Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 29, 2010
For anyone concerned,
I was writing this due to how it has been on my mind of late that very often we’re concerned with being a neighbor to others so long as its a neighbor we approve of…and in our mind, meets our standard of what a neighbor means.
Yeshua, who loved the Torah, also made clear that being focused on trying to keep all the commandments perfectly does not mean anything if its seperated from a heart of love for one’s neighbor.
I’m reminded of what Christ noted with the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-35 when it came to what really mattered.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Its interesting to see how much of a difference was made when considering the issue of cleanliness and how in the above story the “righteous” avoided aiding a half-dead man, actually passeing by on the other side of the road. As they were in positions of Priest and Levite, it would be natural to considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean…and their avoidance of touching him/going to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him indicates that they were more concerned for their own “clean-ness” than they were for the very life of the man. Thee priests were indeed to become “defiled” by touching a dead body/blood itself and the wounded ( Numbers 19:10-12 Numbers 19 /Haggai 2:12-14 Haggai 2 , Leviticus 15:18-20 Leviticus 15 )—even though they could go through ritual purification. The status of remaining “clean” at all times was more important to them them getting “down” temporarily for the sake of embracing the greater priority of LOVE/aiding those who were hurting…
And at that point, it didn’t matter what one’s “distinctives” were as much as whether or not they had the heart of God.
That’s why I think it’s interesting that the hero of the story was one whom in the minds of the Jews would have been considered as not keeping “Torah” well enough anyhow. At the time Samaritans were frowned on and discriminated against by pure-blood Jews, not even considered second-class citizens but as dogs begging for crumbs. …
Concerning Samaritans, as to why they were so despised, there was a deep hatred that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews saw themselves as pure descendents of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a mixed race produced when THE Jews from the northern kingdom intermarried with other peoples imported from other nations by the King of Assyria after the exile in order to keep peace (II Kings 17:24). The Jews in the southern kingdom considered Samaratins to be “IMPURE”RACIALLY/refused to recieve help from, even during the rebuilding/return from EXILE. Thus the pure Jews hated this mixed race because they felt that their fellow Jews who had intermarried had betrayed their people/nation…….and the Samaratins had set up an alternate center for worship on Mount Gerizim to parallel the temple at Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed 150 YEARS earlie ( II Kings 17/, Ezra 4 , Nehemiah 2 , Nehemiah 4, etc).
As time went on, relations between the 2 groups got progressively worse, even into Jesus’s day..and hence, the reason why Jesus chose to have a Samaritan be the hero of his parable, as he would have been the person least suspected by a Jew to be worthy/capable of anything, Luke 10:27 )…..and moreover, the reason why JESUS HIMSELF WAS INTENTIONAL ABOUT MINISTERING TO Samaritans….like Jesus when he interacted with others like the Samaritan Woman (John 4 )—and going places that were often “forbidden” as with Samaritan territory ( Luke 9:51-53 / Luke 9 ). Similar actions got Jesus in trouble when it seemed he “broke the rules” on differing occassions and went against the “distinctives” of others who felt He was out of line. For he was often denounced by the Pharisees for what they thought were “Violations of the Law”/”Injustice”..and yet He was simply trying to do the job THEY were supposed to be doing anyway. That included situations such as the synagouge rulers tripping over Jesus healing on the Sabbath, in Luke 13:15-17 Luke 13 ….or the teachers of the law (alongside the Pharisees—who were more so popular among the people) tripping over Christ healing a man with a shriveled hand ( Luke 6:8-10 / Luke 6 ), the man with dropsy ( Luke 14:1-3 /Luke 14 ) and many others…..all examples/instances of the Lord seeking to be about the Lords buisiness in spreading His love and having others frustrated with that since in many cases they felt it was not supposed to be that simple..or easy.
Something else that’s interesting to consider, concerning the essentials Jesus noted often..
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
The “righteous” avoided aiding a half-dead man, actually passeing by on the other side of the road. Intriguing is the fact that THE ones striving to keep the “law” were each were more concerned with their “temple duties” with others…for if it had been a fellow priest on the road, the outcome would have been different. The responses of the priest—and, for that matter, the Levite–are truly some of the highlights of the story…..specifically as it relates to the implications for us since we in Christ have been made into priests ourselves/in many ways are as they were, ( 1 Peter 2:8-10 1 Peter 2).
With the parable of Luke 10:25-35/Luke 10:24-26 Luke 10 with the Good Samaritan, its also intriguing to consider the man who was left for half-dead. Generally, when people read it, they assume the man was a helpless innocent who didn’t “deserve” it. However, does anyone ever ask when it comes to the MAN that was helped by the Good Samaratan whether or not the man beaten on the road was a BAD MAN–or what his character was like? What if the man when he was in good shape would’ve probably been one who would’ve harmed the Samaritan himself if he saw him?
What if the robbers who came to him were trying to take him out because they owned him money–with him coming to kill them and they getting to him first because they knew how wild the brother was (as many are today)? Or, what if the man who got beat up took some money from the robbers for a bad business deal (i.e. his family desperately needed some money, so they “loaned” it to him for a favor later—to which the man refused when seeing what it was they’d ask of him)…and in failing to pay them back…or refusing to back down when they threatened to expose him, they took him out?
All of that is speculation of course. But the text doesn’t say one thing about the man’s mindset character—as it could have been anything….but most seem to automatically lean toward seeing the beat up dude as more “helpless/innocent” than warranted because naturally we want to help “good people”—-“clean” people, for another expression…rather than being open to being responsible for the bad/”*****” ones as well.
And what the scripture makes makes clear is that the man’s character was NOT a factor in whether or not responsibility was to be discussed. What mattered is that—-good or bad—your neighbor is anyone in need…….even if it’s enemies, whether it be Osama Ben Ladin…the PERSON convicted of Child Rape months ago…or your Co-Worker who gets on yo last nerve. What’s always of importance is the issue of who it is that is in need of HELP….and whether or not there’s someone who’ll show enough love to give it.
For a personal testimony, I did extensive work last year at a Urban Ministry in Atlanta known as “City of Refuge–Bringing Hope to those who Live on the Margin” —and for more info, one can go online and look up an article entitled “Bruce Deel – 180 Degrees on Compassion | :: TheOoze.TV :: Emerging Church Video Podcast… “ ( ). The ministry of “City of Refuge, Inc” is truly one of the greatest around EVER…..and it was such a joy being able to work there extensively with the kids, in the “180 Degrees” kitchen (where they taught others how to cook in a professional culinary program) and were very much for pouring out into the community….and amazing seeing the myriad of people we’d have to deal with on the block—from single mothers to prostitutes to drug-dealers/many various shades of “homeless” people and others in wild lifestyles.
Got to actually pray for/witness to a person hooked on crack on Valentines’s Day….with him being amazed that God would even consider loving him. The places many lived—from the projects invested with garbage/rats to having homes where the conditions were often unsanitary to the streets, for those homeless—to the food they ate that was often non-healthy, you saw people in REAL LIFE.
And yet LOVE made the difference. Eating what was given out of respect/concern….talking to them/hanging out. The amount of stories I’d hear from those who used to be hopeless on the streets and in the realm of being qualified by others as “not deserving of aid/help” and how someone looked past the flaws and showed compassion on them in such a way that they truly saw the love/mercy of Christ and it made the difference in them being solid disciples/aiding others today.
Many times, however, they’re ignored because they’re not apart of the “in-crowd…and often, aiding them is circumvented with other “godly responsibilities” we try to come up with. I’ve seen the same thing in myself often….as many times, I would rather read a good book then go around the corner and hang out at a neighbors watching a football game. Honestly, there are many times I would rather spend my time memorizing scripture then hanging out at the neighborhood block party establishing relationships and putting what I had read into practice…and thinking of myself as “good” because of it. Some would take it further in acting as if focusing on aiding others could only happen if they agreed with the camp you belonged to
But I digress….
Nothhing really matters whenever we lose sight of what Jesus said mattered in being a neighbor to another and disciples…
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:7-9 / Micah 6
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Faith and Deeds
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Ultimately, what matters is whether or not we love one another—and love truly does cover a multitude of sins/faults.
For a good video on the issue (as its concerning my side of the street in Urban communities), here’s a poem to consider:
Additionally, for a another instructional song on the issue, here’s something from one of the Messianic Jewish groups I’ve greatly enjoyed following..known as Hazakim.
Also, on a side note, I wanted to bring up the issue of how being a good neighbor in showing love goes beyond simple issues of charity and being in the trenches with others. For it can also involve addressing issues of justice that affect those around us.
I’m reminded of how often others say that feeding the poor and taking care of orphans is truly an act of real love for your neighbor…and yet, they’ll say that you’re foolish if you are concerned for your neighbor’s environment. It should be noted (IMHO) that winning souls in the time we’re here on this Earth for the age to come is what the Lord has called us to do. In doing that, there can be a grave danger in either choosing to get so involved in the affairs of this world that Jesus is nothing more than the tagline for what we do instead of the main purpose…or we end up focusing so much on Heaven that we forget about how to increase our witness through being ready for “every good work” (Matthew 5:13-17, Titus 3, 1 Peter 2:11-14, etc). And with the latter, it seems that’s often where many believers fall. If Heaven and making it there is all that matters, then one should simply preach the Gospel and once someone wishes to follow Jesus, they should hide away and wait to die. Of course, that’d be ludicrious…but that’s often what the preaching of others on Heaven/”This world will burn up” leads to. They end up having NO action whatsoever and forgetting that God called us to make a difference in the time we’re here…be it with the ending of Human Trafficking, the addressment of Child Pornagraphy, neglecting the poor, looking after widows and orphans or a host of other issues pertaining to social justice.
I’m reminded of what Dr.Martin Luther King noted when it came to the call to be like Good Samaritans (Luke 10:25-39) in our love for others/in service to God—for as he said best:
I think the Good Samaritan is a great individual. I of course, like and respect the Good Samaritan….but I don’t want to be a Good Samaritan….. I am tired of picking up people along the Jericho Road. I am tired of seeing people battered and bruised and bloody, injured and jumped on, along the Jericho Roads of life. This road is dangerous. I don’t want to pick up anyone else, along this Jericho Road; I want to fix… the Jericho Road. I want to pave the Jericho Road, add street lights to the Jericho Road; make the Jericho Road safe (for passage) by everybody….
In his speech, entitled “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence”, Brother Martin said the following for more clarification on the Good Samaritan issue:
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
And As Dr.King said best in another one of his speeches, specifically his “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech, delievered April 3, 1968 :
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base….
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.
Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.
But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
We’re all interconnected…and As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his sermon “Where Do We Go From Here”:
“All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. …We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific islander. We reach for a soap that is created by a European. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese or cocoa by a west African. Before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world….We are inevitably our brother’s keeper, because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
For one example of what Martin was saying, Generally, consider the issue of how much of the coffee we use cannot be gained through fair-trade (as even the best coffee comes at the expense of farmers not getting paid fairly for their work). There was a book I referenced earlier on the issue entitled ‘Everyday Justice” (by Judy Clawson) that did an excellent review on the matter… For more info, would suggest going online and looking up the article under the name of “Everyday Justice >>> Fair Trade Christmas” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/category/fair-trade/ ). Another documentary one could look up is entitled “Black Gold“, Codirected and coproduced by Nick and Marc Francis ( 78 min)—as it is a documentary on Ethiopian coffee farmers seeking a fair price for their efforts. “Buyer Be Fair” ( Written and directed by John de Graaf and about. 57 min ) is another one that goes in-depth on the issue…as its a documentary overview of fair-trade certification, and how it helps people and the environment.
Many coffee farmers are shortchanged for that product we use to no end here, be it with “Starbucks” or “Carribo Coffee”…with that leading to desperation and in turn, it leading to them getting involved extensively in growing cocaine for the drug game, which we then see the results of abroad and in our cities..trying to shut that aspect down but forgetting all of the ways it connects to things we never realize…………..one huge twisted eco-system.
Of course, this is similar to other realities of what happens with things like the child slavery in the manufacture of chocolate, as most of the chocolate we recieve today comes from that outlet…as many were illegally trafficked into these countries (meaning kidnapped and/or sold away from their families), while others were promised a “good” job that would help support their families…only to be cruelly surprised. All are working in deplorable conditions with little pay and frequent beatings. The same dynamics happen with other commodities beside that—-such as with the Diamonds we get from the stores, in example, for engagement rings and other usages that are often gotten at the expense of CHILDREN being brutally murdered in the “blood diamond” slave mines in Africa…
For another example of what how being a neighbor has more than one way it can be reflected, one can consider the Tomato industry. With the Tomato industry in general, the natural tomatoes that are truly delicious are not even really sold anymore–in favor of the colored ones (made artifically “Bright Red) that are genetically made/on demand……and many times, made en mass. In reading the book “Everyday Justice”, I was appalled to see that the demands we often put on produce creates conditions even in the U.S akin to what one would expect in the days of SLAVERY/plantations. On a roadtrip I took to Florida last June, we passed many farms…..and its still shocking to consider how many tomato farms we went by may’ve limited others to slave-like conditions, with no fair wages and inhumane treatement of workers when it comes to chemicals they have to work with without protection to produce the tomatoes we enjoy. The US government has repeatedly uncovered slavery rings among farms in Florida, and in 2008, five farm owners were prosecuted for beating tomato harvesters …with many cases of sexual harrassment on the women, who were migrant workers and forced into silence.
Taco Bell, which is one of the leading industries demanding tomatoes, was implicated in many cases for their working with these same farms—knowingly allowing it to continue as long as they got their produce on time. It was exposed recently..and only of late have they begun to try addressing the problem
For more info, one can go online and look up an article under the name of “Politics of the Plate: Florida’s Slave Trade” ( //www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2009/03/politics-of-the-plate-tomato-slaves-follow-up ). One can also go online/look up “A New Milestone for the CIW
” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/2009/10/06/a-new-milestone-for-the-ciw/ ) and Modern-Day Slavery Museum reveals cruelty in Florida fields ( //www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/modern-day-slavery-museum-reveals-cruelty-in-florida-fields/1081253 )
Amazing how we never stop to consider how even the very veggies we wanted on demand/got may not have come in a manner that God would deem “walking humbly and loving justice before the Lord” (Amos 5:14-16 and Micah 6:7-9 ).
As it concerns being a good neighbor with regards to the environment, somethign else to consider is the ways in which we use our oil. Most reading this (if they’re out there) may be aware of the BP Oil Spill that occurred this year.
The Oil Spill hurt people here in the states and people were scrambling to give aid to those who were damaged (i.e. food, housing, jobs, etc), yet most are not even aware of how trying to address that may be noble…but ultimately a bad solution in the long-term. For in the event that you did not know, BP has already done issues of great damage to the U.S. on our own soil before..with little coverage on it by the Media as with the GULF Coast. In example, With BP, I was amazed to learn that a BP refinery in nearby Indiana recieved an exemption on its new state water permit to by-pass federal … regarding the amount of mercury it could dump into Lake Michigan (over two pounds each year)–something EXTREMELY dangerous since mercury builds up over time in an envrironment and is so toxic that small amounts can harm or even kill fish…and people. It causes brain damage in fetuses if pregant mothers are exposed directly to the water or fish consusmed/eaten..and since Lake Michigan is a major draw for leisure activity like fishing /boating and swimming…providing MOST of the drinking water for Chicago area, one can imagine how people reacted.
For more info on the issue, one can go online/look up the following under their respective titles:
- –“EPA OK’s BP Pollution at Whiting, IN Refinery – Democratic Underground” ( //www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=151×6181 )
- –“BP dumps mercury in lake – chicagotribune.com” ( //www.chicagotribune.com/services/chi-mercury_27jul27,0,6726083.story )
Many were shocked to see the corruption and callous actions by the company that were allowed to occur….with it being calculated that if damage occured, then there’d be sensation on how to quickly “fix” the problem. It was appaling to see how a corporation has operated against the very people it claims to wish to support–and their actions brought to light the objectives of a company—to make a profit—and pitted them against the health and well-being of people. ..but if they were willing to do that then, then its not a surprise to see the same realities with the OIL spill/the risks taken that have affected us today.
Of course, BP is not the only company guilty of putting profit above human life….and thats where the larger perspective comes in concerning where prayer needs to go.
In example, ChevronTexaco brought the Niger River Delta to near-destruction through similar oil spills and toxic fallout from their refineries. As it turns out, when local women there could no longer make a living fishing (as they had for generations) because of the pollution, they protested and asked Chevron to clean up the devestation they created. In response, Chevron hired local mercenaries to deal with the protest who ended up killing some of the women and burning their boats. Sadly, the courts later decided that Chevron was not responsible for the actions of the mercenaries they hired……
As someone else said best, “Imagine BP’s Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil disaster happening every single year, with little or no public outcry, no media coverage, and all but silence from government and the companies involved. Welcome to Nigeria.”
For more info on the subject, one can go online and look up the following under their respective titles:
- —“Nigeria and Oil” ( //www.globalissues.org/article/86/nigeria-and-oil )
- – “Democracy NOW!! The True Cost of Oil” ( //www.democracynow.org/features/shell_on_trial )
- –“EveryDay Justice– Oil Spill and Nigeria” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/2010/06/16/oil-spill-and-nigeria/ ),
- –“Sweet Crude: A New Documentary on the Niger Delta by Sandy Cioffi” ( //www.sweetcrudemovie.com/learnMore.php )
- –“Democracy Now!!! 2008 Court Case shows Chevron Cleared in 1998 Shooting Deaths of Protesters in Niger Delta” ( //www.democracynow.org/2008/12/2/chevron_cleared_in_1998_shooting_deaths )
Its amazing to see how more oil spills out from the Nigerian delta every year than has been lost In the Gulf.
As one native said on the issue, as it relates to why the United States should care, and the moral implications of the ongoing tragedy:
“With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.”
Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people, put it simply. “If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention,” Ikari said. “This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta. The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the U.S. I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards.”
Seeing the issue can aid in giving a bit of perspective on the realities of what’s happening in the Gulf/Sensationalism on how bad it has affected the U.S….as if all has been innocent and now “a ecosystem disater of massive proportions is arising that we must be in alarms about”. The Gulf Coast Oil Spill is a blessing in many ways…as it is serving as a means of reminding others of the ways in which our own nation has already been responsible for injustices/damages of the same magnitude in countries all around…and that we should take injustice very seriously. All of that is said to say that there’s a MUCH LARGER issue with the Gulf Crisis than simply having OIL spill into the GULF. For at the root of it/many other instances is an issue of CHARACTER…..corruption….and it may take a long-time to see effective change if other issues are not dealt with.
Beyond the actions of OIL Companies, the other factor to consider is how many of those companies in trouble are DEPENDENT upon our demands…and in many ways, a simple reflection of our own desires. For many, again, are beginning to see is how many OIL Companies/their actions are simply a reflection of the failure of what most Americans wanted…..companies that were free of any government regulation/checks, with many believing in laizze fair capitalism for big corporations and being surprised…no more different than one saying its okay for teenage boys/girls to sleep in the same sleeping bag and no balances given since the youth pastor “believes in teens”.
And with that, again, comes the issue of addressing how these companies are relying upon our own addictions to CRUDE Oil. And as long as we cannot escape that, there’s little to no hope on the matter. As much as I may trip on the coroporations doing injustice, the reality is that even the little folks/marginalized appaled at what happens globally to others forget that they also participate in it by supporting the OIL Companines/using their products…..even as they’re aware of how those same companies will harm them if it meant a profit (as has happened before). Many angry at BP may not stop to ask themselves how they participate vicariously in things that support the same kind of damages. BP should have had better protections in place. ..and the Feds should have demanded those safeguards. But many choose to ignore their own little narcissistic life before they hate big oil. With other petro-habits (like the fact that, according to the Pacific Institute, in 2006 it took 17 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic water bottles we used that year…and that It takes over 11 million barrels of oil to make all the single-use plastic bags we plow through each year), it seems that the issue is a very compelx one.
Our “benefits” are either connected to someone else’s benefit…or their detriment. ….but ultimately, it all goes back to truly seeking to understand what it means to be the neighbor of another. With regards to being a neigbor to others in our evironmental choices, God has called us since Genesis 1-2 to be others who are for GODLY Stewardship of our world….as one of the ways we reflect Him Its sad to see as a whole, how its often the case that most believers consider issues of environmental concenrs (i.e. cleaning up Toxic waste, recycling, renewable engery sources, sustainable development, global warming, etc) as “secular issues” rather than connected to the Heart of the Gospel. Most even go to the extreme of saying all concerned for the environment are simply “liberal tree huggers”, making it into a political issue alone of polarization rather than one of PRACTICALITY/Responsibility. Opponents dismiss ecological concerns as an excuse to worship the world itself instead of God or simply as a secular trend.
For more good info on the issues:
- —“Skeptics, Cynics, and New York Times Bestsellers: Creation Care” ( http://flourishonline.org/2010/05/jo…creation-care/ )
- “Creation Care: More than Going Green” ( http://flourishonline.org/tag/evange…ironmentalism/ )
Books I’ve enjoyed reading on the issue are ones such as Ben Green, on his book entitled “Green Revolution: Creation Care”..One of the best kats around on the issue of Godly Environmentalism is one known as Jonathan Merrit. He wrote an article that may bless you, entitled “Preaching Gone Green.” One book on the issue that I read recently and that has been an immense blessing is entitled “Green Like God”—and I think you may enjoy it, as it deals with the issue of how often the issue of Godly Stewardship of the Earth/Creation Care is not considered with issues like environmental degradation. As he said best, “Living out the gospel includes caring for creation. It is inappropriate to claim that creation care—or any social issue—composes the foundation of the gospel. But the gospel calls us to a radically sacrificial, compassionate lifestyle. Jesus commands us to “make disciples of all nations” and teach others to “obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). This includes the commands to love our global neighbors, care for the least of these, and uphold the creation care mandates throughout Scripture.”
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 21, 2010
For anyone interested, I was writing due to some unique experiences I’ve been able to go through……as concerning my own West-Indian cultural background, I was blessed to go on a mission trip to the homeland of Jamaica. Been there numerous times before….. but its always a blessing to visit. The last time I went was about 7 years ago.
One of the things that often happens is that one inevitably encounters those who are known as Rastafarians—-and though I knew of them/saw them before, I never go to interact much with them. When it came to going down there, I made it a point to study up on the cultural dynamics of Rastafariniasm so I’d be caught up/able to witness. When I came down, our mission trip team worked with an organization known as YWAM Jamaica“. We also did extensive work with an organization known as The Faith Lifters Ministry .. under the leadership of Pastor Peter Dawkins….and it was amazing to see how many times I was called “Rasta” —both by the believers in Christ we worked with and with the locals as well whom we were seeking to aid. I initially assumed it was due to how I’ve chosen to grow locks over the past 3 years…but as it turns out, it seems that the term “RASTA” was something used to denote one who is spiritual…wise/godly…and though I used to be oppossed the term, there are many things I’m open to now.
Studying up on Rastafarianism, it was amazing to see not only the differences—but also the commonality between Christians and the Rasta group…and hearing out those who used to be in it/where they come from was a blessing. Some Rastafari choose to classify their movement as Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Protestant Christianity, or Judaism..and of those, the ties to the Ethiopian Church are the most widespread, although this is controversial to many Ethiopian clergy. For discussions have raged for ages on those who’re Rastafarian and Christian…as many had the Biblical Belief that Jesus was the Messiah…but many in the more “extreme” aspects of camp mistakenly held that Hali Salessi was Christ come back. I was amazed to learn that Haile Selassie, the King of Ethopia, was himself a devout believer in Christ……and one who was intimately connected with the Ethopian Orthodox Church. Whenever it came to others wondering why it was that people said was the Messiah, he’d always reply “I’m a mere man. I will be replaced by the oncoming generation and a human being should not be emulated for a deity.'”
Many who used to be Rastafarians worshipping Hali recognized that instead of worshipping him, they should’ve been worshipping who he was worshipping. And for the many who claim to be Rastafarians, and as I learned, the term “Rasta” can be used as a means of endearment since the name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I, composed of Amharic Ras (literally “Head,” an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Haile Selassie’s pre-regnal given name. Being called “Rasta” is many times a way of saying one’s spiritual like the Christian Emperor of Ethopia…where the focus is simply upon the lifestyle (i.e. maintaining locks/dreads as a spiritual symbolization like the Nazarite Vows, vegetarian lifestyles, Afrocentrism, Addressing the ways in which European Expansionism/Colonialsim and Imperialism has utilized Christianity as a means of continuning itself/suppressing others, Reggae, etc). …..as opposed to choosing to worship a man who’s not Christ.
Even more interesting is the reality of how intimately aspects of Rasta Lifestyles/views are connected with Messianic Judaism—and it has been wild to discover the intriacies of them more so over time. Many of those who are Jews of Color have noted how much it seemed that in being involved with Judaism, the Afro-Centric side of things became more clear….seeing how many in Jewish culture were Black—even though its not acknowleged by many in our own times. Other notable musicians within the Jewish world have noted the same—such as folks like Matisyahu, if anyone has ever heard of his music.
For more info, one can consider going online and looking up articles under the following names:
Something interesting to consider besides that is the role that the Orthodox church has had in shaping the dynamics of Rastararianism. On “Orthdoxy” of Rastafarianism, ……if desiring more info, One of the best books on the subject is entitled Dread Jesus by William Spencer….
And for some more info on the book–as said best elsewhere:
“Dread Jesus”: A New View of the Rastafari Movement
William David Spencer’s Dread Jesus (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1999) is, quite simply, one of the best books by a Christian theologian about a new religious movement. Although Spencer examines primarily different views of Jesus Christ within the Rastafari community, the book is also a comprehensive history of the movement, of its sources, and of the differences between its many contemporary branches. It is also a valuable introduction to reggae music and its connections with the Rastafari community. Spencer, as many Rastafari scholars before him, traces Rastafari back to the Ethiopianist movement and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), established in 1914 in Jamaica by Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940). While Zionists preached the return of Jews to Palestine, Ethiopianists suggested that African Americans should eventually return to Africa (and particularly to the historical heart of Africa, Ethiopia). Spencer reconstructs Ethiopianism as a Christian movement, although an unorthodox one. While Garvey’s image of a “black Christ” was consciously symbolic, other Ethiopianist preachers such as Robert Athyli Rogers (from the Caribbean island of Anguilla), founder of the Afro Athlican Constructive Church, regarded the “black Jesus” as one among many divine incarnations (for Rogers, the most important incarnation of God was Elijah ).
Others, like Prophet Alexander Bedward in Jamaica, claimed to be the new messiah themselves. All this changed on November 2, 1930 when Ras Tafari was crowned as Emperor of Ethiopia as H.I.M. (His Imperial Majesty) Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975). World media covered the event, and most (although not all) Ethiopianists in Jamaica believed that this successor to the line of King Solomon, bearing titles such as “King of Kings” and “Lion of Judah”, was indeed the Christ who was to return. Spencer insists on the role played on the foundation of Rastafari religion by three preachers: Leonard Howell, H. Archibald Dunkley, and Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert.
As far as Dunkley and Hibbert are concerned, he insists on their membership in the Great Ancient Brotherhood of Silence, or Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia, one of the “black” (or “Prince Hall”) Masonic organizations. Spencer claims that a number of features of Rastafari religion derive from this branch of Freemasonry (including the name “Jah” for “God”, coming from the Masonic form “Jah-Bul-On”). Later Rastafari leaders and authors, such as Dennis Forsythe, were in turn influenced, according to Spencer, by the Rosicrucian order AMORC. Rastafari is, thus, a syncretistic faith including elements from the Western esoteric and occult tradition, Christianity, and Jamaican and Caribbean lore (including the trademark Rastafari dreadlocks, and the use of ganja). Spencer also re-examines the well-known story of Selassié’s visit to Jamaica in 1966, his denial to be God or the return of Christ, and his attempt to lead Rastafarians into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (with only moderate success). He also examines the peculiar role of reggae singer Bob Marley (1945-1981) in the development of Rastafarian thought (an extreme fringe even believes Marley, rather than Selassié, to be the messiah). The most important part of Spencer’s book deals with Rastafari reactions to the Marxist revolution in Ethiopia, and the following imprisonment and eventual death of Selassié in 1975. While, in the immediate aftermath of these events , Selassié’s death was explained away as yet another “big lie” by the world media, gradually most Rastafarians recognized that His Imperial Majesty will not physically reappear any time soon.
What happened, according to Spencer, was the separation of elements whose coexistence within the Rastafari community had always been difficult. While only a handful of Rastafarians followed Selassié’s counsel and joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a significant number (whose main international organization is the Twelve Tribes of Israel) adopted a more explicitly Christian approach, recognizing Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Selassié as a mere human (if all-important) prophet. Their Christ remains a “black Christ” within the frame of contemporary black or Africanist theology. As a reaction, an anti-Christian movement, the “bun Christ” (or “burn Christ”) movement, manifested itself, particularly at certain reggae events. Rastafari has always been anti-Catholic (because it accuses the Catholic Church of having supported Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, seen as the ultimate sacrilege). Some contemporary Rastafarians are also anti-Christian, although many would qualify even the most extreme “burn Christ” statements by claiming that their quarrel is with the “white Christ” in whose name racist crimes have been perpetrated, not with a liberated “black Christ”. There is little doubt, however, that one branch of Rastafari has followed the Eastern linings of one of the “founders”, Leonard Howell, and has adopted a mystical view of Selassié’s soul as an entity quite independent from the Emperor’s physical manifestation. A portion of this divine spark or essence, eminently manifested in Selassié, is present in all Rastafari faithful, if not in all human beings, within the framework of a sort of gnostic pantheism true to the occult-esoteric connections of some of the “founders”.
Rastafari, Spencer concludes, is at a crossroad, between Selassié as God (re-interpreted after the Emperor’s death in a pantheistic and gnostic sense) and “the God of Selassié”, i.e. Jesus Christ. In the latter sense, Rastafari, or a branch of it, may eventually become a “Selassian” Christian Church, no less Christian for its veneration of Selassié as a prophet and a saint (just, Spencer notes, as there is a “Lutheran” Church, named after Martin Luther but certainly not claiming that he was the messiah). At any rate, Spencer takes seriously Rastafari as potential (and, at least in some cases, actual) “roots Christianity” of what he calls with the politically correct name of two-thirds world. While liberation theology has been too often a theoretical construct of Western intellectuals, movements such as Rastafari are a much more reliable indicator of the real feelings and spiritual needs of Caribbean and other two-thirds world spiritual seekers. In this perspective, Spencer’s book is a model of theological dialogue between traditional Christianity and a new, admittedly “bizarre”, religious tradition. Similar enterprises should probably be attempted with respect to other new religious movements as well.
I’d definately recommend the book, for anyone interested on getting a good review on the issue/seeing a balanced treatment of the Orthodoxy of Rastafarianism and how it connects to Christianity. Outside of that, For more info, one can consider going online and looking up articles under the following names:
As I mentioned earlier, I used to have a problem with being called “Rasta”—but when doing more research, I was at peace seeing how it can easily be something combinded into one’s Christian/Messianic Faith without compromising Christ. If you want to converse with more Rastas who have embraced Christianity and especially Orthodox Christianity, I’d highly suggest looking into this forum known as Fulfilled Rastafari House – Serving Jah & Rastafari. They may be able to offer even better takes than I can—seeing that I’ve never been fully incorporated into Rastafari.
For more info on the matter—as my information is indeed limited/I learned much elsewhere
- Looking for a Dreadlocked Jesus – Is Rasta Christian? An Interview With William David Spencer by Todd Hertz, Christianity Today
William David Spencer is perhaps the best authority on the subject that I know of—and you’d probably be blessed by his material.
As it relates to the Jewish culture, I think the issue is especially relevant…..as it concerns how INTIMATELY the cultural aspects of Rasta and Judaism are intertwined. In example, consider how much of an issue it is within the Jewish world on examining the reality of Jew/”concept of Jew”, and who qualifies for being a “Jew”. For more info, Messianic Jewish apologist Dr. Michael Brown actually wrote something very solid on the issue in his article entitled “Who Is a Jew?” Questions of Ethnicity, Religion, and Identity”. The issue is not one that another can simply say “it doesn’t matter”—as the implications of such are being seen DAILY in our times. Why do you think there are so many battles in Israel right now over the plight of those who are Ethopian Jews/Falasha Mura and others considering them “not Jewish enough” because of their backgrounds? Or, for that matter, why do you think there’s so much battle going on over those who are Sephardi Jews (from Spain and Portugal) fighting against the European Jews for being treated as “second-class” citizens?
Likewise, with those who are in the Carribbean, its also a problem when it comes to those who are Rastas—-many of them believing themselves to be a lost tribe of Israel—and yet never considered to be “Jewish” enough. To me, that’s a bit interesting……as many often remember what occurred with the Slave Trade/shipping others off from Africa to the Americas and the Carribbean Islands…yet not many are aware of the fact that many of those same Africans were already Jews. The African Diaspora was directly connected with the Jewish Diaspora….and though not as readily acknowledged in previous times, others have come to be more aware of Jews and Judaism in the African diaspora—as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (as well as other times the Jewish nation was conquered) caused many of the Jews to be scattered all over—with Africa being one of the main places. Many Jews did not simply venture into Africa out of persecution, of course—as many were there LONG-before….but the history of African Jews is something to consider when it comes to those in Jamaica desiring to go back to Zion…and the African Homeland
As said best by another elsewhere on the issue:
Most people would assume that all Africans in the colonies were whipped into believing in Christ generations ago after being stripped of their culture and taken to the New World. However, Jamaican slaves came primarily from Ethiopia, and if you’ve heard of Operation Moses (1984) and Operation Solomon (1991), you know that the Israeli government and many religious authorities consider the Beta Jews of Ethiopia authentic, and perhaps even related to the lost tribe of Dan. If that’s the case, then for many Jamaicans, the Black Diaspora was only a continuation of the Jewish Diaspora, and while they may read King James’s Bible, it’s King Solomon they have allegiance to.
Concerning Zion, its intriguing to see how with the Rastas, Zion is the African Homeland—specifically, the ancient country of Ethopia. And as much of the focus is upon Ethopia, its no surprise to see the intimate connections the Rastas feel with the struggle of those who are Ethiopian Jews & Falasha ..and how much oppression they’ve receieved in Israel due to their background. For if you’re aware of the situation with those who are Black Jews, many appreciate that they have a place to escape the persecution, Israel..but on the other side of that, there is alot of racism among the Ashkenazim influx who do not accept them as they should… and thus sometimes they are treated as second class citizens in Israel. It has been a situation that has angered many Jewish people….
For more info on the matter of those who are Black Jews:
- The Rosh Pina Project (an alternative look at Messianic Jews): Call to blacklist Ethiopian Messianic Jews
- The Rosh Pina Project ( an alternative look at Messianic Jews ): Is Today’s Jewish State Racist?
- New Signs that Ethiopian Aliyah Will Resume
- Israel’s welcome for Ethiopian Jews wears thin
- Direction: Reverse Contextualization: Jesuit
Encounter with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
- Messianic Judaism and
Ethiopian Orthodoxy ( specifically in #24
- Falasha – Exile of the Black Jews
– Part 1
- Falasha – Exile of the Black Jews – Part 2
- Falasha – Exile of the Black Jews – Part 3
- Falasha – Exile of the Black Jews – Part 4[Final]
- The Jews of Africa — The Beta Israel of Ethiopia
As I’ve shared elsewhere, I’m actively involved in a Messianic Jewish fellowship known as “Congregation Mishkan David” , under the leadership of Rabbi Aaron Evans. ….and within that, I also attend a small-group fellowship known as Mivdad. For more info, one can go to Marietta Daily Journal – Two faiths, one roof. I’m very close friends with the rabbi there…My older brother/spiritual father in the Lord, who was raised in a Messianic Jewish family and is a former Eastern Orthodox priest and monk–and thus, very big on studying/understanding the Church Fathers, as well Church History. And when it came to discussing the issue of Black Jews as well as Rastas, it was cool to see just how open he was on the matter….and, for that matter, enthusiasticly supportative of others who seek to make clear how much of a Black Side/aspect of things has been lost within the Jewish world. It’s highly intriguing when one does the research how often those who’re either Jewish or Messianic Jewish are portrayed as “caucasian” the majority of the time in many churches….and those who’re Black are considered “Black Jews” rather than simply Messianic Jewish since anyone honestly researching will see that the stereotype of Jews predominately being “caucasian” in the Original Culture is off. .
And some of it is VERY heavy to consider—–as even in Israel, among Jewish people, there’s still the age old issue of RACIAL DIVIDE…….and lack of acceptance of an Africa/Afro-Centric view while the Euro-Centric view of scripture/history is all that’s virtually accepted.
And for a personal perspective on the matter when it comes to the concept of Black Jews, it was odd at times being a Black Hispanic learning about/loving Jewish Culture—and yet, still battling with the times I’d prefer that I’d be a bloodline Israelite….and feeling that blacks are not really connected to the Jewish faith as much as those who’re European. Going back/studying, however, I was shocked to witness how much of the Early Church Fathers were black (Augustine of Hippo, in example…one of the three early Black Popes). I was shocked when seeing some of the pictures of him—as I always assumed he was white..but then again, when considering the reality of where he was from (as he had a Berber/African mother), its not surprising:
And outside of him, various others in Jewish Culture have black aspects within them that I never realized—from Simon of Cyrene (Luke 23:25-27 ) to Solomon and a host of others.…..many of the things that are never discussed.
Of course, for those who are RASTA, this is a big deal–and something ACTIVELY discussed in their circles. And thus, why those within are glad others are actively teaching there’s no need to be ashamed of an African Prescence in the Scriptures or backgrounds that need to be dealt with. Colonialism and Imperialism did a significant job setting the stage/making it seem as if European perspectives was the only way to filter scripture thru—using it to subjugate/enslave many in the name of “Christ”….and thus, why many have problems with Christianity today as a “white man’s religion”. But those showing the black side of the Faith are doing much to change that.
The Rasta Life is one of the many ways in which God, IMHO, is seeking to address that.
Sorry if what I said came off as rambling……but I pray it makes sense…
I believe every culture should be able to express their love for Jesus in the manner that befits them according to the authority of the scriptures we all must heed…and IMHO, I wish all of us were more aware of the wonderful and colourful mosiac of cultures and experiences that bloom across our planet.
God redeems whatever He wants. And for further example, I’m reminded of concepts such as Hip Hop Culture, for example, and other seeking to bring in Christ within that Genere…as that’s an intimate part of the sub-culture I hail from within Black Culture. The one group I’m referring to is one known as Hazakim (Hebrew for “Strong Ones”)–as they’re a Messianic Jewish Rap Duo that has taken alot of heat within the Jewish world for being Holy Hip Hoppers..and for being one of the best defenses in the musical genere of celebrating it within the church.
Seeing the group in action within Hip Hop is intriguing—for as it relates to the OP with Rasta/ Reggaee, many are unaware of the Jamaican ROOTS behind the Hip Hop Genere. One can go no further than studying DJ Kool Herc, as he is is largely credited as the “father of hip-hop”.
When asked by hip-hop historian Davey D what hip-hop is, Herc gave the following answer:
“Hip Hop… the whole chemistry of that came from Jamaica… I was born in Jamaica and I was listening to American music in Jamaica… My favourite artist was James Brown. That’s who inspired me. A lot of the records I played was by James Brown. When I came over here I just put it in the American style and a perspective for them to dance to it… I’d find out where the break in the record was at and prolong it and people would love it… the rhyming came about because I liked playing lyrics that were saying something.”
With that said, it was amazing to see how a Messianic Jewish Rap group made a song utilizing the musical style of the Reggaee genere that was BRILLIANTLY amazing…known as Kadosh (Conclusion).
Its made by the rap duo known as Hazakim…from their latest CD entitled “Theophanies“…and on the song, if you are unfamiliar with Hebrew, kadosh is the word for Holy, so that when Isaiah saw the glory of the LORD, he heard the seraphim say, “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh.” When you hear rap artists do this, it shows the power of the art form to convey things to people in a way that they may not have heard it before.When the intro started, there were clips of someone speaking about the holiness of God, but when the reggae artist started speaking “Kadosh! Kadosh! Holy Holy! , I couldn’t help but go “WOW..they actually did that as Messianic Jews.”—though, it wasn’t surprising to see what they did in the style they chose since they have Afro-Caribbean blood as well as Semitic roots. They’ve actually shared some of their thoughts before on their musical leanings/multi-cultural perspective as seen here in their article entitled A Multi-Cultural Perspective About “Race” in America And The Presidential Race in America.
To be clear, “Hazakim” is my favorite Christian Rap group…..connected with other solid Messianic Jewish believers like Dr.Michael Brown and others…and for those wishing to find out more on who they are:
If anyone has any thoughts on the issue, I’d love to hear sometime. What are your thoughts on the issue of Rastafarianism and Judaism? Do you agree or disagree that they are connected/can co-exist? Is it wrong to be considered a “Christian Rasta” or “Jewish Rasta”? Would love to hear sometime…
Cochin & Hindu Hebrews: Interesting seeing how many Messianic Jews seem unfamilar with Indian Jewish Believers…
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 21, 2010
I was writing this due to how I was in discussion with some other Messianic Jews recently—on the issue of Multi-Culturalism…and something that was brought up at one point was the subject of Indian Jews. It was interesting to consider, seeing how often it has been the case that only those Jews of a European background are discussed/placed at the forefront of the Messianic Jewish world…with that specific cultural viewpoint exalted. Traveling on the Mission Field/loving to discover new cultures, it has been really fascinating to learn of how Jews in India have lived among the predominant Hindu and Muslim population for millennia….and that there were eras where the Jews were scattered throughout various empires (i.e. the Persians, Greeks, Alexander the Great’s Empire), with the differing customs of those cultures getting involved.
To me, much of it reminds me of how the Jews were in times of Exile—with examples such as Esther and Daniel coming to mind in how they interacted with others for the sake of survival…..
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Esther Made Queen
12 Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther (the girl Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
There is also the ministry of Indians in Israel , which almost exclusively consist of Indian Jews who migration to Israel upon the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. There are now an estimated 85,000 Indians who live in Israel…and they are primarily Cochin Jews and Paradesi Jews of Kerala, Bene Israel of Maharashtra and Baghdadi Jews.
The Indians in Israel have formed several associations, namely Indo-Israel Cultural Association, The Central Organisation on Indian Jews and the Centre of Jewish Heritage.
But when consisdering Indian Jews /Jews of India, its amazing to see how much of the culture around them had images which the locals may’ve contexualized for the sake of spreading the Gospel/demonstrating Biblical truths and ideas within Jewish culture…and alongside that is the reality that for those who’re Indian Jewish, its amazing to see how many parallels there are between Hinduism and Judaism…and for more information, one can go online to an article entitled Judaism – Hindu Customs in the Jewish Community in India
Regarding contexualization/imagery used from the culture one lives in, One person that comes to mind is a Jewish/Indian individual who does art work—and has been coming into more prominence of late in what she shows. Siona Benjamin is an Indian Jewish painter , and her Blue Like Me series has been very intriguing to many. For more info, one can go to Siona Benjamin – My Jewish Learning .
As said there about her:
Born into the Bene Israel Jewish tradition, Benjamin grew up Jewish in a Muslim and Hindu community while attending Catholic and Zoroastrian schools. Living her life at the intersection of multiple faith traditions, as well as moving from Bombay to Iowa for graduate school and then to New Jersey where she is currently based, has made her desire to find “home” a constant preoccupation of her life. The conclusion Benjamin has come to: home doesn’t exist. “In this increasingly trans-cultural world, home is where you place your tent. The world is getting smaller,” she says.
Benjamin’s work reflects this. Drawing from the faith traditions she has lived within, combining them with modern images and stories, Benjamin’s art is truly multi-cultural. “I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived,” says Benjamin.
Siona Benjamin’s work brings together a wide array of sacred and secular images: Lilith, the Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, Indian comic books, lotus flowers, American flags, ballerinas, tanks, IV needles, phylacteries, gas masks. But she does more than just collage American, Jewish, and Indian symbols together. She also rethinks the context and symbolism of those references. For example, in “Finding Home No. 46 (‘Tikkun ha-Olam’)” Benjamin shows a self-portrait of the artist as a seven-branch Menorah, no doubt a Jewish play on the multi-armed Hindu gods. The candleholders are hamsas, and the figure dances beside a snake (the evil inclination?) and a sphinx blowing a horn (shofar?). In casting herself as Shiva–a major Hindu God–Benjamin achieves the same sort of religious nuance that Chagall attains in his “White Crucifixion” (1938), where Jesus’ loincloth is a tallit. By stressing Jesus’ Jewishness, Chagall shows that Jews can “own” the symbol of the crucifixion and it need not only appear in Christian contexts. Benjamin’s Jewish Shiva blends the imagery of the menorah’s arms (representing the days of creation) with the symbolism of Shiva’s arms (which also may have to do with creation).
In so doing, Benjamin is perhaps also presenting the artistic version of the talmudic declaration that there are 70 perspectives (literally panim, or faces) to the Torah. By presenting her personal Jewish identity, Benjamin exposes some of the Western stereotypes about Judaism and reminds her viewers that just as there are 70 equally valid interpretations of the Torah, there are dozens of ways to make a Jewish painting. The rabbis did not necessarily have Benjamin’s interfaith enterprise in mind, but just as Jewish art has so often borrowed aesthetic forms from Christian and pagan culture, Benjamin establishes herself as heir to that tradition and adds her own personal touch by using contemporary symbols and references.
For more info, one can go to the following:
Considering the Work of Siona, it made me ponder how many of Jewish background often feel conflicted in their identities…especially the heritages they were born with are divorced from the cultures they also grew up in….and that are apart of who they are.
For another example, I’m reminded of the struggles of the many Indian Believers in Yeshua who’ve had many battles because they felt that in order to follow the Lord, they had to give up aspects of their Indian Culture.
For some examples of such, here are some articles others can consider:
- Is it Possible to be a Hindu Follower of Christ? –from “Christian Post.com” (as they have many articles on Hindu Issues )
One can go to Wikipedia and look up Caste system among Indian Christians )–and Missionaries tread warily in India…..as it gives information regarding the cultural aspects of the Caste System and many things which we in the West may not comprehend when looking at the suffering they go through and yet never realizing the dynamics of their cultures….especially in regards to Dalit Christians and other believers being martyred that choose to retain many traditions from their Hindu Roots and the many times they have to make clear to others how Hinduism is not simply a matter of religious matters
To be clear, some other things to keep in mind…as said best by another
Our host in Chandigarh, who oversees several house fellowships, is contextualizing his work in the local Hindu and Sikh cultures. In other words, elements of Hinduism or Sikhism find expression in the lives of these churches. In saying this, I do NOT mean the people worship false gods–the elements of culture present among them are part of their commitment to Christ, rather than compromising it. This leader is sometimes criticized by ministers from more traditional churches, who would like to see him completely break away from anything having an appearance of Hinduism or Sikhism.
An example of this contextualization is the name by which the believers call their fellowship. They call their community a satsang, which is a Hindu word for a gathering seeking truth. Some say it is wrong to use this Hindu term, arguing that it is a pagan concept. The brothers and sisters we met, though, believe the use of the word helps those of a Hindu background draw near to God. Another example is the use of a coconut for the Lord’s Supper. Coconuts are often incorporated into Hindu worship; therefore, Hindu-background believers break them open and take the flesh and the milk to represent the body and blood of Christ. Something really neat we learned is that, for Hindus, a coconut means fullness of life. So Christ’s body was broken, and through him comes fullness of life.
That I thought was more than on point—though Being involved in/loving things such as Anthropology & loving the research, that may be just me.
For some other interesting tibits to consider when it comes to those Indian Believers….As far as I’m aware in many of the communities in India that’re Jewish have had relative peace/support from amongst others in the nation. In example, because of the region’s tolerance for ethnic diversity–the Indians saw Jews as just another cast–a Jewish community flourished in Cochin for thousands of years, without prejudice or pogroms. The Cochin Jews were accepted by the Hindu rulers, and for the most part lived in a peaceful environment…..and as it turns out, the major reason for this phenomenon is the predominance of the Hindu caste system. Considered their own separate caste, the Jews did not disrupt Indian society. As long as they married and socialized in their own group, which they did enthusiastically, the other castes had nothing to complain about.
All of that’s interesting, seeing how both CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM are Monotheistic/believing in One God (something others often say are reasons for why Hindu Terrorists attack the believers in India)–and yet, the Jewish system is what seems to get more acceptance across the wall.
And of course, one has to be careful even in saying that Christians do not necessarily have acceptance in some instances…..for there has LONG been a strong Christian Prescence in India—especially as it concerns Eastern Christianity (St.Thomas) and those India Christians that’ve been long established…just like the Indian Jews there…all having to deal with the effects of the Hindu Caste System of power/influence.
Also, one can always go to Youtube to find out more on the issue. For some videos one can investigate
Its always a trip to see the ways in which the Jews seem connected to other places around the planet even in ancient times—-and there was an interesting article I was able to come across awhile ago that had me thinking–as its entitled “Is There A Connection Between Ancient Indian And Hebrew Language?”. On the issue of the article, some say that the contact between Jews and Ancient India was mostly via Dilmun..and for more info, Bahrain has been inhabited since prehistoric times and several thousand burial mounds in the northern part of the main island probably date from the Sumerian Period of the 3rd millennium BC. It was the seat of ancient Dilmun — a prosperous trading centre linking Sumer with the Indus Valley about 2000 BC. The archipelago was mentioned by Persian — Greek — Roman geographers and historians.
Something interesting to consider…
Of course, there are many who even scoff at the concept of Jewish culture somehow getting connected with other places. For the sake of backdrop on where I come from and why I’m fascinated with those who are Indian Jewish, I’m actively involved in a Messianic Jewish fellowship known as “Congregation Mishkan David” , under the leadership of Rabbi Aaron Evans. For more info, one can go to Marietta Daily Journal – Two faiths, one roof. I’m very close with the rabbi there…My older brother/spiritual father in the Lord, who was raised in a Messianic Jewish family, is a former Eastern Orthodox priest and monk–and thus, very big on studying/understanding the Church Fathers, as well Church History. He and I were discussing the other day…and I actually had it to where brought up the same point of how many, be it Jewish or Non-Jewish, often assume that Jews are only those of European Descent…….and act as if those who believe there’s much more beyond that are not truly “Jewish” enough. Of course, he’s both of European Descent and a Sephardic Jew…and thus, the issue hits home strongly for him.
On the issue of Jews of differing cultures/ethnicities, there’s actually a wonderful ministry seeking to deal with such…as one can go online/look up a ministry by the name of Be’chol Lashon.meaning “In Every Tongue”–which is a research and community- building initiative created by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research to support a Jewish people that is more racially, ethnically, and culturally inclusive, both in the United States and around the world. And it goes into exceptional detail concerning the many struggles for those who were of MIXED ancestry and yet, due to stereotypes, they were considered not really “Jewish”.
For one story on the issue, one can go to the following articles/books:
Also, if interested, there’s a solid article on the issue that may interest you—entitled & “Memoirs of a Jewminicana–Multiculturalism….”. The lady over that specific website actually was involved in a video panel of Jews of differing ethnicities—and it was a solid video that I was able to witness not too long ago—as it’s found at the the following:
Seeing how many Jews treat one another, it seems like nothing more than the reality of happened with the Jews and Samaritans….seeing that there was a deep hatred that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews saw themselves as pure descendents of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a mixed race produced when THE Jews from the northern kingdom intermarried with other peoples imported from other nations by the King of Assyria after the exile in order to keep peace (II Kings 17:24). The Jews in the southern kingdom considered Samaratins to be “IMPURE”RACIALLY/refused to recieve help from, even during the rebuilding/return from EXILE. Thus the pure Jews hated this mixed race because they felt that their fellow Jews who had intermarried had betrayed their people/nation…….and the Samaratins had set up an alternate center for worship on Mount Gerizim to parallel the temple at Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed 150 YEARS earlie ( II Kings 17/, Ezra 4 , Nehemiah 2 , Nehemiah 4, etc). As time went on, relations between the 2 groups got progressively worse, even into Jesus’s day..and hence, the reason why Jesus chose to have a Samaritan be the hero of his parable, as he would have been the person least suspected by a Jew to be worthy/capable of anything, Luke 10:27 )…..and moreover, the reason why JESUS HIMSELF WAS INTENTIONAL ABOUT MINISTERING TO Samaritans….like Jesus when he interacted with others like the Samaritan Woman (John 4 )—and going places that were often “forbidden” as with Samaritan territory ( Luke 9:51-53 / Luke 9 )
And so it is with many who Indian Jews—-as many who serve the Lord may not feel like they’re accepted …yet they know Yeshua has taken time to invest in them just as much as He will with other Jews. And even with those Jews who’ve not yet accepted the Messiah as Lord/Savior, it can be difficult enough for a Jewish person to simply come to faith/accept what is said of Yeshua to be true. Why make it even more difficult for them/add another stumbling block to them by saying that they’re not even really “Jewish” & then blowing them off? Really, Its always sad to see the ways in which we can box others in/not appreciate differing ways of expression and culture. It reminds me of something that came to my mind the other day…as I was reminded at work on how often people see life on one level, treating it like flat paper sheets…only meant to write on..and yet not many know how to treat it like Origami, where you can transform it ithrough folding/ sculpting techniques into Works of Art/Breathtaking sculptures ..
And then there’s the inverse of that where we so often we feel we’re living a “CARD Board Box” life, with limits–so we claim “Think Outside the Box”, as if we have to throw away what we know to gain something new. Yet how often do you hear others ask how they can RETHINK/Transform the shape the Box comes in……or when others feel frustrated at others “boxing them in”, not considering that perhaps they’re meant to be another SHAPE/kind of box rather than no shape at all. As an example, one can go online to “Out-of-the-Box Cardboard Art & Sculptures | Design + Ideas “
Just as the Oragami and Cardboard is set up upon the design of taking one substance/transforming it into something else entirely, so it is also with those who are Indian Jews—-for as much as others may not think much of them, they’re truly simply another variation of the same BEAUTIFUL substance that’s inherent in being Jewish. And they can/should be cool with that rather than allowing others to “box” them in/make them feel as if they must look like everyone else to be cool.
East Vs West: Is Western Christianity or Eastern Christianity best suited for evanglising those in Eastern Religion?
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 21, 2010
Concerning why I was writing this, its been heavy on my heart for awhile to see the trends in culture/ where the church stands…..and to me, its odd to see how much focus has been brought up in regards to Eastern Thought in our current times…placing them out there for entertainment.
Many shows come to mind, one of which is entitled ” “Avatar” : The Last Airbender”. A movie was made recently, based off the T.V show that’s very based in Mystical thought. One of the groups discussed in the show are known as the Air Nomads, a monastic order of men and women practicing Airbending — the mystical art of aerokinesis. They were pacifists and highly respected nature and creation….as well as ones into practices of deep spirituality (i.e meditation, restraint, etc). Many hints suggest that the Air Nomads are based on Chinese Shaolin monks and Tibetan culture due to their peaceful nature, monk-ruled society, and geographical isolation due to elevation.
Avatar has literally captured the minds/hearts of many
With the Air Nomads from the T.V Show “Avatar”, as well as many other groups in the show, I’ve noticed an exceptionally large amount of youths (including Young adults) —both in the world and the church—that seem to give much focus on the subject of Monasticism/Mysticism in other religions …assuming that the Church isn’t as mysterious/captivating on the issue…and yet, sad to see how others are often unaware of how much the subject took center stage in the Church when it came to the issue of Monasticism/Mysticism of others in the Early Church.
A Good article for review:
On the issue, I’m not certain if it could be said that the church has nothing to offer those who are going to Eastern Religions ( includes Caodaism, Chen Tao, Chondogyo, Confucianism, Jeungism, Shinto, Taoism, I-Kuan Tao and elements of Mahayana Buddhism. ). I’m constantly reminded of others such as the Desert Fathers… the desert monks of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in the fourth to sixth century. At the heart of Christianity’s monastic, contemplative, and mystical traditions lives the spirit of the Desert Fathers. ..as they were essentially spiritual zealots who lived outside the boundaries of society, pursuing spiritual purification through the renunciation of all worldly distraction. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction.
For more extensive info on them, one can go to the following:
Seeing how they sought to live their lives in a fasted lifestyle and continual holiness with prayer/self-inspection and other practices common in monasticism/mysticism, it was beautiful to behold…and something I wish was discussed more.
I didn’t always know of who the Desert Fathers were..until I was able to come across a certain book on the issue, as seen here:
Had it recommended to me by one of my friends/older brothers in the Lord….as he’s a Messianic Jewish Rabbi I work with–alongside one who used to be a Former Eastern Orthodox priest previously…..and thus very passionate for studying the Ancient Faith/History of the Church. He can be found at Congregation Mishkan David. He’s very passionate on issues of Monasticism, especially as it concerns New Monasticism occurring today amongst others who have hearts for both social justice, the community and the kind of fasting that Isaiah 58 describes.
With the book on the Desert Fathers, the book was indeed a blessing to read, regarding what is a translation of the most complete version of the Apophthegmata Patrum, a compilation of sayings from the desert monks of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in the fourth to sixth century. Seeing how they sought to live their lives in a fasted lifestyle and continual holiness with prayer/self-inspection and other practices common in monasticism, it was beautiful to behold. It was also highly informative in regards to Eastern Christianity and how different life was for them—as well as just how much more REAL it was as well in comparision to what we see here in the West so many times. The book was such a blessing since it shed so much light on the issue and gave extensive coverage that others thought was lost for our times. The other book on the Desert Mothers was one that I had to keep in mind as well—though I gave that one away to another…
Before going further, I think it’d be appropiate to take a bit of a side note and discuss how specific actions by the Desert Fathers are intriguing if considering that many think the Desert Fathers/their monasticism (alongside mysticism) were intimately connected with other groups central in the Jewish culture Yeshua may’ve grown up with… such as the Essenes.
For more info, consider investigating the minstry of “Follow the Rabbi: Essenes”—and for more as it concerns even the aspects of Christian Mysticism and Jewish ideology, one can investigate:
- Discover the roots of Coptic Christianity & Monasticism: A guide by Didaskalex “Eusebius Alexandrinus”
As the Desert Fathers fled the corruption they saw, so it was with the Essenses…for in an effort to avoid corruption, the Essenses fled the “politics”/went into the desert of Quarman…much like the Desert Fathers did in their own choice for monasticism and fasting in the sense that they saw it. Similar to the Pharisees, the Essenes saw themselves as God’s elect in whom He was secretly working/will vindicate when He finally cleanses the Temple, fulfilling His promises & restoring true worship while also putting back the right people in power and bringing redemption to unredeemed Israel. However, they had differing views on socio-political actions.
For whereas the Sadducees believed in seizing/maintaining political power for themselves…while the Pharisees were somewhat similar, the Esscenes lived very simple/communal lifestyles………proclaiming by their actions that, though they longed for the liberation of Israel, they were simply going to wait and allow the Lord to bring it to pass in His own time.
They felt God will act in His own ways and was, in fact, already acting secretly through them and their quiet devotional practices rather than as other parties acted. When the resurrection happened, the Essenes—seeing themselves as the recipients of God’s future eschatological benefits, naturally believed that having shown their faithfulness to God during the exile/not engaging in either hatred of others or violence, they would be reestablished as the true Israel.
While the Roman war appealed to men of action such as the Zealots, men of a more peaceful and visionary nature seemed to become Essenes….and many others believe the Essene camp was what Christianity was birthed out of. For more information, one can go online/look up “The Essenes and Messianic Expectations. A Historical Study of the Sects and Ideas during the Second Jewish Commonwealth”( )
Many are for the mindset that John the Baptist was Himself a Levite and more than likely an Essene..with that being apart of the reason why he was considered a threat to both the Sadducees and the Pharisees …and the theory of John being a Levite has many powerful implications—one of which is the reality of how he fled to the wilderness to live growing up—just as many of the priests apart of the Essene camp did in the desert of Quarman—and the teachings/concepts taught to John’s disciples…already prepared to go to Jesus in John 1:19-40 and John 3:22-31 when his own disciples complained on Jesus gaining more followers…to which John made clear He was already aware of it/knew it was to be like that since He was a forerunner to Christ preparing the Way ( Luke 7:26-28 /Luke 3:1-5 /Luke 3:15-35 Luke 3 /Matthew 3:1-17 )–before Christ was revealed on the scene. With many of the teachings of Christ/John being very similar (if not the same), one has to naturally wonder if perhaps the Essene teachings were also involved/crossed over.
As it stands, both John and the Essenes used Isaiah 40:3 to describe themselves as the voice in the wilderness…so its interesting to consider. However, whereas the Essenes hid themselves away from society in the wilderness, John lived there for a season….but later became a very public figure. Also, John preached Jesus as the Messiah–while sadly, the Essenes did not recognize Jesus as Messiah..though they thought that the Teacher of Righteousness would arise from within their group. But it does seem at times as if the group with the closest resemblance to John was the Essenes…and For more information, one can go online and look up an article under the name of “Apples of Gold: John the Baptist”
But I digress…
As was said before, when it comes to studying other groups within the early church who were very much into monasticism and mysticism, I’m surprised to see others such as the ones already mentioned rarely mentioned during evangelism. For there have already been examples of others who fled corruption as much as they could and desired to live set apart. The Desert Fathers are truly one of the greatest examples of such.
And of course, there’s always the dynamic of those who were Christian Mystics in the early church.
Of course, there can be a danger in studying from the past as it concerns the East/Mysticism. And the only reason I bring this up is because it seems that there’s often a lack of caution when it comes to studying the saints/much of Eastern Christianity/the early church.
For as it seems in many places, the presence of Eastern religious movements in the West, especially in the past decade or two, has really been influential in much of the church..and for others who either study the saints incorrectly or fail to be aware of them/their practices, many have consequently chosen to either proclaim the equality of Christian religious experiences and the experience of Zen Buddhism/ other pagan religions as equal if seeing the ways Eastern Christianity is mystical…or they choose to dismiss Eastern Christianity altogether when seeing similarities in things discussed there with other Eastern Religions. This has often been the case in many PROTESTANT Camps that exalt intellectualism and rationalism above mystery.
Nevertheless, much of the history of the early church in Eastern Christianity (especially Catholic )–as it concerns Mysticism/Monasticism–could be what those in Eastern Thought could find valuable if/when it came to what it is they thought could only be found within Eastern Religions.
On a side note, some may think when speaking of Western Christianity that I’m also including Roman Catholicism—-and in the event that they may think that, I wanted to qualify where I was coming from…as there are also many branches of Catholicism that qualify for Eastern Christianity. For when considering the 5 Eastern Catholic Churches, there’s the reality that even in the Catholic circles there’s not a “one size fits all” since within the theological framework of Catholicism, there’re battles going on..as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church/Eastern Catholics is radically different from Roman Catholicism in their ideologies when it comes to practices such as married clergy, the election of bishops by the Church as a whole, collegial government and many other features that’re unknown to Roman Catholics.
For others wishing to have more info on Eastern Catholics:
- The Role & Position of the Eastern Catholic Churh within the Catholic Church
- The Other Catholics: A Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches
Moving on, within this thread subject, the history of Eastern Catholic Monasticism / monasticism in the Christian East is something that comes to mind. And of course, some of the commonality between the Eastern Christianities and Western Christianities (as it concerns Catholicism) is universal in its appeal, seeing how many have been steadily going toward the Ancient Faith. Western Christianityand Eastern Christianity differ in many of their theological approaches, which perhaps is simply the result of cultural influences. The Eastern mindset is more inclined toward philosophy, mysticism, and ideology, whereas the Western outlook is guided more by a practical and legal mentality. This can be seen in the subtly different ways that Eastern and Western Christians approach spiritual truth. For Eastern Christians believe that truth must be personally experienced and, as a result, they place less emphasis on its precise definition as would many in the West who place emphasis on systematic theology and formula. There is more of a focus on Orthopraxy rather than Orthodoxy alone as well….with truth/righteousness being seen in right action rather than mental assent alone.
Of course, much of the same mentalities have filtered there way into many camps within the Western World—especially amongst others tired of what they’ve seen in Western Christianity. One of the men of God whom I highly enjoy learning from is by the name of Shane Claiborne…..and Shane is apart of what’s known as New Monasticism. With Monasticism, its interesting to see how revivals in monasticism historically have ocourred in the forgotten places when the church is in real danger of forgetting its meant to be on Gods mission. Monasticis living is something that is truly worth investigating when it comes to fasting you describe. For some good review:
- New Monastic Shane Claiborne Questions The American Dream – 1/2
And on others who have noted the same … as it concerns reference material:
- “Historical Sketch” of Christian Mysticism from Mysticism (1911)
- Panentheism – Perichoresis – Christology: Participatory Divinity << Zoecarnate
Other camps, of course, feel they’re more qualified to reach out to the Eastern Religious than others….and in example, I’m remidned of what another individual in Eastern Orthodoxy noted when claiming only Eastern Orthodoxy had what was necessary to reach those in Eastern Religions. As said in their article entitled MYSTAGOGY: Can Orthodox Christianity Speak To Eastern Religions? (for brief excerpt)
I recently had a conversation with a dear Eastern Orthodox priest, whose twenty six year old son had left home the day before to live indefinitely at a Buddhist monastery. He was heart broken. His son was not a stranger to Eastern Orthodoxy or to its monastic tradition, having even spent two months on the holy mountain of Mt. Athos.
His son’s journey is not an isolated event. Eastern religious traditions are a growing and competing force in American religious life. Buddhism is now the fourth-largest religious group in the United States, with 2.5 – 3 million adherents, approximately 800,000 of whom are American western “converts”? There are actually more Buddhists in America today than Eastern Orthodox Christians! The Dalai Lama (the leader of one of the Tibetan Buddhist sects) is one of the most recognized and admired people in the world and far better recognized than any Eastern Orthodox hierarch? Have you looked in the magazine section of Borders or Barnes and Noble lately? There are more publications with names like “Shambala Sun”, “Buddhadharma”, and “What is enlightenment?” on the shelves than Christian publications!
In addition to losing seekers to eastern spiritual traditions (many of them youth), eastern metaphysics has also seeped into our western cultural worldview without much notice. They are doing a better job (sadly) “evangelizing” our culture than we Eastern Orthodox Christians are!
The Lord Himself commands us clearly “that repentance and remission of sins (baptism) should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Buddhists (of which there are many sects) and Hindus live among us in America in ever-growing numbers, in our college classrooms, on our soccer fields, and in our “health foods” stores – they are right in our own backyards! They are a rich, potential “mission field” for the Eastern Orthodox Church in the United States. Unfortunately with few exceptions, like the writings of Monk Damascene [Christensen] and Kyriakos S. Markides, we are not talking to this group at all.
As a former Hindu and disciple of a well-known guru, or spiritual teacher, I can tell you Orthodox Christianity shares more “common ground” with seekers of non-Christian spiritual traditions of the east than any other Christian confession! The truth is when Evangelical Protestants attempt to evangelize the eastern seeker they often do more harm than good, because their approach is western, rational, and doctrinal, with (generally) little understanding of the paradigms and spiritual language (or yearnings) of the seekers of these eastern faiths.
There are three “fundamental principles” that Buddhists and Hindus generally share in common:
1. A common “supra-natural” reality underlies and pervades the phenomenal world. This Supreme Reality isn’t Personal, but Trans-personal. God or Ultimate Reality in these traditions is ultimately a pure consciousness without attributes.
2. The human soul is of the same essence with this divine reality. All human nature is divine at its core. Accordingly, Christ or Buddha isn’t a savior, but becomes a paradigm of self-realization, the goal of all individuals.
3. Existence is in fundamental unity (monism). Creation isn’t what it appears to the naked eye. It is in essence “illusion” and “unreal”. There is one underlying ground of being (think “quantum field” in physics!) which unifies all beings and out of which and into which everything can be reduced.
What do these metaphysics have in common with our Eastern Orthodox Faith? Not much, on the surface. But in the eastern non-Christian spiritual traditions, knowledge is not primarily about the development of metaphysical doctrine or theology.
This is one of the problems western Christians have communicating with them. Eastern religion is never theoretical or doctrinal. It’s about the struggle for liberation from death and suffering through spiritual experience. This “existential-therapeutic-transformational” ethos is the first connection Eastern Orthodoxy has with these traditions, because Orthodoxy is essentially therapeutic and transformative in emphasis!The second thing we agree on with Buddhists and Hindus is the fallen state of humanity. The goal of the Christian life according to the Church Fathers is to move from the “sub-natural” or “fallen state”, to the “natural” or the “according to nature state” after the Image (of God), and ultimately to the “supra-natural” or “beyond nature” state, after the Likeness. According to the teaching of the holy Fathers the stages of the spiritual life are purification, illumination and deification. While we don’t agree with Buddhists or Hindus on what “illumination” or “deification” means (because our metaphysics are different) we agree on the basic diagnosis of the fallen human condition. As I once said to a practicing Tibetan Buddhist: “We agree on the sickness (of the human condition). Where we disagree is on the cure”.Eastern Orthodoxy – especially the hesychasm (contemplative) tradition – teaches that true “spiritual knowledge” presupposes a “purified” and “awakened” nous (Greek), which is the “Inner ‘I'” of the soul. The true Eastern Orthodox theologian isn’t one who simply knows doctrine, but one “who knows God, or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. ” As a well-known Orthodox theologian explains, “When the nous is illuminated, it means that it is receiving the energy of God which illuminates it…” This idea resonates with eastern seekers who struggle to experience – through non-Christian ascesis and/or through occult methods – spiritual illumination. They just don’t know this opportunity exists within a Christian context.As part of their spiritual ascesis, Buddhist and Hindu dhamma (practice) emphasizes cessation of desire, which is necessary to quench the passions. Holy Tradition teaches apatheia, or detachment as a means of combating the fallen passions. Hindu and Buddhist meditation methods teach “stillness”. The word hesychia in Holy Tradition – the root of the word for hesychasm – means “stillness”! We don’t meditate using a mantra, but we pray the “Jesus Prayer”. Buddhism, especially, teaches “mindfulness”.Holy Tradition teaches “watchfulness” so we do not fall into temptation! Hindus and Buddhists understand it is not wise to live for the present life, but to struggle for the future one. We Orthodox agree! Americans who become Buddhist or Hindu are often fervent spiritual seekers, used to struggling with foreign languages (Sanskrit, Tibetan, Japanese) and cultures and pushing themselves outside of their “comfort zones”.We converts to the Eastern Orthodox Church can relate! Some Buddhist and Hindu sects even have complex forms of “liturgy”, including chant, prostration and veneration of icons! Tibetan Buddhism especially places high value on the lives of (their) ascetics, relics and “saints”.The main difference in spiritual experience is that what the eastern seeker recognizes as “spiritual illumination”, achieved through deep contemplation, Holy Tradition calls “self contemplation”. Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), who was experienced in yoga (which means ‘union’) before becoming a hesychast – monk and disciple of St. Silouan of the Holy Mountain wrote from personal experience, “All contemplation arrived at by this means is self-contemplation, not contemplation of God. In these circumstances we open up for ourselves created beauty, not First Being. And in all this there is no salvation for man.”Clement of Alexandria, two thousand years ago wrote that pre-Christian philosophers were often inspired by God, but he cautioned one to be careful what one took from them!So we acknowledge the eastern seeker through his ascesis or contemplative methodologies may experience deep levels of created beauty, or created being (through self-contemplation), para-normal dimensions, or even the “quantum field” that modern physics has revealed! However, it is only in the Eastern Orthodox Church and through its deifying mysteries that the seeker will be introduced to the province of Uncreated Divine Life. It is only in the Orthodox Church that the eastern seeker will hear there is more to “salvation” than simply forgiveness of sins and justification before God. He will be led to participate in the Uncreated Energies of God, so that they “may be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). As a member of the Body of Christ he will join in the deifying process, and be increasingly transformed after the Likeness! Thankfully, deification is available to all who enter the Holy Orthodox Church, are baptized (which begins the deifying process) and partake of the holy mysteries. Deification is not just for monks, ascetics and the spiritual athletes on Mount Athos!Eastern Orthodoxy has much to share with eastern spiritual seekers. Life and death hangs in the balance in this life, not the millions of lives eastern seekers think they have! As the Apostle Paul soberly reminds us, ” … it is appointed for men to die once but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27).
May God give us the vision to begin to share the “true light” of the Holy Orthodox Faith with seekers of the eastern spiritual traditions.
For other places that the article can be found, one can go to There are more Buddhists in America today than Eastern Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Way of Life: Can Orthodox Christianity Speak To Eastern …
On the article itself, its Interesting to consider (IMHO). …especially in light of how the author was a former Hindu himself and shared his background elsewhere on how Eastern Christianity ministered to him in the Eastern religion he was in. And for more info on much of what the man has to say, one can go to the following:
- Discerning the Spirit in Creation: Orthodox Christianity and Environmentalism
He can also be found at “Ancient Faith” radio, as he’s also the co-host of the Internet radio program “The Illumined Heart” which is broadcast weekly on Ancient Faith Radio..and as one of the hosts there, he’s very insightful. For some samples:
Again, I thought the critique was excellent—as it concerns the ways in which he described how Eastern Christian thought could easily be something of a bridge for those in Eastern Religions if certain things were emphasized.
Again, I pray that what I’m saying doesn’t come off the wrong way. But in all honesty, even though I’m not 100% for all things in Eastern Christianity, I’ve come to appreciate many of the things that they’ve noted…and think the church can indeed learn well if/when it concerns evangelism. Some of this has occurred before if studying history…and in example, I’m reminded of how the Gospel was contexualized in other cultures of Asia such as in Chineese culture and other places when it came to Christianity spreading. There was a book I was able to come across a couple years ago about the first Christian missionaries to China (in the 6th century, I think) – for they were Nestorian Christians from the Middle East. It was really cool to see how they “contextualized” the gospel into terms and images that resonated with the local Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian cultures. ..
A book I was informed of awhile ago is entitled “The Jesus Sutras” by Martin Palmer.
It is an historical account of the first Christian mission to China (led by the monk Alouben) in 635, a piecing together of various strands of evidence: a long-lost Christian monastery now used as a Buddhist temple (with Christian statues in the eighth-century pagoda), a sutra (holy writing) of stone in a stone library, and “The Jesus Sutras,” a collection of scrolls found hidden in a secret library that was sealed around 1005.
From these fragments, the author pieces together a framework for what these early Christians believed, how they acted and interacted with the myriad of cultures and religions around them. The result is a fascinating depiction of a Christianity that is adaptive, hospitable, and relevant.
These early Chinese Christians drew upon imagery from their understanding of the Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shamanism of Tang Dynasty China, which allowed them to present a radical image of Christ as the Dharma King, sending “your raft of salvation to save us from the burning streams” – even saving us from karma and reincarnation.
Here’s one of the sutras:
Beyond knowing, beyond words
You are the truth, steadfast for all time.
Compassionate Father, Radiant Son,
Pure Wind King – three in one…
Supreme King, Will of Ages,
Compassionate Joyous Lamb
Loving all who suffer
Fearless as You strive for us
Free us of the karma of our lives,
Bring us back to our original nature
Delivered from all danger.
Sutra of Praise to the Three Powers, A.D. ca. 780-790
Others have noted the same kind of dynamic in differing ways. In example, “Ancient Faith Radio” did a series on the issue of how in some cultures, it seems that they were already being prepared for the presentation of the Gospel…with it being established that GOD was at work in all cultures and therefore it need not be the case that all aspects of a culture must change in order for the Gospel to be understood properly.
The radio brodcast was on a book entitled “Christ the Eternal Tao”…and one can go here for some reviews
As it stands, it was interesting to see from an Eastern perspective how the Tao Te Ching is presented as an imperfect, incomplete foreshadowing of what would later be revealed by Christ—and how in many ways Christ was interpreted from an Eastern /Asian perspective.
As it concerns the issue of contexualization and presenting Christ in differing cultures, as was said best by another in an article entitled Contextualization: Can a Muslim or a Hindu be a Christian …:
For non-Westerners, the physical and spiritual worlds are not separate; everything in life has a spiritual aspect to it. Westerners separate the two, and can therefore make a distinction between culture and religion, but for most non-Westerners, the two are inseparable. If we understand this, is the only option for a person in India to cease being a Hindu or a Muslim (Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, etc.) and become a Christian? Or can a person be a Hindu or a Muslim who follows Christ and serves the one true God alone? Before jumping to any conclusions, let’s consider the matter. Our host in Chandigarh, who oversees several house fellowships, is contextualizing his work in the local Hindu and Sikh cultures. In other words, elements of Hinduism or Sikhism find expression in the lives of these churches. In saying this, I do NOT mean the people worship false gods–the elements of culture present among them are part of their commitment to Christ, rather than compromising it. This leader is sometimes criticized by ministers from more traditional churches, who would like to see him completely break away from anything having an appearance of Hinduism or Sikhism.An example of this contextualization is the name by which the believers call their fellowship. They call their community a satsang, which is a Hindu word for a gathering seeking truth. Some say it is wrong to use this Hindu term, arguing that it is a pagan concept. The brothers and sisters we met, though, believe the use of the word helps those of a Hindu background draw near to God. Another example is the use of a coconut for the Lord’s Supper. Coconuts are often incorporated into Hindu worship; therefore, Hindu-background believers break them open and take the flesh and the milk to represent the body and blood of Christ. Something really neat we learned is that, for Hindus, a coconut means fullness of life. So Christ’s body was broken, and through him comes fullness of life It can be easy to criticize such contextualization of the gospel in other cultures, and those practicing contextualization have faced their share of attacks. I’m not sure it’s right to criticize, though, until we have had the opportunity to live for an extended period of time in the culture in question, gaining a good understand of the practices and worldview of the people. How else can we understand whether a cultural expression is pagan or not? In our short time with our brothers and sisters in Chandigarh, as far as we could tell we found them to be full of the love of God and committed to Christ and the work of the kingdom.
For others who may question the logic behind what others have noted, One would do well to remember what with Paul in /Acts 17:3 ., where Paul identifies the altar “to an unknown god” as a groping after God, and says, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (vs. 23). Paul goes on to cite several Greek poets as pointers to the truth found in the gospel. Of course, Paul never suggested that the religious perspectives he found in Athens were sufficient to bring about the true and complete knowledge of God. They are pointers to the truth, not the truth itself. Their value for Paul lies in their capacity to point people to the gospel of Christ. Yet in this capacity, they have real value. Paul’s sermon illustrates a broad theme found throughout Scripture. Melchizedek and Jethro, the father of Moses, stand outside the covenant community and yet are channels through whom God instructs his people. Much of the wisdom in Proverbs 22:17 to 24:34 bears close affinities to Egyptian wisdom documented from other sources. Isaiah declares that Cyrus of Persia is God’s anointed who has been raised up to do God’s will (Isa. 45:1).
The same understanding has repeated itself frequently in the history of the church. Many of our cherished Christian practices were originally borrowed and adapted from non-Christian religions. Christmas trees find their origin in northern European pagan practice. Even the date of Christmas coincides closely with a pagan Roman festival devoted to the sun god. Rather than denying any truth or value in such practices, the church saw them as early pointers to the gospel and incorporated them under the banner of the lordship of Christ, always making sure that they pointed clearly to Christ. Christians don’t deny that there is truth or value in other religions or that God works through other cultures. Rather, Christian faith simply declares that all religions (including the Christian church in a continual way) must respond to what God has done, in sending his Son into the world and in calling all to respond in faith to him
There are other Biblical examples to consider on the issue when it comes to the issue. I’m reminded of how the Jews were in times of Exile—with examples such as Esther and Daniel coming to mind in how they interacted with others for the sake of survival….. and with Esther, she was told to not even alert the king on her Jewish identity.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Esther Made Queen
…. Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Esther in Persia/all she had to do when it came to adapting to Persian culture as a Jewish believer stands out among many….…….as many could consider what she did as somewhat “selling out to the culture” she was in—yet for her, it was a matter of adaptation for the sake of survival. It later came in handy for aiding her and her people. Many Jews had the same kind of experience when it came to being in certain cultures and learning how to adopt certain aspects for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
The same thing would go with others prior to her like Joseph. For in the case of Joseph, he married an Egyptian Wife—one who was a Daughter of an EGYPTIAN priest, at that ( Genesis 41:44-46 / ) Often in Jewish culture–if you inter-married with others who were “pagan”, you were no longer considered “Jewish” enough. And as Gen. 41:14 makes clear Joseph shaved before standing in Pharaoh’s presence, there seems to be a huge lesson of interculturation since a beard was highly regarded in Israel ( 2 Samuel 10:3-5 / /Leviticus 19:26-28/ /Leviticus 21:4-6 ) but not in Egyptian Culture. Indeed, this is the reality of cultural concession..for Joseph revealed wisdom by adapting to the culture of his day, yet in a way that did not violate any biblical principle.
The same also seems to be seen in the life of Daniel in Daniel 1:1-20. With Daniel, we find the prophet and his three Hebrew friends taken captive to Babylon. We know these men best in terms of what they refused to do. All refused to partake of the king’s choice food / wine (Dan. 1:8-16), which seemed to be associated with idolatrous worship. (In this case, it would be consistent with the prohibitions of Acts 15:20, 29.) Daniel refused to cease praying (Dan. 6), & his three friends wouldn’t bow to the golden image (Dan. 3).
However, in focusing our attention on what these four men refused to do we sometimes fail to take note of the cultural concession they were willing make. They were submissive to the king’s requirements by becoming educated in the schools of Babylon for three years, and of serving the king as advisors. These men had the God-given wisdom to discern between what was culturally acceptable and what was not. They were able to faithfully serve God and to be witnesses to Him, even in a pagan land, because they could discern the elements of that culture which were an offense to God—and they also sought to not be an offense unless necessary.
Sometimes, trying to show the aspects of Eastern Religion that may’ve been legitimate may’ve gotten lost in the process when it came to Eastern Christianity. One example that comes to mind is is the example of the Chineese Rites controversy. In countries in the American continent, it was often the case that areas were conquered through military force by Spain and Portugal….with evangelization procedding and conversion to an unmodified form of Catholic Christianity. However, European missionaries encountered differing realities in Asia since the people there were unite and literate socities untouched by European influence or national endeavour. China viewed itself as superior in many ways to the rest of the world…….with European concepts seen as barbaric and uncessary.
Consequently, there began argument for the adaption of Christian customs to the societies of Asia. Some of the missionaries from the Jesuits even began to wear the gown of Buddhist monks, before later adopting the more prestigious silk gown of Chinese literati. Some kept Chineese customs which did not go against the principal beliefs of Catholicism, so as to make their missionary activities successful. Sometimes they also adopted Chinese thoughts when explaining their doctrines….as seen whenever some missionaries “contextualized” the gospel into terms and images that resonated with the local Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian cultures. ..
Some felt that things had gone to far, as seen in many of the condemnations given against the Jesuits in China by those in Rome—as they felt that the desire for worshipping ancestors was something that had no basis in Christian thought..even though others felt it was nothing more than honoring those from the past. Those approving of it tried to emphasize the dynamic of veneration of the saints as a means of common ground when trying to reach out to those who were very tied with ancestor worship. The Chineese did not agree with the Western World’s interpretations of Catholic thought when it came to interacting with China. The Pope then gave a ban on missionary endeavor on the issue…and thus, Christianity was stiffled in its growth in China. Because of the ban, there was persecution that arose in China later toward Christians…and this is where the issue of Crypto-Christianity occurred since many Christians took their faith underground and masked it with symbols in the dominant religions which could be used to explain things in the Christian faith without upsetting things greatly.
For more info, one can go to the following:
- The Chinese Rites Controversy: A Long Lasting Controversy in Sino-Western Cultural History
- Of Rites and Wrongs: The Chinese rites controversy of the seventeenth century entangled Jesuits in Europe as well as in China
Again, its interesting to consider what often went down when it came to the reality of how those feeling forced to learn of Asian culture often went to lengths that others today may’ve felt were way too far. …..
Much of what went down could have been avoided if there was wisdom given in being able to show what aspects of the culture one could see the Lord in and that could be apprecaited without taking all aspects into itself.
And thankfully, there are many sound examples of this. St.Francis Xavier comes to mind in the struggles he had to go through
St .Francis Xavier was one of the most influential missionaries in Japan…..converting a significant number of others to Catholicism. The man often was in debate with the Buddhist Bonzes of Japan. Xavier was welcomed by the Shingon monks since he used the word Dainichi for the Christian God, attempting to adapt the concept to local traditions. As Xavier learned more about the religious nuances of the word, he changed to Deusu from the Latin and Portuguese Deus. …though the monks later realized that Xavier was preaching a rival religion and grew more aggressive towards his attempts at conversion. But the more the Bonzes opposed the teachings of Francis, the greater the number of conversion
Sadly, much of his work as well as that of other missionaries was destroyed when Japan decided to exile all other faiths from their culture when they locked themselves off from the outside world. Xavier understood the importance of taking on positive aspects of Japaneese culture when it came to missions, gaining many converts. But due to the government’s changing views toward Outsiders and Christianity, many of those same Christians whom he converted and who had children that became Christians were either persecuted or killed—whereas others who may have left Japan for whatever reason were forbidden to return alongside other Japaneese.
When Xavier was called away alongside other Jesuits, he did not desire to leave…but was forced, only to discover he could never return. Nevertheless, it was amazing to see how his mindset (in regards to Eastern Chrisitianity) when it came to the Far East had such a great impact.
For more info one could consider investigating:
- A History of the Christian Tradition: From the Reformation to the present By Thomas D. McGonigle, Thomas C. McGonigle, James F. Quigley
There are many others besides him that have noted the same. If aware of the work of Paublo Marella, he’s one Catholic that immediately comes to mind on the issue……and IMHO, his example/thoughts are something that are of much benefit (IMHO) when it comes to the issue of contexualization and inculturation of the Gospel. He’d often say to missionaries to the East that it was important to not only learn the language/culture of prospective converts…but to embrance foreign cultures even at the expense of one’s own since only a Gospel stripped to its essence can penetrate an alien culture. And it’d be interesting to see what he’d think if living in the time period we’re currently in. It still seems powerful in light of what he’d often say to missionaries to the East when saying it was important to not only learn the language/culture of prospective converts…but to embrance foreign cultures even at the expense of one’s own since only a Gospel stripped to its essence can penetrate an alien culture. In places such as China, this was made very difficult at some points…such as with what occurred when the acceptance of Christianity was made more difficult by the Rites Controversy and related Eurocentric rulings from Rome that were inflexible in dealing with rites to ancestors and to Confucius. For this produced an untenable situation in which conversion to Christianity forced one to be unfilial to one’s ancestors. …and thankfully, Rome later reversed these rulings in 1939 in a case involving Japanese Shinto
It is also interesting to see how interest in Zen spread among Catholics in certain eras, with many beginning to use methods of Zen meditation in their own prayer life…as dialogue with Buddhists, especially Zen Buddhists, developed in many places and led to Oriental-Occidental spiritual exchanges. The one that began first occurred in September 1979, when 51 Buddhist monks experienced a month of monastic life in contemplative Catholic monasteries in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The second cultural exchange occurred in October 1983 when 17 contemplative European monks, mainly Benedictines and Trappists, came to Japan to spend a month in Zen monasteries. Personally, I’m glad to see such exchanges occur…especially if others in Eastern Religions were able to be exposed to the Biblical practices of the Church.
And as it concerns the general subject of inculturation/contexualization, if interested, here are some very insightful (and scholary reviews)…many of them from a Catholic perspective while some are not:
- “Missio Inter Gentes: Towards a New Paradigm in the Mission Theology of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).”
- “From ‘Missio ad Gentes’ to ‘Missio inter Gentes': Shaping A New Paradigm for Doing Christian Mission in Asia.”
- “Theologizing at the Service of Life: The Contextual Theological Methodology of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).”
- Towards Asian Liturgical Inculturation: Investigating the Resources in the Documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) for Developing an Asian Theology of Liturgical Inculturation.”
- “From Ecclesia In Asia To A Mission Of Love And Service: A Comparative Analysis Of Two Contrasting Approaches To Doing Christian Mission In Asia.”
- A New Way of Being Church in Asia: The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) at the Service of Life in Pluralistic Asia.
Its already interesting to see what has gone down with many of the Catholic churches in Eastern cultures that’ve come under fire for many of the ways they’ve sought to do interculturation…as it concerns the Asian nations. As it concerns the issue of others perhaps missing the Gospel during the translation of what’s within Eastern Cultures/connecting that with Christianity, I’m reminded of what another said best in the article entitled Vulgata: A Humble Expression of my Need for a Cultural Identity. As said there:
Perhaps the area of the world that has done the least work towards inculturating the Gospel is the same one that has the lowest percentage of Christians: Asia. The Federation of Asian Bishop Conferences, along with the Pope, expresses this lack of inculturation in terms of a need to find the “Asian Christ”. Each individual has a personal relationship with Christ and so too does each culture. Different attempts have been made in Asia to find this relationship. Some have advocated a Buddha-like Christ, a Brahmanistic Christ, a Gnostic Christ etc., but these attempts have missed the point on two accounts. Firstly, the project of inculturation is not a project of syncretism. Its not that we have to make Christianity more like Buddhism so that Asians can relate to it, in fact such a project is doomed to failure. Christ and Buddha were two so radically different people who taught such radically different things that if you try to make Christ into Buddha, you just end up with Buddha. Thus the Asian can say “if your Christ is like my Buddha, then I’ll remain a Buddhist and you can remain a Christian.” The second way that these attempts at finding an Asian Christ fail is that they are just that, attempts. Inculturation is not something that can be done by writing a book or publishing an article or developing a theology. It has to be lived by those who actually practice the faith. The Pope in Ecclesia in Asia suggests that the Asian image of Christ will place emphasis on “Jesus Christ as the Teacher of Wisdom, the Healer, the Liberator, the Spiritual Guide, the Enlightened One, the Compassionate Friend of the Poor, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd, the Obedient One.” These seem like good starting points, but the Pope has also been persistent in saying hat the uniqueness of Christ and His sacrifice must also be proclaimed to separate Him from the hundreds of gurus, mystics and enlightened spiritual teachers that populate the Asian religious landscape.
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 4, 2009
Politics have been interesting of late—especially in light of President Obama’s campaign and the intensity of feelings on both sides. Though looking at the issues, I’m still reminded of the reality of what occured when the election went on last year—as seen in one of the articles I reviewed when researching the political issues of the election and not being sure of which side to support (As I didn’t wish for either Obama or Mccain since I felt both were significant issues in their own right). As said there—in light of how many people are now Independent when it comes to voting (and others even decided not to vote):
The dreadlocked Christian activist from Philadelphia and his team parked a black school bus around the back. The hand-painted gold letters on the side read “Jesus for President.”
Claiborne is touring the country, packing churches and community centers, in support of the book he and Chris Haw co-authored, “Jesus for President.”
“This whole project is about the political imagination of what it means to follow after Jesus,” Claiborne said. “The language of Jesus as Lord and savior is just as radical as it would be to say ‘Jesus as our commander in chief’ today.”
Young evangelicals represent an important swing-voting bloc. They’re not a lock for Republicans as their parents were. Their feet are firmly planted on issues dear to both parties. Traditional family values are, as they have been in the past, an important issue.
But these voters say views on abortion and homosexuality won’t define them in November. The environment and social justice are moving to the forefront of their discussions.
About 26 percent of the United States identifies itself as evangelical Christians in the Protestant tradition, according to the latest U.S. Religious Landscape study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In 2004, more than 75 percent of evangelicals cast their vote for George W. Bush.
“They delivered for him in some key states, like Ohio, without which he could not have won,” said CNN’s Bill Schneider, senior political analyst. “It was the rallying of the evangelical base that Karl Rove developed as a strategy, maximizing turnout among your base voters, not worrying about independents or swing voters.”
But polls have shown that evangelicals as a whole, following national trends, are disaffected with Republican leadership and increasingly up for grabs.
Thursday was the fifth night of the tour and it has already seen hundreds show up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
It was a hot, muggy June day in Pittsburgh. About 250 people came through the doors to find there was no air conditioning in the old church-turned-community center. They ran out of chairs so people took to the floors and leaned against the walls.
There were voters from across the board: Republicans, Democrats and independents. Most were young, Christian by background, evangelical in theology, and they say they’re hungry for something more than partisan politics.
Steph Walker and Amanda Widing had to settle for seats in the back.
“I would say that social justice and issues like that have definitely arisen as an important part of my faith and, because of that, it affects how I vote and think of those things definitely,” said 21-year-old Walker.
She grew up in a Republican household but has switched parties and will vote for Sen. Barack Obama in November.
Widing, 20, is a registered Republican but unsure who she’ll vote for.
“There are certain issues where I identify more with Republicans and other issues where I identify more with Democrats, so I really am completely undecided at this point,” she said.
Eric Sapp is a founding member of the Eleison group focused on getting people of faith out to the polls for Democrats. He sees younger evangelicals as prime targets to swing.
“These voters are starting to become independent swing voters instead of a lock for either party,” Sapp said. “For Democrats, also, it’s a successful place because when a group had been voting four out of five Republican and they start becoming a swing constituency that also has significant electoral implications.”
Back on stage Claiborne takes the crowd through a multimedia presentation.
“With the respectability and the power of the church comes the temptation to prostitute our identity for every political agenda.”
Controversially, he quotes Harry S. Truman and Adolph Hitler, saying each used Christianity to support their ideologies.
The speech is fiery at times, pensive at others. It emphasizes caring for the poor and the downtrodden. He talks about war and the environment. He also talks about how Jesus stood up to the Roman Empire, a message he believes is relevant to the United States now. “For many of us, Caesar has colonized our imagination, our landscape and our ideology,” he says while a picture of Mount Rushmore flashes behind him. On the screen “Vandalism” pops up in black letters.
Trading lines back and forth from a script with Haw, they save the most wrath for Christians who they say have missed the point of the cross.”We’ve profaned the blood at the foot of the cross and turned it into Kool-Aid and marketed it all over the world. We’ll make an art and a business out of taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Claiborne says as images of Christ on the cross and the American flag flash behind him.
They endorse no candidate and make no effort to sway the voters for one party or another.
After the speech in an interview with CNN, Claiborne said, “This is not about going left or right, this is about going deeper and trying to understand together. Rather than endorse candidates, we ask them to endorse what is at the heart of Jesus and that is the poor or the peacemakers and when we see that then we’ll get behind them.”Claiborne says the movement of younger evangelicals is growing and looking at the Bible in more holistic terms. He is quick to say the call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3 and 5 than how they vote on November 4.
I’m still taken aback in light of how he not is accomplished (with degrees in Sociology/Youth Ministry and having done some graduate work)–but with how Claiborne’s outlook on ministry to the poor is often compared to Mother Teresa, whom he worked alongside with during a 10-week term in Calcutta
There was a conversation on the man recently that really spoke to me/my generation, as seen in Interview with Shane Claiborne
Also, If interested, found an interview by Claiborne on the issue of politics/religion that really intrigued me when I listened to it awhile back….as found here in Shane Claiborne: Jesus For President: CCDA 2007 Audio—as the audio dealt with the question of whether or not we’re political…& how are we political…and that God is forming a peculiar people & set apart from the nations, who are the embodiment of a political alternative to empires, and their markets and militaries.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?””
Martin Luther King, Jr. quote
“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
“A Time to Break Silence,” at Riverside Church”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
The other one that was HIGHLY insightful was entitled Three Degrees of Separation —as it dealt with the generational differences between three Evangelical leaders well known for their work concerning Faith/Politics. Others such as Shane Claiborne spoke with other notable Christians involved in political activism. One of the first notables was a man named Chuck Colson, who heads a ministry known as “Prision Fellowship” ( //www.prisonfellowship.org/site_hmpg.asp )–which does EXTENSIVE work among those who’re in Prisions concerning:
- Promoting faith-based prisons to promoting the principles of restorative justice (i.e. an approach to justice focusing on healing broken relationships, repairing the damage done by crime, and restoring the offender to a meaningful role in society, etc),
- stimulated dialogue between victims and offenders in order to facilitate reconciliation,
- Assisting children and families of prisoners…
- Post-prison support through the giving of small start-up loans to qualifying ex-prisoners to enable them to start small businesses–providing a means for them to support their families and lead a productive life within the community
I was HIGHLY impressed—as this seems to be a premier example of MISSIONAL LIVING (or at least, simple CHRISTIAN LIVING) among those who’re often most forgotten in society—taking the “Gospel of Christ to their side of the street” and seeking to make sure they’re taken care of. It was also refreshing to see the Wilberforce Forum and seeing the Christian Worldview/Advocacy aspect of the ministry, as well as seeing the justice reform efforts done through Justice Fellowship ( //www.justicefellowship.org/site_hmpg.asp)….. and it was interesting to see how Chuck Colson, by the way, has debated other prominent Evangelicals, such as Brian McLaren on the best response for the Evangelical church in dealing with the postmodern cultural shift. And I greatly appreciate the work he does Colson’s later life has been spent working with the organization devoted to prison ministry called PRISON FELLOWSHIP
- Charlie Rose – Rick Warren / Gregory Boyd ( //video.google.com/videosearch?q=Gregory+Boyd&emb=0&aq=f# )
The Twelve Apostles
12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.-Mark 3:17-19 /Mark 3 /Matthew 10:3-5 Matthew 10
[ The Calling of Matthew ] As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector‘s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Additionally, interestingly enough that all of them are trying to fufill the following scriptures:
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5″And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.‘
Add to thatThe Parable of the Good Samaritan that greatly simplified things–Luke 10
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’]”
28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Titus 3/ Titus 3
Doing What is Good
1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
Didn’t know whether or not I was the only one who had heard of them/was interested—-but I was curious as to what your thougths would be if anyone has researched them. For both were intriguing to investigate when it came to my views as a Believer in the Political realm and how it is that one should view Christ.
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 25, 2008
Was just writing to ask for prayer from everyone, as there are some things the Lord has been calling to really fast/pray on for awhile and I need to obey his voice. It’s been a struggle, but due to some intriguing events (such as 4 drunks coming to repentance last night after my friend and I drove them home and preached the Gospel by the POWER of GOD—SHANDA!!!!!), I realize that I need to really run after the Lord on some things to get some factors clarified (undisclosed at the moment).
So, for anyone who seriously enjoys this blog, If everyone would please send up a shout-out to God for me, I’d appreciate it. Again, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Could be for a week, though I’m guessing it’s gonna be for awhile—as posting on these forums is one of my greatest habits/joys (interacting with everyone/learning) but something that I feel I need to get away from and that God is challenging me on. Either way, your prayers are supported—-and prayerfully, in those areas where you’ve been challenged, may the Lord show himself to you as well.
On a bit of a different subject, Recent events have reminded me of how recently, I came back from attending a trip to a Conference called “The CALL” (THE CALL: Should Others Call to it or should it be Called Off? ) with individuals such as Lou Engle, Will Ford, and others for intercessory prayer for the nation and revival in America again. Out of all of the conferences I’ve been to, this was one of the most impacting trips by far. Though the movement’s CHARISMATIC in nature, what they’re doing in principle seems applicable for all………and it wasn’t because of “how entertaining it was” or “flashy”
It was because from 9 am in the morning till 10 pm at night, all that took place was fasting/prayer for the nation with millions of other individuals…….and they were praying and fasting on issues such as compromise/lack of zeal for the truth that often takes place in the church or letting the world influence us more than we realize.
It served to remind me how often it seems that our focus on many boards/others are so focused on theology/discussion and yet in practical living, there often isn’t consistency….
Pray that what I’m saying is making sense. Some demons/forces we battle spiritually truly came come on by nothing else but PRAYER AND FASTING, like Jesus said (even when it seems there’s success prior with other means—like it was with the disciples who couldn’t cast out a demon).
and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
Luke 2:36-38 (in Context) Luke 2 (Whole Chapter)
|)The Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit
14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16″What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19″O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:1-3 (in Context) Acts 13 (Whole Chapter)
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Acts 14:22-24 (in Context) Acts 14 (Whole Chapter)
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 25, 2008
As anyone seriously investigating my blog will quickly find out, I’m very much into things such as SOCIAL ACTION and recognizing the CALL THAT GOD HAS PLACED UPON THOSE CLAIMING THE NAME OF CHRIST TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE IN DOING IT—-and there are many other ministries that feel the same. One of them is entitled http://www.heavensfamily.org/ , which is very balanced, seeing that they’re not only for PREACHING/TEACHING the GOSPEL but the PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF LOVE/LIVING IT OUT AS LIVES TRANSFORMED BY THE GOSPEL AS WELL.
However, in researching all over the web, one of the main websites I love to visit brought up another ministry that struck me to the core. The name of the ministry is called Covenant Mercies (and their blog, http://newattitude.org/articles/mercy_to_the_orphan)— in connection with NEW ATTITUDE (with Joshua Harris and C.J Mahanney) and other ministries of that kind.
And this ministry was set up under the basis of seeking to be in line with the commands throughout the Bible to help the poor, the widows and the orphans.
For a basic description of the ministry from the website:
Covenant Mercies is a gospel-centered nonprofit organization established for the purpose of serving the poor, the orphan, the widow, and others facing severe adversity in its own Pennsylvania community and beyond. Please click the links to the left to learn more about the initiatives being undertaken through Covenant Mercies.
In His grace, God has been exceedingly merciful to us. Our Savior did not sit idly by while the world agonized in the ravages of sin, but in compassion He came and suffered with us. As His visible expression in the earth today, it is our joy to minister the compassion of our Lord Jesus to those around us who are in need. We invite your prayers for Covenant Mercies as we seek to walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10), to the praise of His glorious grace.
For a video of their ministry firsthand (
). As if this wasn’t enough to be dumbfounded by, I was so taken aback by a branch of their ministry entitled Orphans Initiatives. What this basically is is an Orphan Sponsorship Program that works hand in hand with local churches in Uganda and Zambia to help the many orphans there. For a basic description
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” Covenant Mercies is committed to seeing this biblical mandate lived out practically in the context of the local church. Through our Orphan Sponsorship Program, we work with local churches in Uganda and Zambia to facilitate care for hundreds of children by means of their extended families. Where no extended family is available, we construct orphans’ homes where the children can be raised in a normal family environment, integrated into the life of the local church and endowed not only with daily sustenance, but also with biblical instruction and a Christian upbringing.
It is our conviction that in certain cases, the best and most complete way to care for an orphaned child is to make him an orphan no longer through adoption. Covenant Mercies has worked with branches of the Mexican government to assist in matching orphaned children with loving adoptive families, and we hope to expand our adoption program to serve children in other nations as well, as doors are opened. Covenant Mercies’ vision for ministry to orphans includes:
* Enabling extended families of orphans to provide effective care through our Orphan Sponsorship Program
* Building orphans’ homes in cooperation with local churches in other nations
* Providing adoptive homes for orphaned children
* Providing Adoption Assistance grants for qualified families through our Orphans Fund
Also, for anyone interested, here’s an interview from the director of the ministry on the importance of the issue:
Today we’re introducing you to Covenant Mercies, a gospel-centered nonprofit organization serving the poor, the orphan, the widow, and others facing severe adversity. Doug Hayes blogs regularly for Na and is the executive director of Covenant Mercies. We love Doug’s understanding of how the gospel informs social action.
Here, Doug Hayes shares a simple story of how Covenant Mercies cared for a boy named Onyango…
One of the things I love most about my role as director of Covenant Mercies is the unique vantage point I enjoy, from which I can clearly see the connection between our donors’ generosity and the profound impact it is having on the ground where we’re working I love to point out what I see from this bird’s eye view, because I realize that few people have the opportunity to observe the impact of their giving as clearly as I’m able to see it.
Here’s an example of what I’m referring to… As a regular visitor to Uganda over the past five years, I have been stunned to learn just how many of my Ugandan friends have lost children due to disease and other causes. There are many things that separate my typical Western experience from their typical “developing world” experience, but none has been more personally jarring to me than this one. When I hear of a child dying, it is a shock to my system; a rare and unimaginable grief that I pray I’ll never know firsthand. For our Ugandan friends, on the other hand, this indescribable sadness is a common reality of life.
A few years ago, as this disparity of experience was becoming clear to me, I asked one of our Ugandan leaders to estimate the percentage of families living in that region who would have experienced the death of a child after childbirth. I was not prepared for his answer: “Over 80%,” he said. Thinking this could not possibly be accurate, I continued my inquiry, asking the same question to another of our leaders without informing him of the data I had already collected. “More than 90%,” he said. Could this really be true? Sadly, though my ensuing survey was admittedly unscientific, it seems that the death of a child is indeed a trauma experienced by the great majority of families in this region of Uganda.
Understanding this background provides a greater degree of appreciation for the story of a young boy named Onyango. In October 2003, I happened to be in Uganda when our indigenous director learned of this little boy and his plight. Both of Onyango’s parents had died the year before, leaving him in the care of his uncle who was alleged to be an alcoholic. When we went to see Onyango, the lack of adequate care was apparent from his severely malnourished condition. At that time, he could do no more than sit on a mat with a glazed look in his eyes. I will never forget the way he gobbled up some biscuits we had hurriedly purchased on our way, snatching them with his left hand as if he had not eaten in weeks. He used his left hand because the entire right side of his body was paralyzed, a disability that may have resulted from lack of proper nutrition combined with chronic, untreated malaria.
Upon ascertaining Onyango’s need, our staff began to search immediately for another extended family member who could take him in. After learning of an aunt who lived nearby, they quickly convinced her to begin looking after her nephew. We took Onyango to the medical clinic that day for emergency treatment, and thereafter he steadily recovered. Improved nutrition provided through the generosity of his sponsor, combined with the love and care he now receives as a member of one of our children’s home families (Onyango was not able to remain permanently with his aunt), have resulted in dramatic changes in this little boy’s life.
When I went to visit Onyango the following year, it was difficult to believe I was looking at the same little boy. Though full strength and mobility had not yet returned to the right side of his body (and still haven’t to this day), he was able to walk and he had regained some movement in his right arm. But that’s not what affected me most when I saw him; it was his eyes that told the greatest story. As the photo above attests, this is a little boy who now has hope and a reason to smile! Today, Onyango is known for his love of singing, and he’s typically the first one dancing – gimpy leg and all – on Sunday morning at church (see Onyango dancing here).
Each time I see Onyango today – especially when he’s dancing – I’m reminded in so many ways of the grace of God. If not for the eagerness of God’s people on one side of the world to excel in the grace of giving, combined with the eagerness of His people on the other side of the world to look after orphans and widows in their own community, Onyango would almost certainly have become another nameless piece of a tragic child mortality statistic. But because of the operation of God’s grace in the hearts of Christians both there and here, today we have a little boy whose mourning has been turned into dancing.
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:8-12)
Dance on, Onyango, and tell of His faithfulness!
And to all that, I say “Amen…and AMEN….”. I SERIOUSLY encourage EVERYONE TO PLEASE GET INVOLVED WITH THIS MINISTRY. For truly, it’s one of the greatest things I’ve heard of to date…..and an answer to prayer. So often it seems that much of the church, in an effort to combat things such as false teachings/immoralities of many kinds, have forgotten about the issues of PRACTICAL holiness and living for the Lord. And on the aformentioned things, you could do all of that and still be LOST if love was not involved in it.
If anyone else is wanting to have more info on the issue regarding ministries like those dealing with compassion/mercy issues, this other thread was great place to start that dealt with it greatly ( #113
(#100 , #101 ). On the issue of abortion, it’s amazing seeing how many churhes will rightfully preach against it…and yet they’ll end there. ANd they seem to forget that it was often due to feeling as if they couldn’t take care of the child ALONE or that any other options were available that they decided to abort anyhow. The church needs to rise up again and remember that this is what we were called to do, as I truly believe that ADOPTION is the KEY TO ENDING ABORTION (or at least, curttailing it SIGNIFICANTLY). America
This reminds me of some of the ministries I ran into during my time earlier this year at an event entitled the CALL (www.thecall.com, THE CALL: Should Others Call to it or should it be Called Off?–the latter one being from CARM and where you’ll have to register, for free, in order to view completely ), where there was a heavy focus on things such as this and the same kind of sentiments were repeated. And it was really cool to see that, for it seemed that the concept of adoption was the missing factor in what it means to take care of widows and orphans. And regarding the conference, Personally, I thought it was very powerful as people were praying (and hearing the testimonies of people on the issue—one being how some were praying outside of an Abortion Clinic with “tape over their mouths” and asking the Lord to shut it down/bring JUSTICE and eventually it did through their efforts….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAKU9smGC_U…and many other interesting things besides that). Their website can be found here,
these people had the zeal for God to take a public stand and cried out to God to change the place. I guess like Paul being in Athens and noting the horrendous idolatory everywhere, and being grieved in his spirit. However, to be clear, Paul did not stand outside the temples and pray for God to shut them down. And there was gross immorality going on in them. But he reasoned with men and preached the gospel to them. When he speaks to the Corinthians, one of the loveliest things he says after listing various kinds of immoralities is “and such were some of you”, which is a great encouragement that people can and do change by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the gospel. Paul’s preaching at one point upset the silversmiths (the idol makers) of the city, because many were turning away from idols. There is no mention that he took a group of people to pray outside the idol makers convention, and pray against it, but it was through the preaching of the gospel, that people were turning away from idols. All that to say, doesn’t mean that the people standing outside the Abortion Clinic didn’t preach the Gospel nor does it mean that what they did was insignificant either—–especially seeing that one of their greatest passions is ADOPTION being the key to dealing with abortion.
, what is it that the Church has been called to do? Is it not to be involved in the issues of our world as “SALT AND LIGHT“, to the point where our good deeds will cause others to glorify our father in HEAVEN?
Salt and Light
13″You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Was generosity/compassion encouraged in the church? Of course, but when I read, it seems primarily an issue of taking care of one another that’s of focus in the church:
The Fellowship of the Believers 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 6 is another example that I think would be good to examine
Doing What is Good1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. .
Galatians 6:6-10]Doing Good to All
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 25, 2008
To anyone concerned,
This will be the last post I’m placing up regarding the issue with Lakeland, Florida…and thoughts on Todd Bently. Rather than give you my thoughts alone (which are already jumbled enough at times as it is, though exhaustive), here’s something that I thought would be better: REFERRING YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE DONE GREATER WORK AND BETTER INSIGHT ON THE ISSUE.
First, the following are a list of solid teaching material on the issue of Spiritual Gifts and things regarding that topic so that the readers will have a solid foundation to stand upon when it comes to exercising discernment on issues (most of which are taken from one of the individuals I respect GREATLY in the Lord and his site, http://heatlight.wordpress.com/ )
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF SPIRIT BAPTISM? by Adrian Warnock (and also, in connection with Andrian, consider these online lectures from New Frontiers’ conference in the USA. NEW FRONTIERS CHURCH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE.)
Holy Laughter: blessing, curse, or something else? (An Excellent Discussion on the issue). There’s another by one lady entitled http://discerningtheworld.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/laughter-manifesations-are-neat/ . In the authors words:
- Using our Gifts in Proportion to our Faith part 1 (An excellent sermon on the prophetic, which I found Biblical, balanced, and challenging)
SUBSEQUENCE, & ARE THE SIGN GIFTS NECESSARY: A DEBATE (2 excellent PDF’s of essays by Jesse Phillips, whose site entitled RESURGENCE is truly one of the GREATEST AROUND). Also, for anyone interested, Is Prophecy the Same as Preaching (part 1)? & – Prophecy is NOT the Same as Preaching (part 2), which is also by Jesse Phillips at Resurgence and which is basically a marvelous two-part response to TeamPyro on whether, Biblically, Prophecy is the same thing as Preaching— a common Reformed Cessationist argument, flawed as well.
JOHN OWEN ON THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS. (Intriguing thoughts by J.I. Packer on the issue….though of course, I do not necessarily agree with it all, but interesting to study it remains nonetheless)
KNOWING HIM AND KNOWING ABOUT HIM (In other New Frontiers news, Terry Virgo).BOOKS ON THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (In which Lastly, C.J. Mahaney shares his favorite books on the issue) Others from the website:
: too much bloglove to even comment…read, quickly!HOW TO LISTEN TO A SERMON from The Blazing Center WHO IS THE KINGDOM FOR from The Gospel-Driven ChurchTHE CHARISMATIC QUESTION from Pulpit MagazineTHE BONDAGE OF GUIDANCE from Together for the Gospel
THE FAITH THAT ISN’T from Cerulean Sanctum
HAVING ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER from Challies.com
Audio & Video Messages from the Resurgence Conference: TEXT & CONTEXT
Others to consider (which are all audio, for those who are wanting something that they won’t have to read in-depth and just listen):
Concerning Spiritual Gifts – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Prophecy Today – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 1 – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 2 – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Discerning the Spirit – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Discerning the Spirit’s Guidance – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Empowered by the Spirit - Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
The Kingdom Triangle – J.P. Moreland/Vineyard Anaheim
All except the Apostles – Michael Fletcher/Manna Church
Convergence – Sam Storms/Sojourn Community Church
That said, here are the ones on Bently from those individuals I feel would be best to recommend on the issue:
TODD BENTLEY AND THE LAKELAND FLORIDA ‘REVIVAL MEETINGS’, from Adrian Warnock–a most insightful article on the issue….and who happens to be publishing Jesse Phillips series of detailed accounts from his visit, as Jesse has taken a break from blogging. First is, WORSHIP AT THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGS, followed by WHAT IS HAPPENING IN LAKELAND FLORIDA?, then JESSE PHILLIPS REFLECTS ON THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGS, MORE REFLECTIONS, with the FINAL THOUGHTS.
HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LAKELAND REVIVAL. (from Charisma’s editor, J. Lee Grady, possibly the most balance look at the so-called Lakeland Revival I have read yet)
Lakeland, Florida, & aptly, Lakeland Florida (continued). (from Terry Virgo, leader of New Frontiers International, who has posted a two part blog-post entitled—considering the man’s a solid ‘reformed charismatic’ -and has given an excellent response on the issue)
In line with that, these too are noteworthy:
Lakeland – real revival?
As another wisely said on them (And his stance I hold the same too):
I don’t agree with all that’s written below – in fact, some I disagree with, but they are helpful perspectives to get a bigger picture of what’s happening:
There is much to take in, but I will let these speak for themselves: real people, honest thoughts, sincere emotions…seeking the truth. Some have left the church entirely and are taking one last peak inside, some are in the middle of the excitement yet voicing concerns, some are sympathetic but have questions, and others are diametrically opposed. Read, pray, listen. Amen.
To that, I say AMEN…….going along with that, from that same individual, here’s an article that I thought would be benefical to all the readers here on this blog
Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 25, 2008
If anyone kept up, earlier I shared some of my thoughts on PRISON MINISTRY and why it seems those with giftings in those paticular areas/giftings (i.e. gifts of encouragement, helping others, administration, mercy, etc) don’t get recognized as much. Personally (though in Florida God may be doing many great things), I’m waiting for the day when there’ll be as much excitment about getting involved in the lives of the Black Community and seeing them rise up—-the fatherless being taken care of through adoption/people with solid families interacting in their lives and showing them how to be men, widows being married instead of baby-daddies going about their way and women no longer believing their being on welfare/medicaid makes them inherently less of a woman/worthless than others, folks coming out of poverty/no longer WIPPING THEMSELVES OUT THROUGH ABORTION, etc. And for that matter, prayerfully for those focused on Florida there’ll be more excitment/coverage and support of things many Christians in the U.S are doing which seem to get less than they deserve. One example would be things such as this street ministry called TEEN CHALLENGE:
|Wilkerson was convicted by an article in Life Magazine about a Gang slaying in New York City. And then after some years of providing an intense “discipling” type of ministry to gangs in NYC concentrating on getting ‘em saved, and Spirit filled started to branch out. “Cross and Switchblade” is the account of the early days of the ministry.
By independent evaluation the TC “success rate” based on hard-core addicts who enter the TC program, and successfully complete it is just over 86% STILL “clean” 5 years after “graduating”.
They are now operating in 6 Muslim countries partnering with “Global Renewal” (Pakistan was the first one) under a unique set of governmentally approved ground rules: The Muslim addicts coming into the program are encouraged to pray to Allah for themselves, and then the Teen Challenge staff then prays in the Name of Jesus – and the folks in the program can experience for themselves who actually “delivers the goods”, moves in power and delivers – and subsequently accept Jesus as Saviour and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
To see more info, go here:http://teenchallengeusa.com/
Many of these kats who came in of course are dealing with sinful behaviors which are by-products of their drup/substance abuse habits…..and yet they’ve been set free. Many who’ve done street preaching have perhaps preached to these kats and they were still unable to get set free. They knew they were already going to Hell and that they were in Trouble, yet that didn’t set them free. Getting “down & dirty”/involved with those kats made a huge difference, loving them where they were and seeing them come clean eventually. Of course these things are happening among racial minorities…and in fact, regarding Florida, many kats I know of are doing these very things. As said previously, many of the individuals who’re in these same revivals getting attention, though the excess are an issue, are the ones going out & ministering to the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting people in prision, and walking in the power of God/impacting folks for the Lord. Not all, of course…..but there are many and the presence of some bad apples shouldn’t be allowed to represent the rest in the bunch. Have friends and family–like my friend named Mrs.Harris who’s all for what’s going down in Florida Revival and all the kats like Bickle, Todd Bently, Patrica King, etc……and yet, despite how the excess bothers me/needs to be adressed, she does youth work in a detention center/correctional facility. She works with the kids who were the runaways, prostitutes, and ones no one else wishes to work with. She seeks to promote racial renconcilliation, seeing that she’s white and the majority of her girls are black…and though the culture gap makes it hard at times to relate, they still see/appreciate her encouragements/being REAL with them as she’s daily in the trenches praying for them/building them up in the Lord. She and others have prayed over their campus/against things, and many miraculous things have happened in the past 3yrs—from having a very strong WICCAN Prescence on the grounds disappear/dwindle to having more solid Christian Staff come aboard and support from those even in the secular camps because of their astounding work.
We both have seen healings, wonders, and has been a TREMENDOUS blessing to me in my walk with the Lord Jesus. But again, this isn’t something that seems as common in Black CULTURE as what happens in many of the circles of folks involved at Florida. And many of them I think would benefit from seeing the miraculous/those who’re gifted in working wonders (and if you recall, I believe we discussed this in another thread when I brought up the instances of folks dealing with sin issues being touched by the power of God/Changed—one guy I saw during my tour of “The CALL” in Alabama shared his testimony of how the Power of God freed him of his addictions… http://video.google.com/videosearch?…ny&sitesearch= and I’ve heard/seen personally many others like that which have been a huge blessing to me. But in thinking about the Florida Movement, there are times when I cannot help but wonder “Man, Lord…all of those healings/wonders taking place down there with people apparently being saved—–and I wonder why it’s not happening on the streets where many of these kats may need it most, seeing that we’re preaching the Gospel/TRUTH to them and doing best as we can
We’re seeking to Beware of hype and exaggeration seeing that J. Lee Grady from Charisma best said said, “some of the language used during the Lakeland Revival has created an almost sideshow atmosphere. People are invited to “Come and get some.” Miracles are supposedly “popping like popcorn.” Organizers tout it as the greatest revival in history.’…….Such brash statements cheapen what the Holy Spirit is doing—and they do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing New Testament-style revival in countries such as Iran, China and India. And We have a long way to go before we experience their level of revival. Let’s stay humble and broken before the Lord…..Miracles are awesome. Crowds are great. But miracles and crowds alone don’t guarantee a revival. Multitudes followed Jesus during His ministry on earth, but many of the people who saw the dead raised or ate food that was supernaturally multiplied later crucified the Son of God. It was the few disciples who followed Jesus after Calvary who ushered in a true revival—one that was bathed in the fear of God, confirmed by signs and wonders, tempered by persecution and evidenced by thousands of conversions, new churches and the transformation of society. We should expect nothing less.
.but man, if they could only see something more to know how REAL YOU ARE AND HOW COOL YOUR POWER TO HEAL/DELIVER IS!!”
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (in Context) 1 Corinthians 2
Should there come a time when Miraculous Signs and WOnders accompanying the GOSPEL (Acts 14:2-4 (in Context) Acts 14 )
happen in more urban/impoverished camps Or in the GHETTO/PROJECTS as well, marvelous…..but it doesn’t seem to happen enough. And till then, I can only HOPE…AND BE GLAD THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD WORKS IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE—AND IF THE GOSPEL’S BEING PREACHED, I REJOICE NONETHELESS SINCE THAT’S THE GREATEST WONDER–A SOUL CONVERTED/ON FIRE FOR THE LORD AND IN TOUCH WITH HIS LOVE