Indian ideal and saw the Christian ashram movement as an antidote to the evils of Westernized theological education and patterns of ministry. R.C. Das, Keshub Chundar Sen, Sundar Singh and Narayan Vaman Tilak are among those who sought an authentic Indian Christianity. There were others. 9 Pandita Ramabai (1858 - 1920) : In appreciation of the work of Pandita Ramabai for the advancement of Indian women, the Government of India approved the issuance of a commemorative stamp of Pandita Ramabai in 1989 and later named her Woman of the Millennium. The following is taken from the official brochure of the stamp from the Department of Post India. Pandita Ramabai, the youngest daughter of Anant Shastri, was a social reformer, a champion for the emancipation of women, a pioneer in education. Left totally alone by the time she was 23, Ramabai acquired a great reputation as a Sanskrit scholar. Deeply impressed by her prowess, the Sanskrit scholars of Calcutta University conferred on her the titles of "Saraswati" and "Pandita". She rebelled against the caste system and married a shudra advocate, but was widowed at 23, having a baby girl. In 1882, she established the Arya Mahila Samaj for the cause of women's education in Pune and different parts of Western India. This led to the formation of the Sharada Sadan in 1889 - which school completes a hundred years this year - a school which blossomed into an umbrella organization called Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission, 40 miles outside Pune. In 1896, during a sever famine Ramabai toured the villages of Maharashtra with a caravan of bullock carts and rescued thousands of outcast children, child widows, orphans, and other destitute women and brought them to the shelter of Mukti and Sharada Sadan. A learned woman knowing seven languages, she also translated the Bible into her mother tongue - Marathi - from the original Hebrew and Greek. Her work continues today, a memorial to her life and path. There were some of the old ideas stamped on my brain; for instance, I thought that repentance of sin and the determination to give it up was what was necessary for forgiveness of sin: that the rite of baptism was the means of regeneration; that my sins were truly washed away, when I was baptized in the name of Christ. These and such other ideas, which are akin to Hindu mode of religious thought, stuck to me. For some years after my baptism, I was comparatively happy to think that I had found a religion that gave its privileges equally to men and women; there was no distinction of caste, color, or sex made in it. All this was very beautiful, no doubt. But I had failed to understand that we are of "God in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption." I Cor. 1:30. I had failed to see the need of placing my implicit faith in Christ and His atonement in order to become a child of God by being born again of the Holy Spirit and justified by faith in the Son of God. My thoughts
were not very dear on this and other points. I was desperate. I realized that I was not prepared to meet God, that sin had dominion over me, and I was not altogether led by the Spirit of God and had not therefore received the Spirit of adoption and had no witness of the Spirit that I was a child of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage, again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Romans 8:14-16 What was to be done? My thoughts could not, and did not help me. I had at last come to an end of myself and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Savior; and asked Him to be merciful to me, and to become my Righteousness and Redemption, and to take away all my sin. Only those, who have been convicted of sin and have seen themselves as God sees them under similar circumstances, can understand what one feels when a great and unbearable burden is rolled away from one's heart. I shall not attempt to describe how and what I felt at the time when I made an unconditional surrender and knew I was accepted to be a branch of the True Vine, a child of God by adoption in Christ Jesus my Savior. Although it is impossible for me to tell all that God has done for me, I must yet praise Him and thank Him for His loving-kindness to me, the greatest of sinners. The Lord, first of all, showed me the sinfulness of sin and the awful danger I was in, of everlasting hellfire and the great love of God with which He "So loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." And He gave this Son to be the propitiation for my sin: for does not the inspired Apostle say, "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and He is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." I John 2:1.2. The Bible says that God does not wait for me to merit His love but heaps it upon me without my deserving it. It says also that there is neither male nor female in Christ. "The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare I say at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Romans 3: 22-26. I do not know if anyone of my readers has ever had the experience of being shut up in a room where there was nothing but thick darkness and then groping in it to find something of which he or she was in dire need. I can think of no one but the blind man, whose story is given in St. John chapter nine. He was born blind and remained so for forty years of his life; and then suddenly he found the Mighty One, Who could give him eyesight. Who could have described his joy at seeing the daylight, when there had not been a particle of hope of his ever seeing it? Even the inspired evangelist has not attempted to do it. I can give only a faint idea of what I felt when my mental eyes were opened, and when I, who was" sitting in darkness saw Great Light," and when I felt sure that to me, who but a few moments ago" sat in the region and shadow of death, Light had sprung up." I was very like the man who was told, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk... And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into Pandita Ramabai the temple, walking and leaping and praising God."13 P. Y. Luke and John B. Carman, who conducted research on the relationship between village Christians and the Hindu culture on behalf of the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, had the opportunity of observing some of the ways religious paradigms occurred. During their stay in Kondapuran (Andhra Pradesh) they noted that a number of Hindus from the Sudra castes were attending worship services of that congregation regularly. They had become interested in Christianity after having attended the camp services conducted by an itinerant healer, Sadhu Joseph. Sadhu Joseph was born into a family of Mala Christians but grew up largely ignorant of Christian beliefs and practices. As a young man he contracted leprosy but was miraculously cured after having a vision that empowered him to heal others. He left his home and went out into the jungle for prayer, meditation and Bible reading. Although previously illiterate he now found himself able to read the Bible. Afterwards he traveled from place to place, erecting his tent on the outskirts of villages and healing people in the name of Jesus Christ. His
wife joined him in his ministry, but they did not cohabit. Sadhu Joseph ate no solid food but lived on milk and orange juice. He grew his hair long and wore a cassock with a silver cross. In his preaching, Sadhu Joseph taught almost exclusively from the Gospels, emphasizing especially the healing miracles of Jesus. While he would speak about repentance in general terms, he would not make it a condition for healing. Without insisting they do so exclusively, he urged the people to worship Jesus. Mention was not made of other religions at all. Sadhu Joseph would cooperate closely with the established church. He made no attempt to administer communion but would invite the local pastor to celebrate it. He himself would receive communion from the pastor. On special request, with the pastor's approval, he would occasionally baptize people. Caste Hindus often attended Sadhu Joseph's services, sitting together with the outcastes during the worship. Rarely however they actually baptized, for this represented a definite break of caste. Usually they returned to their villages reciting the songs learned at these services, and sometimes regarded themselves as devotees to Jesus Christ in gratitude for their healing. While virulently opposed by the Arya Samajists, most caste Hindus seem to accept Sadhu Joseph in the traditional mode of a holy man in India whose renunciation of the world has rendered his caste status irrelevant. Healing and dreams seem to be the most common ways in which Christianity was mediated to Sudra converts and inquirers. Village Hindus often regarded the hearings received in the mission hospitals as evidence of the power of Christ.1 New Christian movements capture the ethos of earlier attempts in India. For the most part little is known about these movements. In recent decades a movement around the late Subba Rao (1912-1981) attracted attention of writers. More recently the Bible Mission of Fr. Devadas was the subject of an in-depth study The Bakht Singh movement has been described in brief, inspirational accounts and in a recent definitive biography of Bakht Singh. Here and there mention is made of other independent movements in South India.9
… Please note that this was the first time I was attending a Christian service. I had never read the Bible before nor had anyone spoken to me about salvation. When I knelt down I felt a great change coming over me. My whole body was trembling. I could feel divine power entering into me and lifting me up. The first change that I noticed in me was that a great joy was flooding my soul. The second change was that I was repeating the name of Jesus; I began to say, “Oh, Lord Jesus, blessed be the name, blessed is Thy name.” The name Jesus became very sweet to me. Before, I used to despise the very name, and during discussions and conversations I had made fun of it. Another change I found was that I felt one with Europeans. During my stay in London I never felt their equal, Sometimes I was their superior, sometimes their inferior, when I used to talk to the English people I felt superior. I used to say that I belonged to an ancient country having an ancient culture; but when I used to talk to Indians I felt inferior saying that we did not know how to cat or dress properly. But this was the first time I was feeling quite their equal. In the month of December I came to the city of Winnipeg.
… On the 14 of December, 1929, I said to a friend of mine, “Could you lend me a Bible?” He looked very much surprised and said, “You, a Hindu and an Indian, want to read the Bible? I have heard that Hindus do not like the Bible.” I said, “You are right. These very hands have torn up a Bible. These very lips have blasphemed against Christ. But for the last eighteen months I have a great love for the Lord Jesus. I love His very Name, which sounds so sweet to me. But I do not know yet anything about His life and teaching.” My friend put his hand into his pocket and gave me his pocket New Testament. From that day till now his Testament has been with me. This was my first pocket Testament. I brought it to my room and began to read from the Gospel of St. Matthew. I kept on reading till three in the morning as I became engrossed in the Word of God. In the morning I found the whole ground covered with snow, and I remained all day in bed, just to read.
The second day I was just reading the Gospel of St. John, 3 chapter, when I came to the 3 verse. I stopped at the first part of the verse. The words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you” convicted me. Just as I read these words my heart began to beat faster. I felt someone was standing beside me and saying again and again, “Verily, Verily I say unto you.” I used to say, “The Bible belongs to the West,” but the voice
said, “Verily, verily I say unto you”. I have never felt so much ashamed as I felt then, because all the blasphemous words I had uttered against Christ came before me. All my sins of school and college days came before me. I learned for the first time that I was the greatest sinner, and I discovered that my heart was wicked and filthy. My petty jealousies against my friends, my enemies, my wickedness were all clear before me. My parents thought that I was a good boy, my friends regarded me as a good friend, and the world considered me a decent member of society, but only I knew my real state. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was saying, “Oh! Lord, forgive me. Truly I am a great sinner.” For a time I felt that there was no hope for me, a great sinner. As I was crying again the Voice said, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood shed for the remission of your sins.” So I knew that the blood of Jesus only could wash away my sins. I did not know how, but knew that the blood of Jesus only could save me. I could not explain the fact, but joy and peace came to my soul; I had the assurance that all my sins were washed away; I knew that the Lord Jesus was reigning in my heart. I just kept on praising Him. … We often wonder how we can realize the constant presence of God, how we can find out the perfect will of God and how we can become a means of the salvation of loved ones, friends, neighbors and enemies. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37). The Lord Jesus Christ is assuring us in those words that He will welcome anyone who wants to know Him and have Him and to be possessed by Him. So those of you, who are heavy laden with sin and worldly care, are being invited at this time to come unto Him without wavering. May I tell you that from the very minute you make an effort to come to the Lord Jesus Christ all the powers of darkness will begin to work in your heart and create doubts, fears and misgivings. But we get assurance from the same Lord who say, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Matt, 28:18). We also read in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek Me and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Then the Lord says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth, on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). Your part is to kneel and believe on Him, and His part is to give you the gift of eternal life, which is being offered to us freely. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). So, my reader friend, if the Holy Spirit of your sins and sinful nature is convicting you, do not be afraid of all the doubts and fears which are being put into your mind by the Enemy. Accept the Lord Jesus in your heart and He will come into you, the hope of glory. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The coming in and the living of the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts is called the experience of the New Birth. It is a simple experience of accepting the living Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts, as the Lord Jesus says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come into him and will sup with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). The Lord Jesus will never force His way into our hearts. If you hear His voice please harden not your heart. The very minute you read this book is the time of your salvation. “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). If you do not obey His voice now your heart will become harder and harder and the light rejected will become darkness. The Spirit of God will not always strive with man. “And the Lord said My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Gen. 6:3). The spirit of God has been striving with you, bringing before you all your sins and the stink of your sinful nature. Remember one day your very bones will be to rot with the stink of sin, and the sin that you are covering by garbs of culture, civilization, manners, customs, smiles, and smooth words will be uncovered one day. “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be made known” (Luke 12:2). People throughout the world and throughout the ages have been trying to cover sin. The leper may succeed in covering his spot of leprosy in its initial stage, but one day the leprosy will appear upon the fingers and toes and other parts of the body. In the same manner, our sins are brought to light by the searching eyes of God. May I beg you to kneel down and say these words before the Lord, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me and Bakht Singh lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). 14
Gulshan Esther from Pakistan has a miraculous testimony. Born in a wealthy Shia Muslim family, she was smitten with typhoid - then crippled by polio as a teenager. For many years, Esther was dependent upon servants for her most basic needs. The best doctors in Pakistan and London examined her. Her father took her on a hajj to Medina and Mecca didn’t avail. Studying the Koran, she learned a woman called Miriam, gave birth to a Healer called Jesus. So for three years she prayed in the Name of this Healer. Eventually Jesus answered her prayer, appeared in a vision accompanied by the Shekinah, and commanded her to arise and walk. When she tried to obey, the flesh manifested on her left side and for the first time in many years she was able to stand and walk. She gave her life to Lord Jesus Christ, and has since suffered great persecution from family and friends for His Name. Her parents had both died by this time, and one of her kinsman tried for thirty minutes to shoot her. And as she took her hands from over her eyes, she saw the hand of Jesus covering the barrel of his pistol. She saw the Lord raise her sister from the dead. She has written two books, "The Torn Veil" and "Beyond the Veil" (available @ http://www.ombooks.org). For the past twenty five years, Sister Esther's traveled to different countries witnessing what Jesus has done in her life.15 From the beginning Rabi R. Maharaj noticed that none of the ‘gods’ he encountered were kind, loving or gentle. Jesus, the true God, is gentle and humble in heart. He is full of compassion, especially when we painfully recognize our sins and weaknesses. He says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ And because He is the truth, He tells you the truth about yourself. The truth can hurt, but it sets you free. After all the delusions, after all the strain of climbing to ever new heights of self-exaltation, this comes as sheer relief. He also dispels the myth of reincarnation. He clearly says what will happen after death, so that you don’t need to agonize about what form your reincarnations will take in thousands of future lives and about whether you will ever succeed in reaching a higher state. He shows you the only path that will lead you to the place where deep down inside you long to be. What esoteric teachings promise is a non-existent fantasy world. It seems like heaven on earth but it is demonic. There can be no true liberation unless we recognize our sins, repent of them and receive forgiveness. With the Eastern deities there is no forgiveness. The penalty has to be paid for every offence, either in this life or in the next reincarnation. But in the sight of the living God no guilt can be dealt with that way. Rabi R. Maharaj shares his experience: ‘Quietly, choking with emotion, I began. "Lord Jesus, I’ve never studied the Bible and don’t know what it’s all about, but I’ve heard that you died for my sins at Calvary so I could be forgiven and reconciled to God. Thank you for dying for my sins and for coming into my heart and forgiving me! I want to be a new and changed person!" I wept tears of repentance for the way I had lived... I prayed for several minutes, and before I finished I knew that Jesus wasn’t just another one of several million gods... He had come to live in me. I knew he had taken my sins away. I knew he had made me a new person on the inside. Never had I been so genuinely happy. Tears of repentance turned to tears of joy. For the first time in my life I knew what real peace was.’16 Indian Christianity is incarnate in a diversity of cultures as the new movements demonstrate. Indigenous Christianity is vigorous. India in 1995 observed the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Church of North India and in 1997 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the merger that created the Church of South India. CSI and CNI are significant ecumenical milestones, rightly celebrated as creative achievements in indigenization. Simultaneously have arisen hundreds (perhaps thousands) of new entities arising spontaneously from the Indian soil. These diversified independent churches and structures should not be overlooked. Diversity not withstanding, Indian Christianity has in common with churches in other sections of the non-Western world “an indigenous, grassroots leadership; embedded ness in local cultures; and reliance on a vernacular Bible.”9
5. Stumbling Blocks and Exhortations a) Anthropological A stumbling block is something that causes us to err or to stray from the truth. Casting a stumbling block in one's way is the opposite of being our brother's keeper. The seriousness of casting a stumbling block in one's way was made very clear by Jesus when He said "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in" (Mt. 23:13). The very ones who should have been helpful were guilty of making it more difficult for God's people to do what was right. The problem of causing others to err has been evident since long before Christ. Isaiah wrote ". . .Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people" (Is. 57:14). Malachi also wrote of the problem when he chastised the messengers of the Lord who " . . . . are de parted out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7). Ezekiel wrote at length about the shepherds who were more concerned about their selfish interests than they were about feeding the flocks. In Ez 34 he wrote of those who neither cared for the diseased nor sought those who were scattered. The sheep wandered upon the face of the earth and no one searched for them. The stumbling block was acts of selfishness and neglect. From this example and other scriptures, we can understand that there are many ways we can cast stumbling blocks in the way of God's people. Perhaps the most serious stumbling block of all was committed when the Savior was put to death. This was done to discourage others From following Him. The Jewish leaders at that time were willing to go to any extreme to silence the message of salvation and to prevent anyone from following Jesus. Persecution against Christians has been tool that was used ever since Christ arose from the dead. "...And at that time there was great persecution against the church. . ." (Acts 8:1). Throughout history and continuing to our time, persecution has made it difficult for those who want to worship God. The preceding examples have been quite blatant and easy to recognize. We must also understand that there are more subtle, but very effective, stumbling blocks that cause men to fail. We must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be guilty of them. "Christian liberty" has often been used as justification to engage in activities that, at best, are borderline sin. It is true that Christ came to earth to liberate us from Satan. It is also true that we ". . . shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Ro. 8:21) and ". . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II. Cor. 3:17). The Apostle Paul wrote much about liberty. In Romans 14 he encourages us to have forbearance with a weak brother who may not have faith to do as we do. However, he also wrote of the need to "...take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak" (I Cor. 8:9) and to "...use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Ga. 5:13). Peter wrote that we must not use "...your liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (I Pe. 2:16). How, then, can we be sure we do not put a stumbling block in our brother's way? God is faithful. In His Word He pro vides instruction that helps us in this matter. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him" (I Jn. 2:10). Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12). If we love our brother as Christ loved us, there will be no sacrifice that is too great. If Christ was willing to die for us, we ought to be willing to go to great lengths to see that we do not cause another to fall.
Paul helps us understand that we should be willing not only to avoid sin to help our brother, but that we should be willing to go much further. If there is something that we see as harmless that might offend one with a weak con science "...for whom Christ died" (I Cor 8:11) we really must be willing to do what we can to be helpful to others. Clearly, Paul saw no harm in eating meat, even if it was sacrificed to idols because he knew ". . . an idol was nothing in the world, and there is none other God but one" (I Cor 8:4). Even though he knew idols were nothing and eating meat was harmless "...if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" (I Cor 8:13). Jesus Christ came into the world that we all could have the opportunity to be saved. He came to save us from eternal separation from God. He makes it clear that we are to love and help one another. He also made it clear that there are two destinations for the souls of man. One is eternal bliss with God. The other is "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mt. 5:12). If we follow the teachings of Jesus we will help one another reach our goal of eternal rest. If we do not follow His instructions we could cast a stumbling block in the path of our brother.17 Common Stumbling Blocks The Bible has much to say about individual freedom, conscience and conviction. At the same time - in the same passages - it clearly teaches not to put stumbling blocks in each other's ways (See - in context - 1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Cor. 10:23 - 11:1 and Romans 14:1 - 15:3.). Worshipping the Experience There's nothing wrong with experience. For example, we believe in and experience the joy of the Lord. We know what it means to feel His presence or touch. One way in which we all grow is by experience. However, there are some within the renewal/revival movements who appear to worship the experience. They "feel" no service is complete without them having gone forward, done "carpet time", laughed uncontrollably or otherwise "manifested". In certain forums, many message writers show an almost insatiable focus on getting "more". Not that getting more of Jesus is at all bad, but despite assurances to the contrary it frequently seems that the emphasis is on the experience rather than on Him. If you think a church service or other meeting is not good, blessed or complete unless the pastor can not finish his sermon, there are more people out cold on the floor than in their seats, or the whole congregation laughs, shakes or gyrates, it's likely you're worshipping the experience. Not Translating Personal Renewal into Personal Action Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 4:13 When you get "more" of Jesus, the results should show in your personal actions. Others will recognize you have been with Him, not because you shake, laugh, or talk about "carpet time," but because you are known for doing the things Jesus did. Here's His mission statement: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." - Luke 4:18-19 That's your job description as well, and if you're ignoring it in favor of "shaking and baking," you've missed something. In the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14) the servants were sent out to
invite the guests. Shouldn't we be inviting guests - by sharing the Gospel, releasing the captives, ministering healing to the sick and release to the oppressed? Instead, much like the Corinthians who couldn't wait to eat of the communion meal before everyone else had arrived (1 Corinthians 11:20-22), "One remains hungry, another gets drunk." Inappropriate Behavior and Language Hello! The Holy Spirit is not a bartender. Worship songs are not "drinking songs.” The purpose of the Holy Spirit's ministry is not to make your drunk in the Spirit, but does include conviction of sin, teaching us the things of Jesus, helping us communicate with God, and giving guidance. We are told to be "filled with the Spirit" - not to be drunk: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. - Ephesians 5:18 Check into the meaning of "debauchery." One of its definitions is to "corrupt by intemperance or sensuality. Sensuality: "relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite." "Devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites." "Deficient in moral, spiritual or intellectual interests, worldly especially irreligious." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) Inappropriate Sharing and Unbridled Speculation Every pastor knows that there is a constant stream of people who claim they are called to speak this or that word to the church. Frequently, such words are full of judgment and condemnation. Other times, they're overly sweet and pointless. In almost all cases, these words are also completely off-the-mark. Even within the church, there are sometimes people who - for various reasons - wish to prophecy, teach, or otherwise be recognized. Wise pastors protect their flock from such prophets who prophecy from their own imagination (Ezekiel 13:2ff). Part of the process of learning how to prophecy or speak words of knowledge as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is to know how to test "impressions," feelings and thoughts. Another part is to know whom to share them with. Is a personal word or dream meant for yourself, is it something to be shared with your small group or congregation, or should you really subject it to speculation in an international forum like the Internet? There's a lot smoke and no heat. It doesn't seem that someone who prophesies, sees angels, dream dreams, "shakes and bakes," "soaks," or "is birthing something" (don't get me started!) as particularly spiritual. That distinction is reserved for the people who serve soup, hot coffee, a listening ear and an effective prayer to the street people downtown. It's those who remember prisoners as if they were their fellow prisoners (Hebrews 13:3) who are spiritual and truly blessed. Believing that "balance" equals "compromise" Balance does not equal compromise. If it did, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 would not be in the Bible: Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. The fact that so many of those who support the various renewal and revival movements engage in namecalling towards brothers and sisters in the Lord who happen to see things differently, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks standing in the way of fruitful dialogue. Whatever you may think about those critics who approach these issues in an unbalanced, unfair, and unloving manner - you are supposed to obey the very same Scriptures they appear to take in stride:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. - 1 Peter 3:15-16 Here's how this particular stumbling block hurts not only critics of the current movements, but also you and your church: There is a prevailing attitude that searching, knowing and applying the Scriptures is something done only by Pharisees. Thus when there is inappropriate sharing - including off-beat prophecies, personal dreams and words not meant for a larger audience, or misapplication of Scripture many people who know better keep quiet. If they don't, they'll be branded as "people who hinder the Holy Spirit," "Accusers of the Brethren," and "Pharisees" with whom it's better not fellowship. Some stay and pray. Others leave and find fellowship elsewhere. What happens then is the opposite of revival: death. Renewal and Revival, on the other hand, both have to do with relationship - a renewed relationship with God. A relationship with God does not result in redefining or rejecting His Word. Rather, it results in a hunger and thirst for righteousness, a love for brothers and sisters in the Lord (no matter how they act or what their views are), and a love for the lost. But if you find yourself calling brothers names, being afraid that questioning attitudes, practices or teachings hinder the work of the Spirit, and valuing feel-good experiences above putting Scripture into practice, beware. You may one day wake up with a hang-over.18 "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." Romans14:13 In their zeal to contend for what they feel is right, some people professing to be Christians become so militant that their witness is, to say the very least, undermined. Whether the issue is Bible translations, water baptism, or the rapture, some points of contention are made into swords of division that lay waste to congregations, run roughshod over the faith of new believers, and chase unbelievers in the wrong direction. Of course we agree that there are doctrinal issues upon which we make a stand, but there’s a line between apologetics and needlessly divisive arguments. The King James Only (KJO) controversy An email from a man who said, “I’m sure you are familiar with Matthew 24:4 and you just did your little part, for your own sake I hope it WAS just plain pride and ignorance... There is no compromise my friend, and unless you don't care if He ‘spits you out’ you better straighten out with Him while today is still called today.” This fellow Christian essentially called those defending some modern translations (NIV and NASB) as false christs against illogical and poorly supported attacks. It isn’t just the KJO “laity” whose fruits of the Spirit have withered on the branches. Well known KJO authors epitomize the brashness of the militant KJO. KJO advocate Texe Marrs called Christian apologist James R. White “a devil” and “a servant of Satan,” because White documented twenty-eight pages of errors in Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions. KJO activist Peter Ruckman, in The Bible Believer’s Bulletin of August 1994, page 9, made this constructive comment directed toward White, “Blow it out your nose, kid. Out here in the traffic you’re liable to get run over. Stick to fairy tales.” Ruckman engages in even more outrageous vitriol in his attacks on non-KJO Christians, but this article isn’t about KJO militants. Other issues bring extremists out of the woodwork as well. A new Christian disclosed that his KJO friend had told him that his NIV Bible is a “perversion,” and not a real Bible. That NIV Bible had been instrumental in this young man’s life as he came to Christ. Hearing that Bible impugned in such a way made this young man question his salvation. It’s obvious that this wonderful new believer was indeed a new brother in Christ and by counseling got him to accept his NIV as an accurate rendering of the Word of God.
A Christian from Southeast Asia disclosed how his church had been torn apart by a couple of KJO proponents who chased off the pastor and divided the congregation. It is only because of the destructive results of the KJO militants that ministry engages in this debate. This should be an issue on which Christians can lovingly agree to disagree.19 Baptism Baptism is often a point of offense to Hindu families. In India religion is not as strictly organized as society is. Baptism is seen not only as an initiation ceremony related to religious faith, but also as initiation to enter a new community, leaving one’s birth religion and community behind. A baptized person is thus not fully accepted in the Hindu community and they sometimes have been excommunicated from society and are not allowed participate in important events or functions. Christ is still generally considered to be a foreign God brought by the British. He is also considered to be the God of the low caste people. Though the high caste people often have a high regard for Christ and the Bible they do not want to identify with Christianity. Some people still feel that an Indian who is patriotic should be a Hindu. These things contribute to the offense of baptism to the family members. Another major issue is that many Hindus believe that the salvation of parents depends upon the pujas and sacrifices done by the sons after the death of the parents. Once the son in a family leaves home to follow some other religion, or marries a girl from another caste, he loses his validity to do puja for the parents. So to leave Hindu parents is not simple. If at all he does so it will be at great cost to the family and to the individual who often loses his share of the family’s wealth and above all the love and affection of parents and family members. Once a disciple of Christ is baptized they join the local church, and we ought to understand the problems that accompanied church affiliation.12 Rarely do we find someone arguing – not that water baptism is simply unnecessary for salvation – but that it’s actually evil. However, this quote comes from one such, “Religious teachers who defend or perform water baptisms are the liars and deceivers that Jesus, His prophets and His apostles warned about over and over again… John called all water baptizers ‘antichrist’ and anyone who wants to be saved must first run from these people… Wake up or you too will perish in the lies and slander against the Sovereignty and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ!”19 Expectations of the Church Most of the converts join a local church, but most indicated that they do not receive any moral or physical support from the church. They have only the satisfaction of belonging to a church. Many people have not received any proper Bible teaching in order to grow in their newfound faith. Usually if a personal crisis arises it is the family members rather than the church that comes forward to spend for them time, money and energy. The expectations of the local church cause many problems for Disciples of Christ from Hindu families. Christians expect “converts” to make all the adjustments and changes in order to fit themselves in the church. They expect the converts to give up everything for the sake of Christ, but do not provide the needed teaching and support which are necessary for growth and life. Especially when single men and women join the church they face great difficulty in regard to their marriage.12 Marriage How many times have well-meaning people attempted to “hook you up” with some other equally unsuspecting single? Usually the reaction is nervous laughter, perhaps a shy grin, or maybe even a muttered or unspoken “why don’t they just leave me alone?” This scenario is particularly prevalent for singles who actually seem content with their singleness. And when this contentedness is coupled with age, “God’s little helpers” seem to appear in droves. There is an unspoken assumption on the part of humanityat-large that all singles constantly on the lookout for a mate or anything closely resemble such a relationship.
Many movies and television shows reinforce this mind-set. Although such media may depict real-life situations, it must be understood that not all singles desire to dangle themselves as mate-bait. Many singles have lived long enough and have been through enough stuff to know that the company of an empty head is much worse than an empty bed. It is better to be emotionally unattached than to be relationally mismatched.20 Parents mostly arrange marriage in India. The families are very much involved and not just the two individuals. There are many different customs and cultural practices followed in arranging and conducting marriages. These things differ according to the community and place. Marriage is a social event arranged and conducted by the parents, and it gives great satisfaction. When children go their own way in matters of marriage the parents are humiliated in their society. Those who marry unbelievers don’t have much freedom to read the Bible, pray and attend Church. But they continue to pray for their spouses to experience the grace and love of Christ. Some couple receives unwise and false teaching from their church. In order to be accepted in the church the wife removes her wedding chain (thali). In Indian community only widows remove the thali, and the families and relatives get very much offended by this. Such couples are not regarded as a good family in their society. So they lose their credibility to share the love of Christ with their people. Though they help in evangelization, their own family people are far away from them. When the spouses are not believers, born-again find it hard to bring up the children as believers in Christ. 12 Rapture Eschatology (the study of end-times prophecy) is a field in which a variety of different opinions can find some support in Scripture. Concerning the rapture of believers, there is no secret of the fact that to find the most biblical support for a pre-tribulation rapture. Others believe in a mid-tribulation (pre-wrath) rapture and others a post-tribulation rapture. The timing of the rapture is not a doctrine on which a person’s salvation hangs. As long as we follow Jesus’ admonitions to be prepared for the last days and guarded against the deception of Antichrist, then it’s not terribly important which rapture view you find most convincing. Our feelings are that we should all be prepared to be taken to heaven without notice, yet be strong enough to endure tribulation without letting our faith falter. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23, NIV). Titus 3:9 says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” Are all arguments “foolish and stupid”? Not at all! We must all take a stand on key doctrines of faith, especially where salvation is concerned. However, we must never forsake the witness we present. Those in the cults to whom we are trying to present the gospel are watching us. Many of these cults have strict dogma from which there is no diversion. A strictly unified dogma among Bible-believing Christians is not likely to occur, so we must focus instead on how we handle the disagreements on doctrine. Is the disagreement a matter of a key doctrine of salvation? If so, then firmly, but lovingly present your arguments. Is the debate over doctrines that don’t relate to the nature of God and salvation? Then it’s probably best to agree to disagree, and acknowledge each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. If we handle our disagreements with love and respect, the unbelievers will notice this. How we live our lives is as important a witness as the gospel we share. How we treat one another is just as important as how we treat the unbeliever. We share a gospel of a Savior who changes lives – a Savior who left us with the Holy Spirit to guide us and counsel us on how to live. We are to bear the fruits of the Spirit. When we don’t, then the message we share is hollow and without meaning. Some Christians judge others by the Bible translation they use. Some judge congregations, based on whether the ladies wear pants or dresses. Some Christians love a strict liturgy, and look down condescendingly on those who raise their hands toward heaven in church. Baptism required for salvation? Women wearing makeup? King James or NIV? Electric guitars or pipe organs? Pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture? There are a variety of positions taken on these issues, all by born again Christians. Sometimes the embers of disagreement are fanned into the flames of division, and we must
stop to ask ourselves, “Is this argument central to the issue of salvation, or is this a foolish and needlessly divisive controversy?” We need to ask this question before we become militant in our approach to the issue. Irrespective of the answer, we must never forsake the greatest commandment: to love God first and to love one another as ourselves. In Ephesians 4:15 we are told to speak the truth in love. Is that your motivation? What is the motivation for spreading the gospel if not out of love? Is your love evident in your actions and your words? John said, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). We must never shy away from the truth, but we must always share with love in our hearts. When we treat everyone (including each other) with love and respect, this provides the best external testimonial evidence to the truth of the gospel we share.16 Innovations When we learn a new skill, we often need to overcome a variety of stumbling blocks to achieve the new ability. When we attempt to implement a new practice in the workplace, we are often met with stumbling blocks that delay, if not inhibit, the anticipated beginning of the business practice. And, yes, even when we introduce a new concept in the church, we often face stumbling blocks. Sometimes the stumbling blocks are walls of resistance; and sometimes they are simple unforeseen issues that can be overcome easily. There are a few stumbling blocks take on human form! Consumerism In our society, the lack of money is regarded as a stumbling block. The lack of money is often a perceived stumbling block to a larger home, trendy clothes, the luxury automobile, a lavish vacation — even happiness. Sometimes the lack of money truly is a stumbling block to safe shelter and a healthy meal; however, focusing on those of us who have our basic needs met. We are conditioned by consumerism to constantly compare ourselves to those who have more. Consumerism causes us to have blurred vision concerning our needs and our wants and desires. We tend to believe, even if only subconsciously, that if we had a little more money, then we would be able to solve our problems. Even in the church, we may think of money as a stumbling block to successful ministry. Our financial position limits our mission, outreach, and ministry. Jesus urges us not to place stumbling blocks along the road of life. (See Mark 9:42.) Rather, Jesus pleads for us to cast aside anything that will cause us to stumble — even parts of ourselves (Mark 9:42-48). The major task to overcoming the stumbling block of money is to recognize that everything belongs to God. All that we possess is God's gift. God has abundantly blessed each one of us. We are called to be thankful for God's gifts. Moreover, we are called to be generous givers of what we possess. In the early portion of this Gospel reading, Jesus reminds the disciples that whoever offers another a cup of water will "by no means lose the reward" (Mark 9:41). Think of how life might change if we viewed our world through the eyes of abundance that Jesus gives us. We would begin to experience the world with the wide-eyed wonder and amazement of a child. The question suddenly shifts from "own much more can I acquire?" to "How much more can I give?" Although Jesus suggests that the consequence for not getting rid of these stumbling blocks is severe, he also provides the means to smash those stumbling blocks. Turn those stumbling blocks over to our Abundant Savior and "be at peace with one another" (Mark 9:50b). 21 Separation from Parents At first glance, separation from parents may not seem to be a potentially troublesome condition. Many people make a very smooth transition in leaving home. However, for others the cutting of the proverbial parental apron strings is arduous and accompanied by much pain and frustration. Several factors come
into play in this process: • • • • • How close was your relationship with your parents while you were growing up? What was the relationship like between your parents as husband and wife? Did your parents’ shelter, cling to, or strongly depend on you? Especially if you’re a man, was there a wholesome father figure in the home? Were you exposed to a variety of social situations, and did you spend adequate time with friends outside the home?
Answers to these and other questions can help us assess the relative degree of difficulty experienced in the process of achieving independence. Expressing the need to separate from parents does not imply disrespect, dishonor, or disregard in any sense. Strong family links are needed for as long as there is life. However, successful development as single adults must involve independence and self-reliance. Although sometimes parents admittedly hold too tightly to the parent-child relationship, at other times it is the single that perpetuates the overdependence. Reasons for this may range from psychological dependency to immaturity to just plain laziness. A major step in achieving independence is to move physically out of your parents’ home. This usually sends a strong message to both the parents and the single that something has changed. This message can be under girded through inviting the parents over for dinner after getting firmly established. Such an experience can provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment for the parents as well as for the single. Selfishness Few people desire to be known as selfish or self-centered, but the fact is that some singles fit squarely into this category. When living alone, it is easy to slip into a “me mode” of thinking and acting. Singles do not have to consult with anyone as to the color scheme of the bathroom, the music for the afternoon, or the menu for the week. No one has to agree to the purchases made, friends chosen, or trips planned. If they are not careful, singles can unintentionally grow to believe that the world revolves around them. Here are some of the symptoms of such a mind-set: • • • • Expressing dissatisfaction whenever things don’t go your way Failing to consider the desires and opinions of others when making plans Being unable to rejoice when someone else is blessed even when it does not involve you Being a poor listener, or tending to make conversation continually revolve around yourself and your concerns
Spending much money on self but seldom spending it on others one way to begin breaking out of selfcenteredness is to consciously start acting the opposite of the behaviors suggested above. It has been said that a person wrapped up in self makes too small a package to serve as a good gift. One of life’s strange paradoxes is that the more we give to others, the more we ourselves receive. Spending Financial spending is closely linked to selfishness, and it can be crippling. Unnecessary debt can easily and gradually accumulate in our lives so that by the time we realize our mistake, the damage is already done. The so-called American Dream can quickly become the American Nightmare if we do not give extreme care to the control and discipline of our finances. Consider the not-too-subtle exploitation in television advertisements and the unspoken peer pressure to purchase the latest fashions, gadgets, or transportation, American society places very little emphasis on restraint. The messages we experience on any given day range from “Just do it” to “Obey your thirst.” The media and the culture promote propaganda that essentially reasons: “You work hard, you deserve this, life is short, so go for it because you only go around once.” All this sounds sane on the surface, but what they don’t tell you are that
although life is short, their interest rate is high; and you may only go around once, but their bill comes every month. Mature singles come to the point of realizing the following simple life principles: • • • • • Just because I see it and like it does not mean I need it. I must practice deferred gratification: putting off the immediate desires of today in order to obtain the greater goals of tomorrow. I must never allow my financial outgo to exceed my financial income. I must invest in myself through saving or investing at least 10 percent of every paycheck. I must learn the principle of sowing and reaping through tithing and sharing with others.
One of the best investments you can make as a single is buying a home. Too many African-Americans unfortunately direct their purchasing power primarily toward goods and services that depreciate in value: clothes, cars, food, entertainment, and beauty care. Property is usually a very solid investment because it will always be in demand and typically increases in value over time. Get out of that rented apartment and invest in yourself rather than in your landlord. Apart from obtaining a reasonable car and house that fit your budget, personal debt is a noose around your neck that you don’t need if you expect to live and breathe normally. If you are currently in significant debt, stop now, cut up those credit cards, and commit yourself to paying off those bills before you incur new ones. This may require some sacrifice now, but you will love yourself for it later. Six mortgage secrets that can save money These simple tips can literally save you thousands of dollars and move you more quickly down the road to financial independence. • • • • • • The thirty-year-loan is usually a poor choice for the home buyer. The interest over that length of time will cause you to pay significantly beyond the original price. Seek a fifteen-year loan. If possible, make an additional principle payment on the day your loan is activated. This simple action will shave time and thousands of dollars off the duration and amount of your loan. Ask your lender for an “amortization schedule” and include an extra principle payment above the stated amount on each mortgage payment. Make a partial payment every two weeks. This tactic is similar in effect to no. 2 and will drastically reduce the length and amount of your loan because you will be making one extra payment per year. Shop around for the lowest interest rate and the lowest “points” available. Do not hesitate to haggle with the lender or the seller about anything you want to change about the deal. If you are refinancing an FHA loan, try to close near the end of the month to avoid duplicating interest payments. Remember at all times that it is you who control the flow of money, not the mortgage institution.
S tress Sometimes singles manage to acquire a level of stress that surpasses that of the rest of the population. Consider some of the reasons why singles develop stress: (1) Over commitment—a problem exacerbated by the expectations of married people who think that because you are single you have all the time in the world (2) Misplaced priorities (3) Failure to plan . Procrastination Other stress producers stem from ordinary life experiences ranging from something as serious as a personal or family illness, to something seemingly as simple as changing a job or a residence. Stress can cause breakdowns in communication and relationships. It may show up through job-career ineffectiveness. Sometimes stress may also have a spiritual foundation. The Mental Health Association of the Ozarks has developed a three-step plan to combat stress that essentially states:
1. Welcome challenges: Realize that life is a process. Stay open to learning, and don’t be afraid of new people and new experiences. 2. Develop control: Create your own happiness and learn to build on your strengths. 3. Commit to your purpose: Discover your central purpose in life, work toward it, and give it your very best. Because singles may not always have an immediate support system, it is sometimes easy to become discouraged. When this occurs, you may need to try one or more of the following suggestions to pull yourself out of depression or discouragement: • • • • • • • • Try not to exaggerate. Decide not to whine. Make sure you are well rested. Consider whether you need to repent. Consider whether you need to rejoice. Consider whether you need to forgive. Consider whether you need to take some action. Consider whether you need to trust God more.
Remember that life has too much to offer to shortchange yourself and others through depression and discouragement. Sexual Pitfalls We can fall into a variety of unhealthy sexual situations sometimes set up by others. These pitfalls tend to be well camouflaged and therefore very easy to miss except for a discerning eye. And the apostle ceased not to preach and to say unto them: Ye men and women, boys and girls, young men and maidens, strong men and aged, whether bond or free, abstain from fornication and covetousness and the service of the belly: for under these three heads all iniquity cometh about. For fornication (harboring to sexual thoughts, masturbation, pre-marital, extra-marital, heterosexual, homosexual, sex with animals etc.,) blindeth the mind and darkeneth the eyes of the soul, and is an impediment to the life (conversation) of the body, turning the whole man unto weakness and casting the whole body into sickness. And greed putteth the soul into fear and shame; being within the body it seizeth upon the goods of others, and is under fear lest if it restores other men's goods to their owner it be put to shame… Acts of Apostle Thomas 1:28 Spiritual Imbalance Perhaps one of the most overlooked reasons that some singles stumble is spiritual imbalance. As human beings we were created with a need to know, love, and honor God. This genuine need has been replaced, however, with counterfeits in the form of relationships, careers, possessions, chemicals, and an assortment of other “fake fillers.” The sad reality is that no matter how long and how hard we may search for a way to fill the void we were born with, nothing will ever fill it except a personal relationship with God. You may feel that you have tried almost everything, but you still remain dissatisfied. Perhaps you have placed your heart in the hand of a man or a woman only to have that person carelessly drop it and shatter it. Or maybe you don’t know exactly what the problem is but you know you have no peace inside, there is something missing, and there must be more to life. For the beginning of an exciting and abundant life of faith take these important next steps: • • Daily devour and obey the promises and instructions of the Bible. Daily communicate with God through prayer.
Get in constant companionship with strong, godly people who will help you to grow. Begin to share your faith with others and discover and use your spiritual gifts.
As a single you have the unique opportunity to develop a deep and undistracted devotion to God. Don’t waste this precious privilege but, rather, give God’s ruler ship and character first priority in your life. When you do that, all the other concerns of life will tend to fall into place (Matthew 6:33). The image of the sad single is so pervasive that many singles who have a weak sense of self-worth tend to go from relationship to relationship without a rest simply because they must be with someone—anyone— in order to feel validated. Sometimes this is a subconscious reaction, and it may unfortunately take a lifetime to admit and correct such counterproductive behavior. To avoid the trap of the “Sad Single,” we must seek a dependable source of validation. This source cannot be external validation. External validation seeks personal props from the outside for us to remain sane. When respected people approve of, give compliments to, flatter, flirt with, or otherwise stroke the ego of such a single, everything is lovely. Of course, everyone needs to be needed by others from time to time, but if being liked by others becomes a priority, we are headed for a lifetime of disappointment. People can be unpredictable. Once we think we have figured out how they want us to act and we modify our behavior accordingly, they change their minds. If a person adopts this pattern of conformity for an extended amount of time, this behavior could result in a mild-to-serious case of schizophrenia. The requirements of external validation are hardly worth the rewards—especially when we consider the alternatives. One positive alternative is internal validation. This phrase refers to seeking value and worth from inside us. We are created in the image of God and are packed with such valuable elements as a mind to think about the present, a memory to reflect upon the past, and an imagination to dream about the future. We are wealthy if we possess a conscience, a talent, or a gift to share with the rest of creation. Many of the answers to the puzzles of life lie locked inside us as we busily embark upon repeated attempts to discover truth and meaning. This current “drive-through” culture is a rapid world of “get there in a hurry, do it quicker, send it sooner and get it faster.” We have instant everything but we need to learn how to STOP . . . and be quiet for a change. Your inner voice desires an appointment with you. If we listen, we can learn a lot from someone who can very easily become an intimate stranger: our inner self. A third source of validation is eternal validation, which can also be very near or very far, depending on our desire. This level of validation is important because it will remain even during those days when our external support system is dysfunctional and our internal flame has begun to flicker. Eternal validation does not rely on the unpredictable fickleness of other people or the unintentional human shortcomings within us. This type of validation depends on a source and a force far greater than could ever be exhausted by worldly means. Eternal validation is a phenomenon that extends beyond family, race, or mere religion. It refers to a personal relationship with a powerful God who desires to take us beyond our heritage and traditions so that we can discover our ultimate God-given purpose in life. The person who knows his or her purpose is destined to make a difference. 20 b) Ecclesiastical
There are limited resources for delineating the history of Christianity in India until the early-to-mid 16 century when, according to one historian, “Roman Catholic missionaries, chiefly Franciscans worked among the Paravas of the west coast of Tamil Nadu and made many converts.” Father Michael Vaz was the leader of this endeavor as he “. . . baptized most of the Paravas, or caste of fishermen.” Mass baptisms were not uncommon during these years. Jayakumar writes, “Xavier arrived in India in 1542 and in less than ten years he could claim between fifteen to twenty thousand converts among the oppressed classes, particularly the Mukkuvas, a sub class of the Parava community.” Francis Xavier arrived in India in 1542 and “. . . worked mainly among the Paravas in the Tuticorin and adjoining coastal areas.” He left India a decade later and the work was carried on through various Roman Catholic missionaries. Protestantism entered India later; it was still fighting its own battles as it swept across Europe in various
guises throughout the 16 century. Muller writes, In the first 150 years after the outbreak of the Reformation, the Protestant churches were so much occupied with the working out to their own positions, with their defense against the forces of the Counter-reformation, and the solution of their own inner tensions, that they had little time or strength to consider a wider world and its claims upon them.
It wasn’t until the early 18 century with the arrival of German Lutherans sent from the King of Denmark that Protestant Christianity would be firmly planted on the subcontinent. As northern European nations
were establishing bridge-heads and trade centres throughout India in the 17 century, King Frederick IV of Denmark decided to send the first Protestant missionaries to the Danish trading settlement of Tranquebar (also known as Tarangambadi) which was located about 150 miles south of Madras. The young missionaries encountered hostile reactions early on as Danish merchants were more concerned with profits than with propagation. However, they persevered, learned the Tamil language, established schools and seminaries, translated the Scriptures (in 1714-15) as well as many textbooks, set up printing presses, and collected a vast corpus of manuscripts that rest in Halle today. Others came to join them in their work—which was by now gaining the attention not only of the Danes but of the British as well. One of the great moments during Benjamin Schultze’s1689-1760) time as leader of the Tranquebar mission was when the first Indian minister was ordained in December of 1733. In spite of interminable opposition from the East India Company, Schwarz continued to campaign around
South India, recruiting disciples and visiting fledge ling churches. During the early 19 century the Tinnevelly mission, according to Gibbs, “. . . fell into a phase of decadence.” He places the blame chiefly on conditions in Europe: 1) the eclipse of pietism by Voltairian enlightenment, 2) the death of A. H. Francke—the Pietist lover of missions to south India at Halle, 3) the French Revolution and ensuing Napoleonic Wars which effectively severed Halle from the Prussian monarchy, and 4) the rising German nationalism taking place at the University of Berlin. The result of this was a shortage of missionaries. Devadason notes, “. . . between 1804 and 1829 there was no SPCK missionary.” By this time, “. . . the entire Tinnevelly district had been ceded to the British in 1801.” However, the East India Company was still very suspicious of Christian missions, demonstrated by the fact that they did not officially allow missionaries even to work in India until 1813. According to van der Veer, “. . . in the early decades of the nineteenth century the Company was still giving patronage to Hindu temples and festivals, especially in the South.” The Company was eventually forced to withdraw this policy, but not without resistance. Jayakumar’s excellent study of the Company’s resistance is particularly useful, The East India Company, as a trade and profit-oriented organization, was not willing to interfere in matters of the religion and culture of the natives. . . The Company, and later the British Raj, the imperial system constructed by the Company, was suspicious of missionaries’ political views and therefore both Company and Raj favoured Brahminical Hinduism. . . The Raj spent 20,000 Pounds annually for the support of Brahmins and the operation of several pagodas in the district, besides other emoluments. In the 1840's Robert Caldwell himself witnessed open British support for Brahminical Hinduism. The debates over this issue would continue to 1838. Nevertheless, the missionaries’ zeal was unrelenting. Five missionary societies led the charge to Christianize the subcontinent: 1) the London Missionary Society (LMS—founded in 1795); 2) the Church Missionary Society (CMS—founded in 1799); 3) the Wesleyan Methodist Mission (founded in 1814); 4) the various Scottish missionary societies that would culminate under the banner of the Foreign Missions Committee in 1824; and5) the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG—founded in 1701, but turned its attention again to India in 1818). In addition to having to contend with the East Indian Company, the Christians also had to struggle with Hindu resistance. Devadason agrees with Gibbs’ assessment that the district was facing Hindu persecution, “The years 1809 to 1816 may be described as a dark period for Tirunelveli district because of droughts and epidemics and it was even a darker period for the little Christian community who suffered additional distress owing to persecution by Brahmins.” Hudson agrees that the Hindu resistance was quite vigorous during this period: Hindus opposed the Christian missions from the earliest days they were established among the Tamils; literary evidence for it is indirect, largely because the printing press was
not available to Tamil ownership until 1835. Hindus, who wrote anti-Christian literature during this period, circulated it as oral literature or in handwritten copies, few of which survive. Hindu works that did appear before 1835 were printed on government or missionary presses and were written generally by Tamil scholars who worked for Europeans. The persecution was so intense at one point in 1841 that the Bishop of Madras wrote a letter to the Tinnevelly clergy addressing these issues. Included here are excerpts: It has been brought to my knowledge that a spirit of persecution has lately sprung up against our poor native Christian flocks throughout the district of Tinnevelly. . . But fear not for your little flocks: if they thus suffer for the sake of righteousness, blessed are they. . . These trials are sent for the proving and the purifying of their faith and ours, and that like the first converts to the gospel in their patience shall they possess their souls. . . If they hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering, if they continue patiently in doing well, casting all their care upon that God who, as they no know, careth for them, most undoubtedly they will be supported. . . The temptation must be strong to the native Christians to fall away under such a situation; but I with hope believe that they will be enabled to stand. Tell them of the holy men in Scripture who had trial of cruel mocking and scourging, yea, moreover, of bonds, and imprisonment and death. Muller writes that the Christians were being harassed by the local government and on at least one occasion (at Mudalur) a Church was burned down. The tumult caused many of the new Christians to feel that this was punishment for abandoning their previous deities and demons.5 Indians associated missionaries, whether justly or not, with the colonial ruling power. This encouraged some conversions, especially among disadvantaged and marginal groups who felt they could better themselves by affiliating with the religion of the British. Their sentiments were expressed in the sermon offered by a local preacher. India was ruled first by Brahmini rulers and at the time the Bramins kept the Harijans away from the main village in a separate block. They were denied all privileges and education. Then came the Muslim rule. The Muslims defeated the Brahmini rulers with the help of the British. Then the British became the emperors of the world and ruled the earth. They, with the love of Christ, came here to us and lifted us up from our low state. Through Jesus Christ we have received salvation (mukti) and education. Salvation is to be found in the Bible, and now we are able to read it and tell others about this good news. However where anti-colonial sentiment was strong, especially among clean caste Hindus, it proved a great impediment to conversion. Carman points out that while conversions among lower Sudra castes had been on the increase until 1940, they decreased after that until 1947 and at the time of his writing (1968) had nearly stopped. After Independence, Christianity no longer had the same social appeal to Harijans either. Most missionaries viewed conversion as a total break from Hinduism. Evangelical Christianity presented sin as the essential human problem from which faith in Christ was the only salvation. Other religions were often demeaned or regarded as demonic. Native evangelists were more likely to present Christianity in terms meaningful to the Hindu villager, but in less orthodox formulas. This sometimes created tensions between the missionary or the seminary trained minister and the indigenous preacher. Carman and Luke observed a superintending minister publicly criticizing an evangelist by remarking to the evangelist's congregation. "The evangelist said that you received land, etc., through Jesus, but he did not say that you have received salvation from your sins through Him." One missionary protested against any adaptation to Indian religious paradigms in these words: The real meaning of this unreasonable demand. after all, is not that Christianity should be adapted to the Hindu mind, but to Hindu religion and philosophy. Hindu pantheism or Vedantism cannot accept the doctrines of Christ e.g. the doctrines of sin and atonement. The trouble is not with the oriental's mind, but with his religious system, which practically obliterates moral distinctions, does away with personality and accountability, and makes sin simply a misfortune, and so has no need for atonement. Where local evangelists did utilize indigenous symbols their efforts to reach the higher castes were much more effective as we have seen with Sadhu Joseph. Missionaries who were too rigid in their theologies often impeded conversions. Converts were often given a new name and expected to use it thereafter. In
practice they usually used them only in the presence of church workers. Converts were sometimes forbidden to participate in village festivals associated with idol worship. This rule was generally ignored, except by the Madiga converts whose traditional occupation included beating the drums at festivals. As Christians they no longer wished to associate themselves with such a defiling activity. Interlining with untouchables was often a test for admission to communion. The long tuft of hair (juttu) worn by Hindu men was considered prohibited as well and shorn before baptism. The church also forbade the intermarriage of Christians and Hindus and insisted on Christian ceremonies. During the period of British rule those who violated strictures could be brought to court and fined or imprisoned. Christian evangelists demanded a complete break from Hindu tradition this rarely occurred in actual practice, especially in those areas without a full time resident evangelist. Most Christians, Luke and Carman found, participated in some form of non-Christian rites and believed in their efficacy. They wrote: Most Christians have a Hindu or Muslim name as well as a Christian name. Some tie a cross around their necks, and on the same thread put a Hindu charm or talisman. Once when the author (P.Y.L.) was invited into a home to pray with a woman in acute pain, he found the sacred ashes of Kamudu (kept from the bonfire at Holi) smeared over her body in order to ward off the evil spirits. Christians give thank-offerings to Christ, and also pay considerable sums to the wandering mendicants of their own caste. They meet regularly to worship Christ, but also on occasion sacrifice a chicken to Poshamma the goddess of smallpox. They respect their presbyter and sometimes bring him through the village in great procession, yet they consult a Brahman about auspicious days and hours and ask him to draw up horoscopes for various purposes. They keep a picture of Jesus Christ on the wall of their houses, but in a niche in the same wall they have a little image of their household goddess, Balamma or Ellamma. They want the blessings of 'Lord Jesus' without incurring the displeasure of any of the village goddesses. Every year many of these celebrate twelve to thirteen Hindu festivals and a Muslim festival Muharram as well as the two Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter. In Kandapuram, the washerman who came back from Sadhu Joseph's healing services and started attending Christian worship said that he could not possibly be baptized because of the religious duties he had to perform for the whole village. To this an elder of the congregation replied, 'It does not matter. You can do both. We are both doing both and yet we are Christians. We carry out our traditional duties at the village sacrifices, except that we do not eat the meat offered to idols.’ Some Christian families did not participate to such a large extent in the Hindu rites, yet these were not necessarily the families regarded as the best Christians in terms of morality. Some congregations had developed a more distinctive Christian identity as a result of the influence of a number of young men with some education and more urban contacts. This has weakened their belief in the deities and demonic spirits. For the most part, Christian converts adapt the general pluralistic attitudes of their village. They regard Jesus as their ishta devata or favorite deity and see no contradiction with worshiping other gods. They realize that the church ministers disapprove of this. but persist in those practices deemed necessary for welfare of the entire village and its protection from malevolent powers and calamities. Carman and Luke in their study of the Jangarai section of Andhra Pradesh found that most Christians knew a few of Jesus' miracles, he was born of a virgin, and that he died on a cross. Fewer knew of the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost or about his expected return. The concept of vicarious atonement is not well understood, though stories of Jesus' passion arouse their sympathies. Often they believe the sacrifice of Jesus was to placate Satan. Village Christians refer to Jesus as Yesuswami and believe by worshiping him they will receive telivi or knowledge and barkat or material blessing. By 'knowledge' they refer to the knowledge of reading and writing made available to them since becoming Christians and more particularly to the knowledge of the Bible. The term does not include the Hindu notion of jnana, the knowledge that leads to salvation. Rather it means that, like the higher caste Hindus and Muslims, they now have access to their own scriptures. By blessings they mean that Jesus will heal the sick, bless their crops, protect them from misfortune, and grant them success. The usual term for God is deva the generic term for deity. The Trinity is generally unknown, as is the concept of the Holy Spirit. Village Christians refer to Jesus as avatar. Communion is often associated with Hindu isadaq and it causes confusion that Communion is not offered to all Christians. Hindus present at worship services have been particularly offended at being denied the elements. Salvation is usually translated as moksha and is perceived as a
state of eternal communion with the Lord. Salvation from sin is rarely understood and is usually perceived as a specific immoral act rather than a state of being. Christians in Andhra Pradesh are not distinguished so much by their attitudes or customs, but by the act they form a distinctive religious community having their own religious specialists and distinctive form of worship not directed to a material image. Christian converts continue to participate in the Hindu ritual life, still recognize that being a Christian is to be other than a Hindu. In instances where they identified themselves as Hindus for census purposes they recognized this as an act of dissimulation,, and usually offered their Christian name to church officials. 1 The Church is a depository of true wisdom and cannot renounce its duty to teach men not only individual obligations but social and civic ones as well. The simple most important contribution to the West was the introduction of the redeeming message of Jesus Christ with its own world of symbols and rituals, which seems to have been incorporated into the religious and spiritual drives of the natives with relative ease ». It is hard to agree with this view totally and with his further point that with the redeeming message of Jesus Christ, the Christian principles of the sacredness of the human person which would ultimately be the foundation for the principles of human rights and social justice come. True they did, but often instances of Christian hardness and intolerance over the locals is all too evident in history. It pertains to the maturity of a local Church that it spontaneously expresses its faith in local art forms. In their worship, converts should find the artistic atmosphere of Christian churches congenial to their own sense of sacred art and an incentive to make further contributions to this highly refined expression of their faith. The Church must take seriously the total world of the convert: his social relationship together with his legal status, his cultural and religious traditions, and his mental framework. Conversion in India today still involves an unnecessary break with this inheritance. A reader attacked the use of forms similar to those of the pagans to describe Christian themes saying that: The pagan must never be allowed to confuse the real, historic figures of Christianity with his old gods and goddesses. Nay, the missionary's chief aim must be to help him to escape from the confusion. You have labored to convince the neophyte that Our Lord and the Saints are in an altogether different order of truth from the figures of mythology. If you now represent them in picture or statue as both alike after all, you are undoing your whole work and throwing back the poor man into his worst error. There is the fact that the presence of local elements in religious festivities and practices from the earliest times make them popular even today. The sense of the mystery of God and his inscrutable ways led many then as now to attempt practices in the hope of cure or protection. Yet the clergy of the time and the civil authorities suggested by their tacit approval of these practices that only supernatural intervention could solve their problems thus preventing the people from improving their economic and social world in a way they thought fit. The trampling on local sensibilities and on age-old cultural traditions, psychologically, were the most debilitating to the collective identity of a people. This led to their degeneration, conquest and humiliation.There is a felt need for reform in the Church, for a rupture with one's tradition keeping only what was essential to construct a Church of the future while giving up what was past. Indian Christians act out the conflicts and contradictions in their society. The drama is shaped by politics, culture, and history. The conclusion will be the transformation of Christianity and the people themselves. One priest wrote about the need for pastors to teach the people to live a religious life which was authentic and which avoided sumptuousness in meals, the money which in the plan of God belonged to the poor. These are persons with problems who feel bereft of a sense of belonging in a large church. An issue of Renovação remarked that there were sects for all tastes and of all shades of opinion some with classic and old beliefs and others with certain eccentricities some innocuous and others dangerous some asking from their followers a rigid moral code of conduct and others offering sexual permissiveness and promiscuity some born and grown up in the West and others made in East. Healing at these meetings through the power of prayer is emphasized in such a way and degree that the followers of some sects asked for miracles and extraordinary interventions when faced with ailments and illnesses which could have been tackled through normal medical means. Inner healing was also resorted to without recourse to the sacramental means like the sacrament of reconciliation.
Each urban parish has about 25 families joining them. Low income joins mainly because of financial aid and support during crises. The middle class group wants a personalized God experience or is disenchanted with a parish priest or is faced a serious problem and did not get support from the priest. There is a need to fill the void that has been created in the lives of people, he writes, and a need to renew faith. There are however, no shortcuts to spiritual salvation. Healing is certainly as is clear in the Gospels, part of the Christian ministry. However given the marked tendency of the people for exaggeration and fancy flights, it has to be exercised with utmost care. It should be the policy not to allow public healing services, open indiscriminately to all and sundry as past experience has shown that such a delicate ministry offered to people uninitiated to its exact meaning according to the Christian understanding; gives easily rise to deviation and abuses detrimental to Christian faith and life. A healing ministry that does not lead the faithful to appreciate and accept this Gospel of Christ needs to be pruned so that it may bear fruit. Christian Mission according to the Second Vatican Council The second Vatican Council had statements on issues like the working class, youth, the Church, communications, ecumenism, education, non-Christians and religious freedom. It reminded Catholics that the Church had never ceased to keep before her eyes the complex problems of the working world, echoes of that concern showing them in previous pontifical encyclicals. The Church is their friend, they are told. It is not only the bread of the earth which can satisfy people's hunger. Thus, they were advised to accept the message of the Church and the faith which she offered them to enlighten their path. The Council had a special word for the youth encouraging them that it was for them that the Church offered to enlighten their path to the future. The Church, they were told, was particularly anxious that the society in which they lived allow the free expansion of the faith, and that their souls bask freely in its helpful light. She was confident that they would find such strength and such joy that they would not be tempted to yield to the seductions of hedonistic philosophies or to despair and annihilation, and that in the face of atheism, they would know how to affirm their faith in life and in what gave meaning to life. The Council appealed to them to open their hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of their elders, and to place their youthful energies at their service. The Council affirmed that children and young people had a right to be encouraged to weigh moral values with an upright conscience, and to embrace them by personal choice and to know and love God more adequately. It earnestly entreated all who exercised government over peoples to see that youth was never deprived of that sacred right. Since parents had conferred life on their children, they had an obligation to educate their offspring. They had to be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators was so decisive that scarcely anything could compensate for their failure in it. The office of educating belonged to the Church, also, because she had the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all. In discharging her educative functions, the Church was more concerned with the means which were proper to her. Of these catechetical training was the foremost, a training which gave clarity and vigor to faith. Among all the agencies of education the school has a special importance. It sets up a kind of centre which needs the common participation of families, teachers, and various kinds of cultural, civic, and religious groups, civil society, and the entire human community. As regards the Church, the Council wrote that it was highly important, especially in pluralistic societies that a proper view existed of a relationship between the political community and the Church. The faithful would thus be able to make a clear distinction between what a Christian conscience leads them to do in their own name as citizens and what they do in the name of the Church and in union with her leaders.22
6. Immersion Baptism When asking, “What must I do to be saved?” we must also ask -What is the meaning and purpose of Baptism? The work of the cross is God’s offer of life… Baptism is our acceptance. There are many teachings and many traditions regarding the subject of baptism. This has long been one of the most controversial points of doctrine since the church began. The goal of this website is to explore strictly what is written on the topic in the New Testament scriptures themselves. We will look at the scriptures on baptism in question first and let God’s Word speak for itself.
I Peter 1:24-25 and pay close attention, for John 12:48. So let us not allow the traditions of men to come before the Word of God as revealed in the scriptures. Christ spoke of this inclination of people Mark 7:13 and He condemned it. Let us remember instead that those who are blessed are those that obey and KEEP God’s Word Luke 11:28, John 8:31-32
For the purposes of the rest of the discussion it will be noted that the mode of baptism is used in the definition of full water immersion. The Greek for the word ‘baptizo’ means to immerse, plunge, dip, or bury in water. The very Greek word itself excludes it from meaning “sprinkling.” Let’s begin by looking at each individual passage that relates to baptism and then at all of them together as a whole and let the Bible speak for itself: Matthew 3:13-16, Ephesians 4:4-5, Romans 6:3-5, I Peter 3:21, Colossians 2:12, John 3:1-5, Acts 8:2640, Galatians 3:26-27, Mark 16:15-16, Titus 3:5, Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:38-41, Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. Baptism in the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament is always practiced by adults who have: a.) heard the message of the gospel (of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ), b.) believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and paid for their sins on the cross, c.) turned away from their sins (repented) and d.) turned to Christ in faith and then e.) were fully immersed in water into Christ and into new life. There are these five basic events, combined, that mark conversions in the New Testament: 1. Hear 2. Believe (faith) 3. Repent of our sins 4. & 5. Confess verbally faith in Jesus and be baptized (fully immersed) in water for the forgiveness of our sins 6. Remain faithful
It’s that simple. In the Book of Acts, these five “ingredients” all take place in a very short time period, almost as a singular event.
Baptism is… Baptism is how we get into Christ. Baptism is always accompanied by faith and repentance. Baptism is God’s terms of surrender. Baptism is our signal to God we have accepted Christ’s gospel. Baptism is the external washing with water and the internal washing away of sin by God. Baptism is “calling on the name of the Lord.” Baptism is being unified with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is “clothing” us with Christ. Baptism is “accepting” Christ (on His terms, not ours) Baptism is when our sins are forgiven. Baptism is when we receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism is how and when we come into contact with the blood of Christ. Baptism is when we are reborn. Baptism is an act of faith. Baptism is how we enter the kingdom of God. Baptism is when we are added to the body of Christ (the church). Baptism is when we exchange our life for His. Baptism is when we die to ourselves and come alive in Christ. Baptism is the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the starting gun of a race of a new life. Baptism is proclaiming in Christ the resurrection of the dead. Baptism is when the old dies and the new arises. In this manner we become saved. Baptism is the point in time when we become saved. Baptism is when we stop living for ourselves and start living for Jesus. Baptism is how and when we scripturally make a conscious decision to dedicate our lives to Christ. Baptism is how we scripturally enter into a relationship with Christ. Baptism is the gavel striking the bench proclaiming forgiveness of sins, the end of the old and the birth of the new. BAPTISM: is done FOR the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) is done to SAVE us (1Peter 3:21, Acts 2:40, Mark 16:16) Is done to WASH AWAY OUR SINS (Acts 22:16) is done to be REBORN to new life (John 3:5, Romans 6:3-6) is done to CLOTHE ourselves with Christ (Gal 3:26-27) is done so that GOD will RESURRECT us from death (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-6) is done as a REQUIRMENT to enter heaven (John 3:5, Mark 16:16) is done to put us INTO CHRIST (Romans 6:3-6, Galatians 3:26-27, 1Corinthians 12:13) When accompanied by faith and repentance, baptism (immersion) is how and when our sins are washed away. If it is not done for the purpose of washing our sins away (Acts 22:16), it is not the ONE baptism of the New Testament (Ephesians 4:4-5) and therefore the “baptism” is invalid. It needs to be done in the correct, Scriptural manner. When Jesus died on the cross, He, who had no sin, paid the death penalty for our sins. Through baptism we are united, or joined with Christ in paying the death penalty for sin. We are baptized into His death, into the death penalty for sin. We, who are unable to return from death because we have sin, are joined to Christ—and since Christ is sinless and was victorious over death, we, now being united with Him through baptism, are made victorious being united with Christ in His resurrection. Now if God allows us to participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (an event which occurred 2000 years ago), through baptism, it can truly be said we are saved through faith and God’s grace!
Baptism can be likened to the Israelites coming up out of the land of slavery, passing through the Red Sea and entering the Promised Land. Baptism can be likened to passing through the flood of Noah. Baptism is about leaving our old sinful, worldly ways behind and taking upon our shoulders the yoke of Christ. It is about lifestyle change and dying to ourselves and doing God’s will instead of ours. Baptism changes the reason and purpose for living. Afterward is a new way of life. Baptism is about heart, faith, total commitment, surrender, self-denial, death, resurrection, repentance, and seeking God’s mercy through Jesus Christ and the work He did on that cross on that day of infamy 2000 years ago. See also Romans 6:3-5 Baptism IS the gospel!
The work of the cross is God’s offer of life… Baptism is our acceptance. The Thief on the Cross Three scriptural reasons why this is an invalid argument Some will ask, “Well, what about the thief on the cross? He wasn’t baptized and Jesus very clearly told him he would be in paradise. Doesn’t that prove baptism in not essential for salvation?” This is a perfectly valid question and makes sense at first glance. However, the problem arises from not having a clear understanding of what baptism represents and what the scriptures tell us about it. Baptism represents being unified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, according to Romans 6:3-6. The problem with the thief on the cross when Jesus told him he would be with Him in paradise is that Jesus was still alive. Christ had not yet died or been buried, so He had certainly not risen yet either. Baptism into Christ was not put into practice until Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 after Christ had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. I) The thief on the cross was still under the Old Covenant and therefore not subject to this baptism. He was saved just like anyone else under the Old Covenant.
II) But besides that, when Christ was on this earth, He had the authority to forgive people of their sins. Look at Mark 2:9-12.
When Christ was on the cross, He was still on this earth. And He had the authority to forgive sins. III) An additional point to consider: To even position the argument about the thief on the cross one must be able to prove he was never baptized. But consider the following verses:
So who can really say the thief was never baptized before he was crucified? According to Mark 1:4-5 there is a plausible chance he was! Invite Jesus into your heart through prayer Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.” This verse is taken out of context if it is applied to mean initial conversion. This is written in a letter to the church in Laodicea, i.e. to those that have already been baptized and have already been born again. This is not a verse about conversion. It was written to people who were already Christians (the church—see verse 14) and who were growing weak, in order to urge them back to a closer walk with God. Many teach out of error that one only need say a prayer that goes something like this in order to be saved: "Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I have sinned by my own choice. I take the responsibility for it. I know that I have earned punishment from You, and that the fair punishment would be death. Jesus, I believe that You died in my place. Forgive me for my sin. I cannot cover up or take my sin away; I am relying totally and completely on You. I am completely helpless. You are the only one who can save me. I reject my sin, I turn away from it, and I repent. Please come into my life, wash away my sin, and show me how to live my life in a way that is right and pleasing to You." Nowhere in scripture do we see anyone “praying for salvation.” Although the thoughts and attitudes expressed in this prayer are exactly correct, it needs to be followed up with baptism into Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Saying a prayer for salvation may sound reasonable from a human standpoint, but it is totally unbiblical and foreign to the New Testament.
Scripture Acts 2:38-41 Acts 8:5-12 Acts 8:26-40 Acts 9:18 Acts 10:47-48 Acts 16:15 Acts 16:16-33 Acts 18:8 Acts 19:3-5 Acts 22:16
Prayer of “invitation to Jesus” taught? NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
Baptism taught? YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
If you have prayed a prayer like this, you have been stopped just short of the “one yard line” (to use a term from the sport of American football) You may have asked the Lord to show you what He wants you to do in your life. So keep going. Don’t stop now. Go get baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
If you have prayed such a prayer asking God to save you, He is responding to your prayer right now by telling you what HIS salvation plan is and that you have not heard the full story! He has heard your plea and wants to save you. God wants you to know His salvation plan involves being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. The work of the cross is God’s offer of life… Baptism is our acceptance. “But baptism is a ‘work’ and we are not saved by works…we are saved by faith alone.” First, we must consider what the definition of a “work” is that we are using. If one defines baptism a “work” then we must also label believing a “work”. We must also label repenting a “work”. Believing and repenting are both things we must DO as a prerequisite to salvation. They are both things that require human action. Baptism is merely the last part of that equation. James tells us he will show us his faith by what he does. Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. -James 2:17 It must be remembered that although baptism is something we must do (like believing and repenting), baptism is an act of faith, not a “work.” It must also be noted that the one at “work” when we are baptized is God, not us. See Colossians 2:12. Just as we must report to the hospital before a surgeon can operate on us, so too, we must “report to God’ in the waters of baptism, submitting to God and claiming His promise so that our sins will be forgiven. It is the surgeon who is going to are operated on us; similarly it is God who is the one who is at work when we undergo baptism. Baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is our birth (John 3:3-5). Baptism is not an on going process such as feeding the poor, or clothing the homeless or offering sacrifices as they did under the Old Covenant. Doing good deeds cannot earn us eternal life. Baptism is a manifestation of faith. It is not Man who is at work in baptism; it is God. Baptism is not a “work of righteousness.” On the contrary, if anything, it should be considered a work of Unrighteousness. We are baptized because we are corrupt, unrighteous and spiritually dead in sin. This is why we are buried with HIM into DEATH as explained in Romans 6. It is the DEAD that are buried, not the living. But God has always measured faith by our actions, as James 2:17-26 tells us: Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. But, someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith apart from works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith apart from works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called Friend of God. You see, then, that out of works is man declared righteous, and not out of faith only; And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? For as the body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Did you catch that? There are many who teach one is saved by “faith alone,” but there is only one place in the bible where the phrase “faith alone” is found—James 2:24. And it states very plainly we are NOT saved by faith alone!!! “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”
It is faith (or belief) that causes us to respond to God’s Word--the Gospel message. It is faith in God’s Word, which tells us Christ died in our place and rose again, that causes us to believe. It is our belief in God’s Word that causes us to turn from our sins and repent. It is our belief in God’s Word that causes us to go into the water in repentance for the purpose of having our sins forgiven and “washed away.” And it is in this manner that it can be said we are saved by faith. If we believe God’s Word about His salvation plan and respond accordingly, only then it can be said we are saved by our faith—because it is faith that acts as the catalyst to our response (repentance and baptism). If we do not believe, then we will not repent, nor will we go down into the water for the purpose of having our sins forgiven. Even Martin Luther, who coined the phrase "salvation by faith only", understood that salvation by grace through faith did not preclude the necessity of baptism: In answer to the question, what does Baptism give? What good is it? Luther replied in his Small Catechism, “It gives the forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the hade, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God's words and promises declare.” It must always be emphasized that baptism is an act in which God works, not Man. This happens through faith in God’s Word—His Son. In baptism we, the dead, are joined with Christ into His death. Then, being united with Him together in this death and burial, just as Christ arose from the dead, so too, He brings us up, still unified as one, with Him to resurrected life.
Those that have been misled into thinking baptism is a “work” and one only need say a prayer to be saved, must realize that baptism is no more a “work” than is saying the “sinner’s prayer” or “praying Jesus into your heart.” Furthermore, it must be clarified what is meant by the term, “work”. And we must define the phrase-- “not saved by works” if we are going to debate it. Few would argue the work of the cross saves us. However, no work of ourselves can save us. Only the work of God can do that. So in the argument –“we are not saved by works…” it must be clarified that what is really meant is-- “we are not saved by works of ourselves”. But the Word of God does not ascribe baptism to that as being a work of man. The Scriptures credit baptism to that as being the work of God. Accordingly, we ARE saved by works—it’s just that the “work” isn’t ours; It’s the work of God! Colossians 2:12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Aren’t we saved by Faith Alone? — asked and answered in 1840 Martin Luther himself was often misunderstood and misrepresented by critics of baptism who oppose the very Word of God they claim to uphold. Yet he clarified in his writings exactly what he taught: “For to be baptized in the name of God, is to be baptized not by men but by God Himself. Therefore although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work…” “…But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?
Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith clings and is bound though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, which is, to the water comprehended in God's ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism. In the third place since we have learned the great benefit and power of Baptism, let us see what Baptism gives and profits to the person who receives it. This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart. Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He that believeth) affects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. It is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything. But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God's (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper's baptism). God's works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended…” “…Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.” Submerging beneath the surface of water and getting wet is not a “work”. The “work” that is done in baptism is done by God, not by man. The “work” that is done in baptism is the removal of the stain of sin from a person’s soul for all eternity. The “work” that is done in baptism is the transference of a sinner from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The “work” that is done in baptism is God taking a dead man and making him alive! The “work” that is done in baptism is God taking the unrighteous and declaring them righteous. The “work” that is done in baptism is God clothing the sinner with the righteousness of Jesus. The “work” that is done in baptism is God uniting together man’s spirit with Christ’s. And this could NEVER, EVER be accomplished by man! The miracle that happens in baptism is not anything man does. It is something God Himself does through His Son, Jesus Christ. Again, baptism is not our work, it is His! In speaking about marriage, Jesus said, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate." –Matthew 19:6 The participants of the wedding ceremony are no more credited with joining the man and the woman together than are participants of baptism. God does not give such credit to
mere servants for this union, but reserves that honor for Himself--and rightly so. Jesus sees marriage as something God does, not man. And so it is with baptism. Just as the Lord tells us it is God Himself who is the one who does the joining in marriage, so too, baptism is viewed in the same way. It is God who joins us with Christ in baptism. This is a divine miracle and something infinitely beyond human capability. In a similar sense, as a man and a woman becoming united, we become united with Christ in the waters of baptism. And in all of this, it is God who does the joining. It is God who makes the two become one. That is how it is not only in marriage, but in baptism as well. Just as marriage is a spiritual union between a man and a woman that God gets the credit for, so too, baptism is a spiritual union (between Christ and man) that God gets the credit for because it is God who does the joining. Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of His body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. And Christ frequently portrayed Himself as the Bridegroom. In the book of Revelation, the church is portrayed as the bride. This indeed, is profound. Key Point to Remember: The Epistles (letters) are written to Christians, i.e., people who have already been baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-5, 1Cor 12:13). The Epistles contain instructions to Christians and give instructions on how to remain in Christ and grow in Christ. The book of Acts gives examples of people who are not Christians becoming Christians. This is a great mistake many people make. They take instructions in the epistles on faith and apply them to conversion. But these verses do not relate to conversion, but to the converted. Once a person has been baptized into Christ, all the passages about faith and grace then applies. In other words, once a person has been baptized into Christ, it can be said their faith is what continues to maintain their salvation.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the iches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. – Ephesians 1:7-8. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 8:1. 23
7. Witnessing in Christ This brief study of Colossians 3 and Ephesians 6 focuses on the important principles for strengthening family relationships, with suggestions for practical application. 1. The True Test: The true test of Christianity isn't in the Church but in the home. It isn't how saintly or godly you can act in the church; it's how your Christianity works in practical, everyday, living situations. Our Christian experience should find its expression within our home relationships. But, we must confess at the outset, the application of Christian principles isn't easy. We can attest to the truth and acknowledge and desire what is right, but the difficulty arises in putting it into practice. The blending of two lives into one is never a smooth operation. There are always those difficulties that arise. In reality, there is no easy road. A successful, happy relationship takes a lot of work. The blending of two lives into one is a difficult experience. Paul was very wise in couching his remarks by saying, "Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfect ness" (Colossians 3:14). It is only through the love of God working in and through our lives - and our yielding to that love - that we can ever come to a successful, happy blending of our two lives into one. 3 Spiritual regenerate will be strong in faith and many actively participate in evangelism. They have great zeal for God and His kingdom, yet the light of the gospel has not been touching others in the families of these Disciples of Christ. One would surely expect and hope that when one Hindu turned to Christ there would be an ongoing impact in Hindu families and communities, with more and more people being touched by the love of Christ. Only in few cases had any other immediate family member been led to Christ by one of these fifty ardent disciples of Jesus. Rather than the gospel spreading as a leaven in Hindu society, the common pattern is the extraction of disciples and the negating of any hope for positive influence on family and community. The reasons for the failure to effectively present Christ to relatives are not hard to identify. All will be members of a local church. Since they identify themselves as/with Christians and live like Christians they are outside of the Hindu community. Had these people remained in their own Hindu communities and still lived as witnesses to the love and power of Christ they could surely have brought many people to Christ. Now they do not have much contact with Hindus and hence fewer chances to be shining lights to show the way to others. Hindu Christ bhaktas can witness more effectively to Hindus than Christians can. The second generations from the converts are still more deeply rooted in the Christian community through intermarriage and church membership. They tend to lose the zeal which their parents have to help others come to Christ, unless it is through traditional church activities and work among Dalits. This problem is most strikingly illustrated in the elderly people. They get absorbed into Christian society and have lost contact with their relatives. The elderly believers have not been able to influence their relatives for Christ, and their descendants are no longer in a position of intimate contact with Hindus. 12 2. The Real and the Ideal: The "ideal" me is the way I see myself. The "real" me is the way others see me. Quite often these viewpoints are far apart. It's hard for me to know the real truth about myself and, as a result, I'm unwilling or reluctant to accept responsibility or blame for any problems that may exist within the home. If the difference between the real you and the ideal you is slight, then you're supposedly a well-adjusted person otherwise a neurotic. "It really isn't my fault!" As Adam said, "Lord, the woman that thou gavest to be with me" (Genesis 3:12). We're always looking for the other one to change for we do not see the need to change ourselves. In every situation there needs to be changes on both parts.
3. Understanding the Difference: The Bible says, "Male and female created He them" (Genesis 1:27). When God first created man, God recognized that man by himself was not complete. Man by himself can never be complete. God said, "It is not good that the man should live alone" (Genesis 2:18). God created the woman so that through her the man might find and have completeness, companionship, love - that which he could not get from the animal kingdom. Adam dwelt among the animal kingdom but God didn't find among them any help that was suitable for him. God created the woman in order that she might be that completeness for man. In creating woman God created her different from man in (1) Physical structure - the man being the stronger and larger, the woman being the smaller and frailer. (2) Emotional realm - He created the woman with a higher sensitivity than the man. Emotionally, man is usually very coarse. His emotions move in a narrower spectrum. A woman's emotional spectrum is quite wide. She's capable of great highs; she's capable of great lows. Yes, a man can get excited and a man can get depressed. But, as a general rule, he cannot appreciate as much as a woman or enjoy as much as a woman. Men don't have the extreme highs that women can attain. (3) Intelligence - there's any difference at all between male or female. Women are capable of as great understanding and thinking process as men, they may even have a slight advantage over man in the area we call intuition. (4) Spiritually, of course, men and women are one in the eyes of God (Galatians 3:28). God set forth the rules of the relationship between husband and wife. By obeying these rules, man and woman can find the fulfillment, joy, and happiness from life that God desires them to have. 4. God's Rules of Order: Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). God set forth certain principles or rules in His wisdom, knowing how He had created us, knowing our capacities and capabilities, and knowing our needs. He set up His rules and said, "This is the way to joy, happiness, peace, love, and a rich life." Our problem is that we don't always agree in practice with what God has said. We may agree in principle. But we soon get to that place of divergence between the principle and the application. So, if you ask me whether I believe the Bible - yes. Do I always practice what the Bible espouses - no? And whenever I violate one of the rules, I'm the one who suffers. God's rules are really the rules of happiness. They are the rules of success. David said, "Blessed (how happy) is the man... (Whose) delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not whither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalms 1:1-3). Moses told Joshua to take the law of the Lord and meditate in it day and night, "for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8). As I look at the rules God has set forth, I may say, "I could never be happy doing that." I may argue in my heart with the rules of God. But, in reality, I'll never be happy until I obey them. The world is filled today with frustrated people. They have that sense of life-is-passing-me-by. "There must be more to life than this!" Thus, there's that quest and search for fulfillment, for satisfaction, for something to take care of this crazy yearning within. This is a result from arguing with the rules that God has set up, and by trying to find happiness and peace apart from obedience to the command of God. God has set up a certain order. You may argue with it, you may debate it, you may violate it. But you'll never find real peace, happiness, and joy until you submit to it. 5. The Christian Ethic: The first point that we notice about the Christian ethic is that it declares a reciprocal obligation. Under the ethics of the Greek philosophies, the Roman culture, and even the Jewish culture, there was no reciprocal obligation. The husband was the absolute master and the wife was a chattel. She had no rights.
The Christian ethic not only tells the wife's obligation to the husband, but the husband's obligation to the wife. Under the other ethics there was no obligation of the husband to the wife. The Christian ethic not only lists the child's obligation to the parent, but it lists the parent's obligation to the child. The Christian ethic not only defines the servant's relationship to the master, but the master's relationship and obligation to the servant. We need to realize that the cause and effect consequence of spiritual laws is as certain as that of physical laws. If you violate the physical law of gravity by jumping off a high roof, you're going to suffer. Likewise, if you violate the spiritual laws that govern your relationships, you're bound to suffer. The Greeks used to say, "The dice of the gods are loaded." By this they meant that you couldn't win against God. His Word is sure. 6. Submission and Love: Women should be extremely thankful for Jesus Christ and Christianity, for before the advent of Christianity the woman's lot was barely above that of a slave's. Christianity has done much for women. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul starts with the women. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord" (Colossians 3:18). We've heard women say, "I've heard so much about submission that I'm sick of it." Many times by talking enough about something we can relieve ourselves of the obligation to do a certain thing. We can talk very glibly and skillfully about the need for a woman's submission to her husband. The wives can get together and share how "we ought to be submitted." But by talking about it they can free themselves from the actual obligation of doing it. There is one place in the Scripture where the wife led the husband. That was back in the Garden of Eden, and we've been in trouble ever since. God's rule is that the husband be the head of the house and the wife submit unto the husband. Naturally, there is an order involved. In this true order the husband is to be submitted unto Christ, even as Christ willingly submitted Himself unto the Father. As a husband is submitted to Christ and the wife is submitted to the husband, the wife in reality is submitted to Christ through the husband. 7. Ungodly Demands: The Scripture doesn’t require a wife to submit to ungodly demands of a husband. It is sheer stupidity to say that no matter what the husband says, you're to submit to it because you're the wife. Some teach this concept, saying that the Lord will keep you safe from any dire consequence if you submit. Paul said, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). In I Corinthians Paul lays out the whole chain of command. The husband is, actually, the authority over the wife, Christ is the head over the husband, and God is the authority over Christ (I Corinthians 11:3). If this chain of command is broken anywhere along the line, God's order is gone. The husband is the head over the wife only as Christ is the head over the husband. If Christ is not the head over the husband, then the wife should be in submission to Christ first. She skips over the broken link. Peter said to the Sanhedrin, "We ought (Greek imperative, must) obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). That applies to the relationship in the home if the husband is making ungodly demands upon his wife. First of all, a woman should be more careful concerning the man whom she marries. Determine whether or not he is the kind of person to whom you could submit before you marry him. If you doubt his judgment and think that he's so dumb now, why did you marry him in the first place? Maybe the Jewish culture was correct in arranging marriages. The Jews said that a decision as important as marriage should never be left to the capricious emotions of a teen-ager. Let us admit that many marriages ought not to be. Yet, in the divine order of things, God's rule is "Wives, submit unto your own husbands." If you have a godly husband, one who loves the Lord and is seeking the Lord, how glorious that is! How much easier that makes your position of submitting unto him. A husband was in a bar one night with some buddies. As the bar closed up he made a wager with them. He bet that, if they all went to his house, he could order his wife to wake up and fix them a dinner - and she'd do it without grumbling or griping but smiling the whole time. The guys took him upon his bet.
So, they staggered into his house past 2 a.m. He went in and told his wife to get out of bed and fix them a meal. She came out with a smile, went to the kitchen without any complaining, and prepared the food. Then she placed it on the table, smiling very cheerfully the whole while. His buddies couldn't believe it. As they paid off their bet, they complimented her. "We had a bet with your husband that you wouldn't make a dinner. We lost, but this is worth seeing! How can you be so pleasant under such adverse circumstances?" She said, "I'm a Christian. I love the Lord. I know that my stay here isn't going to be very long, and I'm looking forward to being with my Lord and the joys of dwelling with Him in heaven. "My husband isn't a Christian. His future is so black that I thought I'd make it as happy for him as I could while he's still here." The husband became so convicted that within a week he accepted the Lord. When God commanded the wife to be in submission to her husband, He knew all about this male macho image. He knew that man by nature wants to feel that he is capable of handling the issues. He wants to feel that he is trusted for his strength and ability. There is nothing that makes him feel better than for his wife to say, "Honey, you do what you feel is right because I trust you because you are the smartest man in the world." Arno Pederson told an interesting story of the beginning of the Pederson baby furniture company. It happened back in the thirties when they decided to drive from their home in Burbank to the World's Fair being held that year in San Francisco. As the car was fully packed and they were ready to leave, Mrs. Pederson said, "Arno, we don't have the baby's stroller." He answered, "There is no room for it." She said, "We must take it, we cannot possibly go to the fair without it." So he tied it to the top of the car and headed for the fair. A few miles up the road she said, "Arno, you are the cleverest man in the world, surely you could design a stroller that would fold up so you could put it in the trunk of the car." When they returned from the fair he began working nights in his garage to build a fold up stroller. When he completed it all of the neighbors wanted one also and that was beginning of the fold up strollers and the Pederson furniture company. He said that he couldn't let his wife down and though he knew he was not the smartest man in the world he wanted his wife to continue to believe that. 8. Drawing Closer Together: It is said that marriage is a 50-50 proposition. It’s difficult to believe that marriage is a 100-100 proposition. If you only give 50 percent to it, you'll never make it. Both sides have to give 100 percent in order to have a really happy, successful marriage. God's divine order is that the husband be the head of the house and the wife submit to the husband as is fit in the Lord. The Christian ethic introduced the reciprocal obligation. Under the Christian ethic it declares, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (harsh with them)" (Colossians 3:19). In the Greek or Roman ethic a husband didn't need to love his wife. In fact, according to the Greek philosophers, every man was supposed to have a mistress or concubine for his pleasure and a wife to bear his legitimate children. But the Christian ethic says, "Husbands, love your wives." This word for "love" is the word agape, which is a giving, self-sacrificing love. Agape is that love that God has for us when He so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). This is the kind of love that a husband is to have for his wife. In Ephesians Paul made it a little stronger: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). When God gave this command to the husbands, He knew all about the emotional needs of a woman. One of her greatest needs is the security from the knowledge that she is loved supremely by her husband. That she is number one and that he has no eyes or desires for any other woman. There is something about her nature that requires constant affirming of these facts both verbally and by actions. Husbands often hear the words, "Does my hair look all right?" "Is this dress O.K.?" "How do I look?" She wants to hear, "Darling, you're gorgeous, you're a dream, you are the most beautiful woman in the world, and I love you." Fellows, when will we wise up?
Now, we sometimes get off on the wrong foot in our relationships. We actually begin to work against one another. Many times, rather than submitting to her husband, a wife is rebellious - arguing against every decision he makes, rebelling against his authority, and challenging his wisdom and judgment. This, in a sense, destroys the husband's male ego. Thus, he responds and reacts to this by asserting his male ego and becoming cold and aloof. The more aloof the husband becomes, the more the wife rebels against his authority. The more she rebels against his authority. The more aloof he becomes. Soon, every situation is pushing them further and further apart. Any decision he makes is challenged or rejected by her. Every decision brings on this big explosion, this big argument, this big division. Because of this, the man has a reluctance and unwillingness to demonstrate a love for his wife. Very possibly, at this point he may not even have a love for his wife. He feels totally cold. The wife feels no security whatsoever, for security comes with love. Because she lacks a sense of security, she thinks, "How can I submit to him? I don't even know if he's concerned about me. He's just thinking of himself." Now, if you can reverse the process, it draws the man and wife closer and closer together. The more a husband shows and demonstrates his love to his wife, the more secure she feels and becomes. The more secure she becomes in his love for her, the more readily she can submit unto his authority and his decisions. The more she submits, the more he feels free to show his love for her. So, you need to get the process working in the right direction. Unfortunately, in too many marriages the process is driving a couple apart rather than drawing them together. But which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Who gives in first? Does he demonstrate love first? Does she submit first? Usually, a husband will say: "I tried. I demonstrated love." But she thought, "I've got you! I'm going to insist on my own way now!" The husband is afraid the wife will take advantage of the situation. On the other hand, the wife will say, "I submitted to him and he did the dumbest thing! So stupid!" Where's it going to break? It's going to break in a divorce court someplace. You can actually keep driving yourself further and further from your mate by not being willing to yield, or to show love. Ideally, the problem should be faced with both of you on your knees confessing before the Lord your failure to obey and follow His law - the wife confessing her failure of obedience in submitting to her husband as is fit in the Lord, and the husband confessing both his failure to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and his bitterness or his harshness towards her. Then the husband and wife must seek through the help of the Holy Spirit to follow the scriptural pattern. "God, help me to show her that kind of love in which she can feel secure so that she can submit." "God, help me not to argue, not to speak up when I think he's doing something that's dumb, but to keep my mouth shut and to go along with it - knowing that, even if we lose everything, we've still got each other, this love and You. That's all we need, Lord. Help me to be in submission unto him and his authority." 9. The Power of Obedience: The next relationship on Paul's list is that of the child to the parents. "Children, obey your parents" (Colossians 3:20). Under the law of God the children were commanded to honor their parents - to show respect and to be obedient unto their parents. Paul said, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother that your days should be long upon the earth; this is the first commandment with promise" (Ephesians 6:1). Many of the promises of God are conditional. This promise of long life is conditioned upon honoring your father and your mother. Under the law, if a child didn't honor his parents or didn't respect them, they could
take him before the elders of the city and say, "I have a stubborn, rebellious child. He's a glutton and a winedrinker." The child would then be stoned to death. His days would not be so long upon the earth! 10. The Child's Former Lot: At the time Paul was writing the epistle to the Ephesians, the Roman Empire had very little regard for children. The father was the absolute authority within the home for as long as he lived. If you were 50 years old and your father was alive, you would have been still in subjection to him. The father had the absolute rights over his children, even to their life and death. He could put them to death if he so desired. He could sell them as slaves. He could do whatever he wished with his children. A letter was found which was typical of this absolute control. A husband had gone to Alexandria to engage in commerce. He wrote very lovingly to his wife. He talked to her concerning the child that she was expecting, apologizing for the fact that he had been delayed in Alexandria and wouldn't be home for the birth. He wrote, "If it's a boy, keep it. If it's a girl, throw it out." Many children were thrown out. Almost every evening in the Forum, Romans would abandon the children that they didn't want. In the morning others would come by and pick up these children and raise them to sell as slaves. People had very small regard for children. It was not uncommon to just throw an unwanted child away. Prior to the Roman rule, in some of the earlier periods in the land of Canaan where God brought the children of Israel, sacrifice of babies was not at all uncommon. In many of the homes uncovered by archaeologists, jars with infants' skeletons have been found embedded in the structures. It was a sign of good fortune and a good omen to place your baby in a jar and make it part of the wall when building the house. Infant sacrifice was a common practice. Christianity has done much for children. It has caused us to honor and respect life and it has taught us to love. You may think it natural and instinctive to love your children, but there are non-Christian cultures which display no love for a child. Children are considered a burden, an obligation, and a responsibility. In the midst of this Roman concept, Paul writes, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). In II Timothy 3:1 Paul told us, "In the last days perilous times shall come." One of the signs of the perils of the last days is that children would be disobedient to parents (3:2). In his letter to the Romans Paul is telling us of the decayed, corrupt condition of the heathen world - a world that has given over by God to a reprobate mind, given up by God to uncleanness. As Paul lists the horrible conditions of a depraved world, he writes of disobedience to parents as a sign of moral decay (Romans 1:30). 11. Towards Parents: There are some demands made by parents which would violate a person's Christian conscience to obey. A child is not obligated to obey an ungodly demand of a parent. There are some parents undeserving of the title of father or mother - who would lead their children into all kinds of ungodly practices. What happens in cases where moral issues are not involved? For instance, "I want to go to church tonight" and my parents said, "No, you'd better do your homework," In that case you'd better do your homework. There's no moral issue involved. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." How beautiful to have godly parents! Your father could be an alcoholic and your mother a prostitute. They could have deserted you from the time you were one-year-old. You could have lived off the street - and still be a fantastic, powerful child of God. You can rise above any environmental background. You can't go on blaming others for what you are, you can't say, "I've had a horrible background! I've had such a horrible life at home! I can't be anything else but my mean, miserable, cantankerous self. I am what I am because of them!" You can't spend your whole life excusing your rotten, nasty attitude and disposition on your early childhood. Through the power of the Holy Spirit you can rise above any type of environmental background that you may have experienced. We've seen it done over and over again. When Jesus Christ deals with you, He can change completely and make you a new creature. You don't have to relate back to your "Irish temper." The new nature is now yours through Jesus Christ.
One of the beautiful witnesses that we have the opportunity to observe is the dramatic change in the lives of many young people accepting Jesus Christ. This has so changed their attitude at home with their parents, that the parents, in turn, have become interested in what caused their child Johnny to experience such a radical change in his life. As a result, many parents have come to experience a new life in Christ. God has created many new Christian families as a consequence of the changed attitude of the young people who have gone back home. Parents have been able to see the difference that Jesus Christ can make. 12. For Parents: The Christian ethic isn't only "Children, obey your parents" but "Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged" (Colossians 3:21). Parents should be open and reasonable with their children. If we're constantly accusing children falsely and being hasty in our judgment concerning them, that's very discouraging to them. Constantly suppressing a child because of possible dangers can discourage him. A parent you need to exercise prudence, judgment, and wisdom. A child can be discouraged by giving him a test of character that is inappropriate for his age. Holding a child under heavy judgment for something they did not really understand discourages them. We discourage children by sometimes holding them away from the things of the Lord when they desire them. We say, "You're too young. You don't understand yet." Jesus said, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it" (Mark 10:15). "Fathers [the Greek reads "Fathers and mothers"], provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). One of the most tragic scenes observed is a parent who needles or teases the child until he's driven to frustration and distraction. We've seen parents do it with small children - holding out a bottle, then pulling it away as the child reaches for it, then laughing they hold it out to withdraw it again. The little child is teased until he doesn't know what to do, and the parent seems to receive some amusement in seeing the child totally distraught. That's one of the cruelest things that a parent can do. Bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. Solomon said, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). It is our responsibility as parents to take time to teach, to train, and to bring up our children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. 13. Discipline: By nature we are sinners. David said, "They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies" (Psalms 58:3). He recognized the perversity of his own human nature. There is a psychology or, more aptly, a philosophy of permissiveness. "Let them do what they want to do. Don't restrain them. Let them freely express themselves." Dr. Spock in this philosophy has done a great disservice to our nation. A child left to his natural bent is not innately good but is innately evil and sinful. The Scriptures say that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). The word "discipline" (translated "nurture" in Ephesians 6:4) carries the connotation of discipline with punishment. It's a difficult task to train your children. It takes time. It's easier just to let them do things rather than to stop them. But the Scripture also says, "A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame" (Proverbs 29:15). It is vitally important in the discipline of our children that there always be a great consciousness in their hearts of our love for them, that they be secure in that love, and that, when they are disciplined, they never doubt that love. Every child is a natural psychologist and when he's spanked often says, "Nobody loves me anymore! You hate me! You don't love me!" We hate to hear such accusations from our children. The Bible however says, "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." In Proverbs we are told that, "He that spares his rod, hates his son." We sometimes become slack or forebear punishment or discipline. In doing so we are harming and hurting the child; for, when he knows that he's done wrong, one of the best ways to be relieved of that guilt complex is to be punished. Many children have psychological problems today. They are carrying around with them guilt complexes which have never been relieved by their permissive parents.
14. The Word: As parents we need to be careful never to punish our children in anger, because then we're prone to over-punish the child. Paul wrote to Timothy, "From a child you've known the holy scriptures" (II Timothy 3:15). Timothy had been trained; he'd been disciplined in the Word of God. What a blessing! Children will not naturally gravitate towards good. You have to teach them the value of goodness, honesty, and moral integrity. You don't have to teach your child to cheat. They do that naturally. You have to teach them not to cheat. You never have to worry about teaching your child how to lie. They do that naturally. You have to teach them that they must always tell the truth. There's a natural bent towards the sinful nature. Children must be trained. They must be disciplined. You must bring up children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. But when you do, you may go through some years of trial when, in that intermediate stage, they move from their parents' faith to the discovery of their own faith. You may go through some shaky years as they're getting out and trying their wings, but you always have the confidence that they'll return to the God of their early years and early training. So, don't panic. Know that the Lord is going to bring them back to Himself if you've been faithful in your training, and you'll be rewarded in seeing their salvation. 15. Employer / Employees: "Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God" (Colossians 3:22). It’s believed that you should be the most productive employee on your job as a witness for Jesus Christ. It’s believed that you should be honest and upright. You shouldn't spend much time visiting, even witnessing, on the job. You should give the job your fair share of labor and work. You can and should witness during the breaks and lunch hours. But it's not a good witness to your employer if you're always witnessing to your co-worker when you should be working. Your employer is watching you and can see you're keeping the fellow next to you from working. That's a bad witness for Christ. That's almost the same as stealing from your employer. It’s feeling that as an employee you should be extremely diligent. You should be a hard worker. You should seek to be the most profitable employee as a witness for Jesus Christ. Not with eye service, not as a man-pleaser, but doing it as unto the Lord. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance [the true reward]" (Colossians 3:23, 24). "Masters, give unto your servants that which are just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven" (Colossians 4:1). The Bible has done a great deal for the laboring man. God is for the laboring man. God speaks out against unjust wages more than once. God says, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you." The rich have actually defrauded and held back wages, and now their silver and gold are corrupted (James 5:1-4). God speaks against withholding a proper wage and salary. It’s believed the employer is obligated to give his employees a just and fair salary, but employees ought to earn it, too. "Knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." You must always remember that there is one final Judge by whom we will all be judged. That is in God.3
8. Affirmations and Conclusions Four factors seem to be involved in the conversion of persons from one literate religious tradition to another. The first involves the investment persons or groups have in their present status within the caste system. Lower castes often see conversion as a means of raising their caste status while higher castes may be concerned with maintaining the status quo. The second factor, closely related, is the accessibility of persons or groups to the written scriptures. Those with no or limited accessibility are more likely to deviate from the written norm and at the same time be more attracted to another tradition which will give them such access. The third factor involves the flexibility of the system from which conversion is occurring and its ability to tolerate such changes. In Hinduism this is fairly high while in Christianity it remains low. While converts from Hinduism might be easily obtained they are for this same reason, difficult to consolidate. The fourth factor that proved particularly important is the flexibility of the religion to which conversion is occurring. This involves the ability of the new religion to affirm the religious heritage of the old one. Christianity has been accepted only among the disaffected within Hindu villages and the eventual consolidation of the Christian community appears inevitable.1 It has been seen how the shifting material conditions and identities as well as the evolution and changes in society to emphasize the conversions. The process associated with conversions, given its complexities, was far from being a one-way affair. As discussed, it was based on inter-actions, and saw the adivasis/outcastes themselves being involved with a desire to both contest and get incorporated into the order of caste. An allied feature was the development of popular cults and Christianity that emerged to challenge brahminical Hinduism, with the shift to Christianity gathering momentum after the retreat of colonialism. Taken together these features demonstrate aspects of selectivity associated with the adivasis and outcastes. This paper ends with the present context and refers to the politics of difference that marks the region since the 1990s. It emphasizes how this poses a serious threat to the very existence of civil society. 7 The results of regeneration will be the expression of God's character in the behavior of man. God's intent in the reinvestiture of His life in man through the work of His Son Jesus Christ was that man might function as God had originally intended by allowing the life and character of God to be expressed in man's behavior to the glory of God. Only when the life of God is "brought into being again" by spiritual regeneration in man, is the divine dynamic present in man whereby He might derive from God and express godly character. Regeneration is necessary if man is to be man as God intended man to be.2 We have briefly looked at the human relationships that pertain to the particular role that we have in life as an employer, as a father, as a husband, as a wife, as a mother, as a child, or as an employee or an employer. What is the scriptural position? How should we fulfill our role? God help us. For, as we realize we have an obligation to God as His servant, we have obligations to you as the family of God in the position that He has given me as the shepherd of the flock, and we realize my obligation to my wife and children, and we try to balance and fulfill all these obligations and their incumbent pressures - there's no way we can do it! As Paul said, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (II Corinthians 2:16). But, with Paul, we thank God that our sufficiency is not of ourselves. Our sufficiency is of Christ. We learn to turn to Him for His help, guidance, and strength in all things.3 Missions were the van of Europe's expansion. Once their bridgeheads were established, the presence and teaching of missionaries ridiculed indigenous beliefs, called customs into question, undermined selfconfidence, eroded respect for traditional authorities, and consequently stimulated political or social conflict. . . . Missionaries were thus prime agents of an intrusive "cultural imperialism. Neill . . . found the relativism of the modern world a disturbing feature. Questions of truth were at issue and truth must be necessarily exclusive and intolerant of alternatives.24 The most fundamental stumbling blocks for the gospel in India are social, related to the community identity which is so strong for each individual. The abandoning of Hindu community and alignment with Christian community is far more offensive to Hindu families than any doctrinal teaching found in the Bible. “Conversion” and church membership almost inevitably lead new Disciples of Christ to distance
themselves from their families. Marriage outside accepted family parameters deals an almost irreparable blow to family relationships. “Converts”, instead of coming out of the family and community, should stay within the family to show the love of Christ. It must be noted that in the general understanding of Indian society, “conversion” IS this transfer of community allegiance. Disciples of Christ must learn to teach a spiritual “conversion” that does not involve this communal change. The disciple of Christ who identifies as a Christ bhakta rather than as a Christian, and stays within his or her community, should reject the label of “convert”. And all Christian communicators should learn to desist from practicing communal “conversion” and thus also cease using “conversion” terminology. Unless “converts” (new disciples of Jesus) stay within their family and community they cannot spread the love of Christ and bring their relatives to Christ. This staying within the community is a greater challenge than to come out and join a church and enjoy the fellowship. It seems bringing them out of the family and thus removing the light so that others continue to live in darkness deceives converts. Christians are also preaching and teaching to “come out and be separate.” The church should reconsider the way it encourages converts as well as its expectations from the converts. Only if Hindus who come to Christ continue to be true in the social and cultural aspects of life, while living as Christ bhaktas within their Hindus communities, can they influence the vast majority of Hindus in our country. When sociological conversion is rejected and spiritual conversion is demonstrated within Hindu families and communities there is great hope for a significant turning of Hindus to the living Christ.12 To believe that Jesus had merely fainted on the cross, later walked out of the tomb and convinced His disciples that He had conquered death requires more “faith” than to believe that He actually rose from the dead. To believe the former requires that we believe that a man who had been brutally lashed on His back, whose head had been “crowned” with thorns, who had been nailed to a cross for three hours, in whose stomach a soldier’s spear had been thrust, who had suffered so much and bled so much that He had become unconscious, who had been put in a tomb which was sealed with a stone so heavy that it couldn’t be removed by three women and who had been hungry and thirsty for three days could walk out of the grave without being seen by the guards who were specially commissioned to see that His body wasn’t stolen. Not only did He get out of the grave, but this man who desperately needed first aid walked at least two miles into the city without being seen by anyone and convinced His disciples that He had conquered death and not merely escaped it. His disciples became so sure that He had risen from the dead that they ceased to be afraid of death anymore; instead they went all over the world to proclaim this good news at the cost of unparalleled persecution, torture and death. And what was the good news that they proclaimed? They declared that God exists and that He loves us and has revealed Himself to us, that He has taken our sin upon Himself and suffered in our place and that we can, through repentance and faith in Him, receive forgiveness of sin and be reconciled with Him. Also, that He offers the gift of the Holy Spirit and that of everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven, which He is establishing and is going to reveal at the end of the age. His disciples went forth proclaiming that God, who had come as a human guru, who had died for our sins, is risen again and is alive forevermore. Anyone, at any time and at any place, can receive Him as guru, obtain the free gift of salvation and live in an eternal love relationship with Him. I myself am a devotee (bhakta) of (Lord) Jesus Christ. Why? Because the teachings of Jesus Christ alone make sense to me. I believe that the revelation, the philosophy, the worldview and the map of reality given by Christ alone stand up to the test of reason. They alone can be held with total intellectual integrity. I have found Him to be a true guru. He has been my friend, my comforter, my guide, my protector and my provider-one who dwells in me and one whom I can turn at any time for help, love ,joy ,peace and power. Finally, I believe (Lord) Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6) alone can fulfill our spiritual and cultural aspirations. 25 Styam Mava Jayatha (The Truth Triumphs Always)!
References Susan Maneck, “Conversion Movements within Hindu Village Culture”, http://bahai-library.org/unpubl.articles/hindu.conversion.html 2. James A Fowler, “Man as God Intended", http://www.christinyou.net/pages/manasgod.html 3. Chuck Smith, “Christian Family Relationships”, http://www3.calvarychapel.com/library/smith-chuck/books/cfr.htm 4. Sebastian C. H. Kim, “In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India”, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003. 5. Dyron B. Daughrity, “A Brief History of Missions in Tirunelveli (Part One): From the Beginnings to its Creation as a Diocese in 1896”, http://www.missionstudies.org/conference/1papers/fp/Dyron_Daughrity_Tirunelveli.pdf 6. M. K. Gandhi, “An Autobiography or The story of my experiments with truth”, Translated from The Gujarati by Mahadevi Desai, http://www.scribd.com/doc/2520260/Mahatma-Gandhi-Autobiography 7. Dr Biswamoy Pati, “Identity Hegemony Resistance: Conversions in Orissa, 18002000”, http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/asiaResearchCentre/pdf/WorkingPaper/ARCWP7Biswam oyPati.pdf 8. Sandy Martin and Sita Ram Goel, “Hindus vis-à-vis Jesus”, http://hamsa.org/append4.htm 9. Roger E. Hedlund, “The Witness of New Christian Movements in India”, http://www.missionstudies.org/conference/1papers/fp/Roger_Hedlund_Full_Paper.pdf 10. Joseph R Farinaccio, “Faith With Reason: Why Christianity Is True”, http://www.religioustolerance.org/faith_with_reason.pdf 11. http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html 12. P Kannan and S Kannan, “A Survey of Disciples of Christ from Non-Dalit Hindu Homes, International Journal of Frontier Missions”, 2001, pages 165-169. 13. http://www.icwhp.org/ramabai.htm 14. http://www.brotherbakhtsingh.org 15. http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/nl002.htm 16. Rabi R. Maharaj, “Death of a Guru”, Om Books, www.ombooks.org, 1977, 1984, pages 129-130. 17. http://www.bibleviews.com 18. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/sve-03.html 19. http://www.contenderministries.org/articles/christianliving/stumblingblock.php 20. Chris Jackson, “The Black Christian Singles Guide to Dating and Sexuality”, Zondervan, 1999, pages 13-24. 21. http://www.gbod.org/stewardship/article.asp?id=11621 22. Charles Borges, “The Changing Faces of Christianity in Goa: From being Portuguese to Being Indian?” , http://www.lusotopie.sciencespobordeaux.fr/borges.pdf 23. www.BeBaptized.org 24. Dyron B. Daughrity, “Researching Bishop Stephen Neill: Engaging History, Methods, and the Reconstruction”, http://www.martynmission.cam.ac.uk/CDaurighty.htm 25. Vishal Mangalwadi, “The World of Gurus”, GLS Publising, www.glsindia.com, 1987, 2006, pages 231-232. 1.
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