FAQ ON FAITH

THE BIBLE
What the Protestants call the Apocrypha is Canonical books for the Orthodox churches and so we have more than 66 books in the Bible. Even the 0. T. Canon was closed only in 100 A. D. in the Council of Jamnia, 13 miles south of Jaffa. The Jews of the Dispersion regarded the Apocryphal books also as Scriptures. During the first three centuries these books were regularly used in the Christian Churches also. St. Athanasius was one of the first fathers of the church who limited the list of scriptural books into 66 in his list. Jerome of the Western Church (342-420) had a tremendous influence in limiting the canonical books as 72. In accordance with the Hebrew Canon only 66 books. The Trent Council declared the Vulgate as the authoritative Latin Scripture of the Roman Catholic Church. Whether canonical or Deutero canonical, the apocrypha has great value. The so-called Apocryphal books, the Books of Maccabees contain prayers for the departed more unambiguously than the prayer of St. Paul in II Tim. 1: 18 for the departed Onesiphorus. The Fathers of the Church have quoted from these books which are not regarded Canonical by the Protestants. To the Orthodox Churches, therefore, there are more than 66 books which are canonical.
'The Bible to teach, the Church to interpret' is a good dictum. St. Peter has clearly pointed out how ignorant men twist the scripture to their own destruction (Read II Pet. 3: 15-17). In the same passage St. Peter adds, 'You therefore, beloved, knowing this before hand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.' The historic churches have a stability which sectarian groups want to shake by their unwarranted interpretations of certain scriptural passages. The reality of the Holy Spirit as a dependable Guide of the Church against which the Gates of hell shall not prevail is not taken seriously by the new sects which regard the Church since Constantine as in 'Babylonia captivity.' The correctives that come through individualistic interpretations will be slowly absorbed into the Church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, if they are real correctives. The mistakes in the interpretation of the Scriptures as those of Arius will be rejected by the Church under the same Holy Spirit. In fact, the Johannine tradition in the Orthodox. ethics, the Petrine tradition in the Roman Catholic substance and the Pauline stress in the Protestant principle are three interpretations of the one church, maintained in three dimensions, but they will be integrated in the one ecumenical church in the making by the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Sectarian groups have only a corrective role and they should beware of rejecting the age old traditional interpretations of the Bible. After all, the Bible is that of the Church primarily and it belongs to the Christian on the authority the church has given to it in and through the canonization of the Scriptures. The Bible must be read in the context of the Church and within the theological circle of the church and not individualistically.
The Bible is only a part of the Holy Tradition of the Church. Hence the commandment of St. Paul to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thes. 2:15). The Christian Church came into existence at least thirty years before the first book of the N.T. was written. Our Lord Himself showed in the Sermon on the Mount with His frequent 'But I say unto you' that His authority was greater than that of Moses who gave the Hebrews the Ten Commandments. Our Lord also knew that there ought to be a greater authority than any written book or time-bound teachings and so He said, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth...." (Jn. 16: 12-15). This maybe the reason for nut revealing the Mystery of Trinity fully in the Holy Bible. Even the word 'Trinity' does not appear in the Scriptures. The Holy Bible gives only the data of Trinity and not the full theology of Trinity. Those who hold on to the obsolete theory called 'sola scriptura' (only the 'Scripture' are legion and their interpretations are legion. A proof text can be found in the Bible for heretical sects like 'Sabbath Mission' who teach that Saturday is to be observed as Sabbath and not Sunday or Jehovah's witnesse's who deny the doctrine of Trinity, or the Pentecostal groups who war between themselves on minor issues like speaking in tongues or millennium as post or pre and so on. The Bible is quoted by heretics and the orthodox from the time of Arius and St. Athanasius. We must not fall a prey to those who want proof-texts for all the teachings of the Church. Theology is based on the Bible, but not limited by the Bible. Bible and Tradition are together the primary source of theology. (Gal. 1: 8; Col. 4:16; Heb. 2:1; Jn 21: 25; Trent Council, Sess. IV, 8 Apr. 1546).
DOCTRINAL
All speculations and laboratory tests for proving God, soul, and immortality objectively are futile as God and soul are not objects to be tested by objective tests. Faith in the risen Christ is the basis for our faith in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. No one has come to us from God except Jesus Christ and so He alone can tell us anything authentic about God and eternity. We have to believe what He said, "I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, you may also be." (Jn. 14: 1; 3). Christian do not believe in the transmigration of the soul as Hinduism does. Christian escatology is based on the resurrection of Christ as first fruit from among the dead. I Cor.15 gives clear description of the nature of resurrection body. 'What is sown is perishable, and what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.. .." (42). There is continuity of life and personality, but discontinuity of the body in the world to come. The child in the womb has physical organs not used in the womb, Similarly we have spiritual organs not fully used in history. The worm that becomes a butterfly has the same life but a new body. In the same manner, the worm-like individual buried, rises up as a butterfly like person with organs fit for eternity. When Jesus rose again from the dead on the third day he assumed a glorious body which could enter the room when the room was shut. (Jn. 20: 26). In the same manner, we will rise again at the the end of history when Christ would come again, with the glorious bodies fit for life in the new heaven and the new earth. Hence we are not afraid of death. Death is the last enemy already conquered by the crucified and risen Christ. "Death is swallowed in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?....Thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15; 54). The resurrection of Christ has removed the venomous sting from the serpent of death. The return of Christ is to judge the living and the departed, according to the Nicene Creed, which is the one creed of the one church universal. Our hope is based on our faith in the Incarnate Son of God. He Who is eternal, Who entered history at the center of it and divided it into B.C. and A.D. has gone ahead of us to prepare many mansions for us and so we need not doubt life after death. The mystery of gaining our life is in our readiness to lose our life for Him and the Gospel. (Mt. 1: 39). If we live a natural life, we are mortal, but if we live a supernatural life we become immortal. Our self-surrender to Christ is a pre-requisite for eternal life here and now and finally in the world to come.
The right type of Mariology is to give her the due place of the God-bearer (Theotokos) and to exalt her as the early church and the Scriptures have exalted her. The Roman Catholic practice of praying ten 'Hail Mary... ' for each Lord's prayer seems to be too much and the Protestant refusal to pray that prayer is giving her too little a place. Similarly, the doctrine of Immaculate conception is unscriptural and the bodily assumption of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) is not a dogma in the Orthodox Churches. The prayer, 'Hail Mary....' is taken from the invocation of Gabriel at the time of the Annunciation (Lk. 1:28), from the greeting of Elizabeth when Mary visited her in her home (Lk. l: 42), and the exclamation of a woman in the crowd when Our Lord was preaching (Lk. 11: 28). There is nothing wrong in the petition at the end to 'pray for us sinners, now and the time of our death.' (See answer to question number 6). The Scriptural basis for the efficacy of the intercession of the BVM is the incident of the intercession at the wedding in Cana (Jn. 2). Although Our Lord said that his time for performing miracles had not come, he performed his first miracle in response to the request of His mother. The tradition of the church is also very strong that the earliest churches of Christendom have been in the name of the BVM. She is the queen of saints and so her invocation is made before that of any other saint in the liturgy of all the ancient churches. The fact that Jesus loved her till His last breath is evident in His thoughtfulness to commit her to the care of John the apostle (Jn. 19: 25-27). If the so-called brothers of Jesus (Mt. 13:55) were the children of BVM herself, they would have taken her to their house when Jesus breathed His last. They were, according to one tradition, the children of Joseph in a previous marriage. The BVM bad a unique place in the life of Jesus and so her intercession has a unique power. Hence it is perfectly in order to pray "Hail Mary, full of grace..."
Certain Pentecostal sects forbid their members from using medicines and condemn others who use medicines as of inferior faith. This is definitely unwise and unscriptural. "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good." (Gen. 1: 31). All the various medicines have been made from the herbs or other materials God has created for the good of man. Any ayurvedic eye doctor would say that when Jesus 'spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay' {Jn. 9: 6), he was using medicine for healing of the eyes. The mission hospitals around the world are in obedience of the Lord's command, 'heal the sick' (Mt. 10: 8). The Good Samaritan who had compassion on the wounded traveler did not offer a prayer for healing and pass along, but 'Bound up his wounds pouring oil and wine' (Lk. 10: 34), and entrusted him to the inn, which was a hospital of those days. Our Lord Himself has said, that it is the sick who need the doctor. (Mk. 2: 17; Lk. 5:31). Both prayer and medicines are powerful for healing and both should be used with no prejudice against one or the other. Even if healing comes through the use of medicine, the source of all healing is God Himself. (Jer. 30: 17). Hezekiah the king was sick unto death, but healing came through the application of the cake of figs to the boil as commissioned by God through Isaiah (38: 1-22). It is therefore, wrong to test the Lord by refusing to use His gift of medicines. Our only trust must be in the Lord even while going to the doctor and acting as wise as a serpent. 'It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man' (Ps. 118:8). The only prayer of the patient must be 'Thy will be done.'
The canonical prayers are written down in all the ancient churches, but silent prayers and extemporaneous prayers have also their place in the orthodox traditions. Prayer is communion with God alone or in communion with the church. Written prayers are an aid to prayer as they are very rich in their contents and were written down by people of greater spirituality than ourselves. Mechanical repetition or parrot-like recitation of written prayers are not what is expected of the faithful, but slow praying with real concentration. Prayers are in the mother tongue in the major Orthodox churches. Written prayers prevent us from our natural tendency to be selfish in submitting our own needs before God without a penitential heart. We are allowed to write down our own prayers for our on discipline and spiritual growth. The written prayers are full of contrition, praise, intercession and invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. They have many allusions to the Holy Spirit. They give us a sense of the unity of the church. While we pray the written canonical prayers we are in solidarity with the saints of all time and all places who have prayed the same prayers. There are also written prayers for special occasions like visitation of the sick, house visitation, birthday celebration, wedding anniversary etc. Those who have the ability and grace to offer brief and appropriate extemporaneous prayers are not forbidden from doing so. We must cultivate the habit of both canonical and extemporaneous prayers in in addition to silent meditation which is of ultimate Importance. In all our prayers there must be adoration of the Holy Trinity, the overflowing love towards Jesus Christ our Savior, the power of the Holy Spirit, Who teaches us to pray. It is better to use written prayers when large number of people are worshipping and extemporaneous prayers in small groups in small fellowship meetings. As St. Paul says, 'all things must be done decently and in order' (I Cor. 14: 39).
The uniqueness of orthodoxy is that it includes what Paul Tillich calls the catholic substance and the protestant principle. If ecclesiology is both hierarchical. and democratic as the rule is synodical and not either Papal with the power of the Pope to veto the decision of the synod, nor mere democratic wherein the majority decides everything. The word and the sacraments, the preaching and the celebration of the Eucharist, the married priests with the celibate priests, the solidarity of the bishop with the laity, the infallibility of the whole church instead of either that of papacy or of the bible, the due place of the bible with the tradition, the historic episcopate with the necessary 'oxios' (he is worthy) response of the laity in the ordination service, the belief in the real presence of Christ in the eucharistic elements without the elimination of the mystery concept in any transubstantiation or consubstantiation theory of the eucharist, the discipline of the Nicene Creed's binding character without any ex-cathedra statement, the continuing practice of long services in the church and of strict fasts as prescribed by the church etc., are parts of what we call the 'orthodox ethos.' If orthodoxy regains its stress on mission which it once had but gradually lost due to various vicissitudes of history, orthodoxy will be used by the Holy Spirit to show to the rest of Christendom what the reunited church should be. The faith of the undivided Church is still discernible more clearly in the orthodox churches than in the Roman Catholic or the Protestant traditions. Hence the orthodox churches have a unique contribution to make for the reunion of Christendom in its historical continuity. But for the vitality of orthodox worship and the monastic movement, the church in the Soviet Union would have been swept away by Communism. The uniqueness of orthodoxy is a phenomenon for which orthodoxy cannot be proud of, but must humbly praise the Triune God, in Whose mercy alone is her existence.
Private or auricular confession before a priest a sacrament of great benefit if rightly conducted. Christ has given the authority of remitting or forgiving the sins to the apostles (Mt.18: 18, Jn. 20: 22; James 5: 16). Aachan had to confess before Joshua as confession before God (Josh. 7:19) though it was not sufficient to save him from punishment as it was before the atoning death of Christ for the sins of the whole of humanity. True confession is also a pastoral counseling. Absolution by the priest gives the assurance. Expression prevents suppression and the consequent repression of pardon and a new song in the heart. Genuine confession must be with full confidence in the father confessor, with utter frankness and a sincere desire to forsake the sins confessed and to start a new life of purity and usefulness. Authentic confession ends with unconditional surrender to Christ. There are many who think that in stopping the practice of private confession the Protestant brethren were throwing away the baby with the bath-water. No doubt medieval practice of confession and the sale of indulgences needed to be reformed. Even today, there are many formal and routine practices of confession which need to be reformed, but confession as such is very useful and must be preserved for all those who have some guilty feeling to be shared and absolved. Self-examination asked for in I Cor. 11:27 would make us realize that there are hidden sins in us to be confessed. The best proof for the need of confession would be a trial of making a sincere and outspoken confession before a priest in whom one has full confidence. That would convince one of its efficacy. There is no other sacrament which gives so much of relief of the heart and the joy of forgiveness (Read Ps. 32; Prov. 28: 13; Lk. 15: 20-24).
The 0. T. priesthood with bloody sacrifice ended with Jesus Christ and became the New Testament priesthood without bloody sacrifice. Christ is the end of the Law and the beginning of the Gospel. His own sacrifice with His own blood was accepted by the Father as the one and only sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and the same sacrifice of Calvary is perpetuated and continued in the Holy Eucharist in the Church. The Holy Eucharist is not any new sacrifice, nor the repetition of the sacrifice of Calvary, but the continuation of the Unique sacrifice of the eternal Son of God. The Epistle to the Hebrews develops this theme of the eternal priesthood of Christ according to the order of Melchizedec and the all sufficiency of His Sacrifice. St. Paul says that Christ our paschal Lamb has been sacrificed. (I Cor. 5: 7). Those who agree that Christ is priest, prophet, and king will have to agree that when the Holy Spirit was breathed on the apostles with the words, "As my Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn. 20: 22), He sent His apostles as priests, prophets, and kings. The Paschal Lamb slain once for all must be eaten till He comes again and so the same sacrifice must continue till His parousia. To St. Paul, even mission to the Gentiles was 'the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit' (I Cor. 1: 16). The Didache, the teaching of the Twelve Apostles, (2nd century A. D.) makes special mention of the 'high priests.' It is strange to think that Christ the Head is the High priest and that the Church the body has no priesthood. The Church which is called by St. Peter, 'the royal priesthood' (I Pet. 2: 9) is the continuation of the Old Israel with new meaning put into the concept of priesthood by the Lord of the Church. The general priesthood of the faithful will be lost if there is no special priesthood in the church as it has happened to the fundamental groups and sects. Priesthood in the Church is meaningful as the Holy Eucharist is a continuing sacrifice because there is no priesthood if there is no sacrifice. The priesthood of Christ is interceding before the Father in heaven and the priesthood in the Church is interceding to the Father on earth for the members of the church and the whole world. The crucified and risen Christ is manifesting His own priesthood through the apostles just as the brain is functioning through the Central Nervous System. The Holy Spirit is the chief functionary of priesthood in the Church as the Heart in the Body. If this analogy is taken seriously, the special priesthood is like the arteries and the veins for the purification of the body and the life of the body. Jesus Christ has not ended with death and priesthood did not end with the historic Jesus. (Read Hebrews 5 - 7; Jn. 17; Rev. 13: 8; St. Cyprian's Epistle 61)
Christos means the 'anointed one' and it is the Greek form of Hebrew Messiah, which meant the same thing. Anointment with oil was the usual custom in the N. T. period (Lk. 7: 38; 46). Perhaps oil was used in the laying on of hands by the apostles to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit and heal. (Acts 6: 14-17; 9: 12, 17; 28: 8). The surety that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit is not a psychological emotional experience as ecstatic utterances with tongues, but an objective anointment of the Holy Muron (oil) by the valid ministry of the Church. The Holy Spirit, freely given to us at the Confirmation which goes with baptism, has to be rekindled in us by our prayerful waiting upon the Lord, holy life, prayer and fasting etc. (II Tim. 1: 6). Just as some people who speak with tongues become backsliders, some of the Christians who were anointed with Holy Oil also will become back-sliders. The Holy Spirit, freely given to the Church, is at work on all who are grafted to the Church in baptism and confirmation, without distinction of age, but the responsibility to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22) remains with them. The tree is known by the fruit and not by the leaves of gifts or charisma. The assurance of the anointment of the Holy Spirit is neither subjective alone, nor objective alone, but both. Our own experience of new life and sanctification must be noted by others also, though their objective judgment alone is not final. Two or more witnesses including ourselves and others must be amazed at the overflow of agape, heavenly love in us as the fruit of the Spirit. The sign of tongues or healing gift without agape is not a sure sign of the Spirit's anointment. If any one is full of the Spirit, he is a new creation with a new relationship with the Triune God and a new relation with others and a new joy of personal assurance of having been accepted by God in the power of the Spirit.
According to the Bible there is no other name under the heavens except the name of Jesus for the salvation of man (Act. 4: 12). Christ Himself said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn. 14: 6). Jesus Christ is not a local Savior, but the Savior of the world (Lk. 2:11; Jn. 4:42). The prologue of the fourth Gospel equates the incarnate Savior with the eternal Word (Logos) who was in the world even before the Incarnation (Jn. 1: 10). Therefore, wherever there is salvation, the Logos is at work. The Incarnation is the clear yardstick with which God and man is to be measured. Salvation of those who act according to the conscience or according to their knowledge of truth will be perfected beyond history by the same Logos-Christ (I Pet. 3: 19; 4: 6). 

    The teaching of the Fathers, "outside the Church there is no salvation" has also to be understood as outside the invisible Church known to the Trinity alone. The preaching of Christ is the God-given task of the Church to make Christ known to the whole of humanity that through Him all may have abundant life (Jn. 10: 10). Concerning the salvation of non-Christians read Rom. 2: 25-29; Mt. 25: 31-46; Phil. 2: 10. 'The scandal of particularity of Christianity, that in Jesus of Nazareth alone dwelt the fullness of Godhead bodily is not something about which we have to be apologetic. It is the real strength of the Christian doctrine that God has entered history and divided it into B. C. and Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord) and has the one necessary dependable criterion about perfect God and perfect man. Jesus Christ is the proper name of God. He is the fulcrum on which the lever of the Church has to lift the fallen world by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the Sun of Righteousness whose light is being reflected by all saints of all religions of all time. He is the richest God who became the poorest Man on earth and is now adored as the richest and the poorest at the same time as the God-Man. Any impartial onlooker of the march of history can easily discern that history is His Story and that there is hardly any good in the world which is not related to Him, directly as Christ or indirectly as the Logos. Inspire of the wars that have been waged in the name of the Church, His healing touch seen in all the continents and islands of the world as schools, colleges, hospitals etc.


If there is God, He has to be Eternal and so no one can make Him. "Only through God can God be known" (Emil Brunner). 'No one has seen God, the only Son, made Him known' (Jn. l: 18). The so-called arguments to prove God such as ontological, teleological cosmological and moral are only the expression of the universal quest after God and Revelation is the answer. We can see God only through the eyes of faith and not through the naked eye as the latter is to see the objects God has made. If God is God, He has to be beyond objectivity which can be proved by objective proofs and beyond subjectivity to be understood by introspection, because He must include all objects and all subjects and everything visible and invisible in all the universe and beyond them. Pure reason cannot prove God or soul or immortality as clearly shown by Immanuel Kant. God has to be believed in order to be understood. This is called analogy of faith. Analogy of being from the lowest to the highest beyond which a higher cannot be conceived is possible only if we start with faith. Read Rom. 1: 19 and then 20. Here Karl Barth seems to be profounder than Thomas Aquinas. Rationalism can be used for proving God if reason is itself purified by the grace of God. Some are using: reason to defend atheism as their reason is haughty and proud without recognizing its limitation by time, space, causality and modality. The only way to see God as He is by looking unto the person and work of Jesus Christ, in Whom dwelt the fullness of Godhead bodily (Col. 2: 9). "Watts discovered and applied the expulsive power of steam and set thousands of wheels humming, Jesus of Nazareth discovered and applied the expulsive power of a new affection and set millions of human hearts singing." Christ says, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."


The Holy Trinity is not the discovery of human reason, but the self-revelation of God through the Jewish monotheism, Christian experience of Jesus Christ as the very God of very God and the Holy Spirit as True God. The Holy Trinity is neither Tritheism nor exclusive monotheism, but the fullness of the Godhead as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One in Three and Three in One. Any understanding of God as other than Trinity is only a partial understanding of God, partially discovered by the devotee and not fully disclosed by God Himself. There is no Truth more ultimate than the Trinity as it is the final truth about God disclosed by God Himself through the Incarnation, the Pentecost and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    (a) Though the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, all the data of the Trinity such as God's unity (Dt. 6: 4; Mk. 12: 29), the Fatherhood of God (Mt 5: 48; 6: 26; Mk. 13: 32; Lk. 10: 22; Jn. 1: 14 etc..),  the Godhead of the Son (Jn. 1:1-18; 20:28; Act. 20:28; Phil 2-5; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; Col. 2:9; Jn. 10:30; 1 Jn 5:20; Tit. 2:13; 22:13) and the Godhead of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1: 35; Act.2: 17; 5: 3-5; Jn. 5: 5-8 ; 16: 7-15) are clearly seen in .the Holy Writings. Furthermore, there are Trinitarian passages such as the Baptismal formula (Mt. 28: 19) and the Benediction (II Cor. l3: l4) in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equated.

     There is no way of explaining the central Christian teaching 'God is love' (I Jn. 4: 8) without the doctrine of Trinity. God has to be Trinity if He is Eternal God in eternal action of love as a Monad cannot be love in action, a Diad in love is not sharing their love on a third point, but only giving and receiving love. All the elements of love are present in 360 degrees of Trinity. The love of a nuclear family makes the family three and one at the same time.

    The Cappadocian Fathers explained the Trinity as one essence or substance and three hypostases or persons. This is too philosophical to understand and so we may say that God is one Eternal Nuclear Family with God the Eternal Father, Christ the Eternal Son and Holy Spirit the Eternal Mother. These three have a deep solidarity and unity in the unity of the Family. God is one Person with the Conation of the Father, the Cognition of the Son and the Affection of the Holy Spirit. God is one Mind, with the Father as the Unconscious Mind, the Son as the Conscious Mind and the Holy Spirit as the Subconscious Mind. Hegelian dialectics of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis is found in the One Godhead.

    God does not lack unity or plurality as He is the Trinity. If He is not Trinity, there was a time when His love was not in action, but only potential as Monad has nothing to love. God is not a growing God whose potentiality was once without actuality, and then grew into actuality with the creation of angels or man. Furthermore, the command "be ye therefore perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect", is the command to grow to the unity and solidarity of the Family hood of God. God is a Co-Being, Being and not an exclusive person. The command to become perfect is both personal and social as God Himself. If God is Nirguna Brahma of Kevaladvaita, He is not Love. If He is Love, He is Trinity. There is no uniqueness in Christian theology without the uniqueness and centrality of the doctrine of Trinity. It is the only all-inclusive teaching about God.


The Apostles Creed says, "We believe in the Communion of Saints." It means that we are in communion with the saints living and departed as both belonging to one body of Christ, the Church. Any perfect prayers includes the whole church here and beyond.

    (a) The Believers in Christ have had the eternal life here itself (Jn. 3. 16) and they have no death (Jn. 11:26). We are not praying for the dead, but for the departed ones.

    (b) The departed are with the Lord (Col. 3: 1) and around us as a cloud of witnesses and so they can hear our prayers (Heb. 12: 1, 22). We are seated in heaven (Eph. 2:6).

    (c) The church, being the one and only body of Christ, has the blood circulation of prayer from which no part of the body is excluded (Rom. 12: 4-5; I Cor.12: 12 etc).

    (d) Ps. 115: 17 must be read with the following verse which says, "but we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore." In Rev. 7: 13-17 we see the saints praying to God day and night in their departed status.

    (e) Even the wicked rich man in Hades prayed for his five brothers (Lk. 16: 28). The gulf between Hades and Paradise was bridged by the descent of Christ to Hades soon after His crucifixion (I Pet. 3: 18; 4: 6),.Christ preached to the disobedient souls.

    (f) In the 0. T. period prayers for the departed was a common practice. (Dt. 34: 8). There are clear prayers for the departed souls in II Maccabees 12: 44-46.

    (g) "Blessed be he by the Lord, whose kindness. has not forsaken the living or the dead" (Ruth 2: 20).The Love of God is everlasting and knows no limits. (I Cor. 13: 8, 13)

    (h) St. Paul prayed for the departed Onesiphorus (II Tim 1:18, 4: 19). The New English Bible adds "I pray" in this verse. The form itself is that of the usual prayer for the departed. See Dummalow Commentary on this text.

    (i) Can the children forget their parents when they are buried? (I Tim. 5: 4). Is it possible not to pray for the loving departed? Love demands that we pray for them and leave the result to Him.

Refusing to pray for the faithful departed: Biblical or not? (Click here)


None of the ancient churches questions the rightness of the practice of infant baptism. It was the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century who started re-baptizing those who had received infant baptism and the church catholic has rejected their doctrinal deviations. We can show that infant baptism is right in many ways.

    (a) Mk. 16: 16 is not in all ancient manuscripts. Mk. 16: 9-19 is a later interpolation. (See brackets or the RSV small scripts). Even if it was said by Our Lord, He did not think of infants when He said it as the verse says that he who does not believe will be condemned. Was He saying that infants will be condemned? No. Mk. 16; 16 is only about the converts from outside the Church and not about the second generation Christians. The Bible does not have a single reference to show that the children of certain families remained un-baptized till they became grown-ups and then get baptized.

    (b) There are about five families mentioned as baptized in the Acts and Corinthians (Acts. 10:48; 16: 15, 38; 18: 8 and 1 Cor. 1: 16) and it is unimaginable that only the adults of those families were baptized. It is unthinkable from the Jewish practice of regarding the family as unit and not the individual. {When Achan sinned, the whole family was stoned to death Josh. 7). So infants were baptized in N. T. times.

    (c) Children can receive blessing without believing. (See John the Baptist leaping in the womb filled with the Holy Spirit Lk. 1: 41; Jesus blessing the infants brought to Him by the mothers Mk. 10:13, 16 etc.) If  infants can receive the blessings of laying of hands by the Lord, they can also receive baptismal grace of regeneration. The theology behind this is that grace precedes faith (Eph. 2: 8) and prevenial grace is a reality. The initiative is from God always. If God takes the first step in dying for us, He also takes the first step in saving through the free gift of regeneration without the precondition of faith. Our duty is only to respond and to reciprocate by faith and obedient life.

    (d) The analogy of Circumcision: When Circumcision was started in the Jewish Community through Abraham and Ismael, both were grown ups, 99 and 13 years each (Gen. 17: 12, 24-27). From the time of Isaac it is in the eight day that circumcision is given (21: 4; Lev. 12: 3). Our Lord was also circumcised on the eighth day (Lk. 2: 21). As the connecting link between Judaism the Old Israel and Christianity the New Israel, He submitted Himself both to Circumcision and Baptism. To the Christian, however. Baptism is Circumcision (Col. 2: 11). The Jerusalem Council decided that the Jews and the Gentiles needed only baptism to be incorporated to the Body of Christ (Acts. 15). Unlike circumcision, baptism is given to the women also as in Christ man and woman are equal in status as Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3: 27)

    (e) Other arguments in favor of infant baptism include inherent holiness of the children of Christian parents (I Cor. 7: 14), justification by grace as a gift which does not regard age-bar for salvation (Rom 3: 24), the presence of little children in the early church (I. Jn. 2: 1, 12, 13, 18), the tradition of church's practice, the example of Polycarp and others who were baptized as infants.., (See 3 Doctrinal Truths by the author in Malayalam). It is clear that God wills infants' baptism.

Other Good Articles about Infant Baptism:

 

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7067.asp

http://www.ephesus.com/Orthodox/InfantBaptism.html


HERMANEUTICAL QUESTIONS - Biblical Interpretation
It is the model prayer in which God is addressed as 'Our Father' and not as 'my Father' and the basic needs of all of humanity are submitted before God in solidarity with them. The three petitions for God's glory are followed by four petitions for man's needs, namely provision, pardon, protection and preservation. All these are in the first person plural and the first person singular does not appear in the whole prayer. The invocation and the doxology imply that the Father Who art in heaven has kingship over his kingdom, power over our weakness and all the glory for Himself. It is a proletarian prayer asking daily bread for all of humanity and not yearly provisions for any or daily cake for the one who prays. 'Give us this day our daily bread' means: 'Lord, divide all the bread of all the world for all the people of all the world and give all the people justly without giving any more than one's share.' This daily bread includes food, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, work, and spiritual food. No one has any right to enjoy luxury when fellowmen are deprived of these minimum necessities of life. But provision without pardon of sins will not be sufficient. Yet we must not preach pardon to the empty stomach without feeding them, but give provision and pardon their due places in the totality of human existence. The only conditional prayer in the whole prayer is the prayer for pardon; 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' The pardon of the Lord cannot be appropriated by an un-pardoning hard heart and so we must forgive those who have offended us before praying this prayer. Preservation from the Evil One is necessary for a victorious Christian life. No selfish person can pray this prayer and so all of us are unworthy to offer this noblest of all prayers ever taught to humanity. The Name, Kingdom and Will of the Lord will be glorified if we become worthy to offer this proletarian prayer by simpler life-style and absolute trust in our Common Father who wants to provide for all without discrimination Jesus Christ, make us worthy to offer this prayer sincerely and truly.
Gen. 6: 1-4 is only an adaptation of an ancient legend. The cause that is attributed to the birth of mighty men of old before whom the Jews were like grasshoppers (Nu. 13: 33) is a mixed marriage which the Jews hated. Details cannot be pressed and none can be dogmatic as to who the sons of God and daughters of men were. The former could be either angels, or men in general or those who were the descendents of Seth and the latter women in general or daughters from the line of Cain (See Jerome Commentary or any, other good commentary). Mythological theme behind the J narrative is accepted and included in the Old Testament. The inspired author's contribution is the introduction of Jahweh in verse 3; The Jehovah said "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." Giants like Nephilim were born out of unholy alliance of the good with the evil and so the age of human being is reduced from 967 years of Methusaleh of the previous chapter to 120 years. The Deluge is also the punishment of such mixed marriages and the consequent wickedness of the off springs. The lesson for the modern student is that marriage partners should be carefully chosen from the sons of God and daughters of God and not from the wicked.
It is since Augustine that the phrase original sin has become a common usage in the church. The phrase does not appear in the Bible. Rom. 5: 12-21 is a description of the Adamic sin and not original sin. In the Pauline chapter on Resurrection, the contrast is not between original sin and salvation, but between death, and life. "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor. 15: 21). In Pauline theology, all have become sinners in the sin of Adam and the free grace available in Christ is much more than what is needed to atone for the trespasses of Adam. The problem with the title original sin is that it gives the false idea that cohabitation of the married couple is a sinful act. The biblical basis for this is found in Ps. 51: 5, 'behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,' is not a Christian idea, but an O. T. idea not in line with the sacrament of marriage and the Christian theology of the sexual coitus of the married couple as a sacred act of co-creation with God. The Christian teaching on the universality of sin, the inborn inclination towards sinning are all taken care of by the phrase Adamic sin. The question whether man commits sin because he is a sinner or whether he commits sin and become a sinner is only theoretical. The being and doing of sin go together.
It is the fundamentalist brethren who are definite that they are saved and want to know whether you are saved. One of the opening questions of their conversation is this. I wish they had known from the scriptures that salvation is both past, present, and future. When Jesus was asked "Lord, will those who are saved be few? His answer was strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13: 23). Here salvation is not something static already accomplished, but dynamic and gradual. In Acts 2: 47, it is the Lord who adds those who were being saved to the church by baptism. Here also salvation is a continuous process and not that which is accomplished once for all. The past dimension of salvation is the Cross coupled with the resurrection which has happened in the center of history for the whole of humanity, once for all. The continuous process of salvation is by grace through faith and life,  though close walk with the Lord, doing his will, through faith with works (James 2:17 etc), though the sacramental life, meditation, through obedience to the Word of God and above all through the power of the Holy Spirit. The future consummation of salvation is at the second coming of the Lord when new heaven and new earth will be inaugurated. The so called assurance of salvation based on the finished work of Christ is forgetting the needed response and the lack of assurance on the basis of one's own inadequacies, forgets that salvation is free and unmerited. The paradoxical situation is that we are saved by Him and yet we are not yet fully saved because we live in a sinful world participating in the unjust social and economic structures and the institutionalized injustice. The best answer would be, "He has saved me freely and I am secure under His protecting arms and yet I have not fully appropriated the riches of salvation deposited in my name in the bank."

More... How to answer the question: Are you saved? (Click Here)


This is only a mistake in the Malayalam translation. The RSV translation will clear the doubt. "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." The NEB translation is 'do not cling to me.' Mary Magdalene had already caught hold of the feet of Jesus and would not let Him go due to her mystical devotion to the Lord and Savior. Jesus was telling her that He had to ascend to the Father and should not be prevented from the glorious ascension. He also gave her a message to be carried to the brethren; 'but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." The physical presence of Jesus is not everlasting, but Mary in her utter devotion wanted it. Jesus taught her a lesson and gave her mission.
It only means that those who are spiritually dead will remain in their own place without any sense mission to bury those who are physically dead, and those who are called to proclaim the Kingdom of God should not remain in their own homes just waiting for their old people to die and be duly buried by them. The cost of Christian discipleship is the readiness to forsake one's parents for the joy of preaching the Gospel. Father Damien left his sick mother to help the lepers of Molokai. It was in 1863 that he was sent to Sandwich islands. Ten years later he went to Molokai to nurse the 600 lepers there single-handed. Those of us who want to remain with the old parents to give them a decent burial before leaving the home to proclaim the good news of Christ are told by Jesus, 'leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Giving life to the spiritually dead is more important than giving a ceremonial burial to the physically dead.
Mt. 12:32 has been sources of controversy and even mental agony for so many people. 'Sin against the son of man will be forgiven, but sin against the Holy Spirit will no be forgiven.' Is the first 'son of man' any son of man or Jesus Christ? Whether it is any man or Christ, that part of the verse is not a big problem, because those who sinned against Christ were forgiven and Christ Himself prayed for their forgiveness. Sin against the Holy Spirit is not the so called mortal sin contrasted against the venial sin in the Roman Catholic theology on the basis of 1 Jn. 5: 16. Neither is it any sin about which one feels true repentance. Sin against the Holy Spirit is the blindness of the eye of the spirit in such a way that the stage of cataract operation is over. When one looks at Jesus Christ and calls His brilliance darkness, his spiritual eye must be utterly blind. When Jesus is called Beelzebub, it is sin against the Holy Spirit. There is no pardon for it in this world or in the world to come because such a person does not have any guilty conscience against anything and does not feel the need of repentance ever. Any penitential heart, which truly repents of one's sin is sure to get the pardon of Christ. The sinner who commits the sin against the Holy Spirit is already committed to Satan as he or she has sunk to the level of satan (Rom. 1: 24, 26,28). Any one who feels truly sorry for the sins committed and wants to forsake it and live a new life of purity has not committed any sin against the Holy Spirit and should not feel that one has no forgiveness.
The Seventh Day Adventists are under the illusion that Christ made no difference to the O. T. Sabbath. There are many arguments in favor of the change of the seventh day observance to the first day of the week, which I shall only mention here. The mere mention of the points will suffice any open-minded student who is ready to see the truth.


1. Our Lord came to make everything new and any one who comes to Christ does not return the old way of Judaism or Heathenism (Mt. 9: 16; 26: 28; Jn.13: 34; Ac. 17: 19; I Cor. 5: 7; II Cor. 5: 17; Gal. 6: 15;Eph. 4: 24; Heb. 9: 15; Rev. 5: 9: 21; 5). Remember the Magi who returned a new way (Mt. 2: 12).

2. He Himself broke the O.T. Sabbath and that was one main Jewish charge against Him that led him to crucifixion. He wanted to assert that the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27; Jn. 5:18 etc.)

3. The sabbath is made for man and man not for the sabbath (Mk. 2: 27 etc.) The point here is that Man's benefit is more important than sabbath.

4. 'In the beginning God's principle enunciated in the beginning of the Bible was consummated only on the great Event of the Resurrection on the first day of the week, which inaugurated the primacy of God in the affairs of man and nature. Since the resurrection of Christ, no one can allow six days to pass on without the observance of the first day. The first six days will be without God if Sabbath is still on the last day of the week. In the O. T. the Holy of the Holies was in the Western part of the Tabernacle and Temple, facing towards the setting sun. When the Sun of righteousness rose up in the resurrection of Christ, the Holy of Holies is also changed to East, towards the rising sun.

5. The reason attributed to the origin of the Sabbath, that God rested on the seventh day is an anthropomorphic understanding of God and not theologically justifiable. God does not get tired by the work of creation as to Him rest is work and work is rest. He is the changeless and eternal God who works all days and rests all days as to Him there is no limit. (see Isa. 40: 28; Mal. 3: 6; Ps. 121: 4; Heb. 13: 8). 

6. 'Letter killeth and the spirit giveth life' (II Cor. 3:6). Literalism which is behind the Seventh Day Adventists is a dead weight, which I hope they will throw away. The Islamic view of the Quran is not the Christian view of the Bible. (See answers to the first four questions).

7. In the early church the breaking of the bread was on the first day of the week and so Easter became powerful to break the Sabbath and its strong-hold on the Jewish converts in the very beginning of the church (Ac. 20:7; I Cor. 16:2). All the ancient churches observe the first day of the week and not the seventh day as the Jews for worship in the church. 

8. The Seventh day Adventists are a new sectarian movement which does not recognize the tradition or ancient practice of the church and they will not be liberated to the joy of Christianity till they recognize the Lordship of Christ over the Sabbath and everything else.

9. St. Basil has compared the Sabbath to the eternal Sabbath that awaits the redeemed. The Cycle of first day is repeated on the eighth day and so the eternal rests starts where it should start with the risen Christ.

10. Christ changed not only the Sabbath, but every one of the ten commandments with His oft repeated 'but I say unto you' in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). Deepening of other commandments into intention and thought, naturally changed the deepening of the seventh to the first.


The Trinity is eternally holy and not made holy. The saints are not holy in the sense God is holy, they are made holy by the Holy Trinity. Thus we use the word holy in two different meanings when it is applied for God and applied for anything or any one in the created order. The Holy Bible speaks of holy mountain (Ps. 87: 1), most holy things (Nu. 4: 4), holy day (Ex. 35:2), holy covenant (Dan 11:28), holy calling (II Tim. 1:9), holy apostles and prophets (Rev. 18:20), holy flock (Ezek 36: 38), holy nation (I Pet. 2: 9), holy people (Is. 62: 12). It is significant that when the priest says, 'holy things to holy people', in the Holy Eucharist, the reply of the saints is 'None is holy except Holy Father....' If one approaches the Holy Table saying 'I am holy and worthy and so give me the Holy elements', he is certainly unworthy to receive the Holy Qurbana. Saints are the dedicated children of God who know that they are unworthy even for the least of the blessings of God. When we say that the church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, we know that all these four notes of the church are not manifest to the world and yet these notes are that of the Head, Jesus Christ, which the body is humbly claming and aspiring to reach in the power of the Holy Spirit. Similarly the saints are those who are being sanctified through the holy sacraments, holy meditation etc., by the Holy Spirit. Saints are called saints by others and not by themselves, for they know that they are sinners as long as they live in the fallen world and have not attained the ideal set for them by God and the society. In the N. T. all the Christians, the believers, the baptized community are called saints (Rom. 1: 7; I Cor. 1: 2; II Cor. 1: 1 etc.). The church, however, has seen special sanctity in a few and even declared some as saints. Our Church has declared Mar Gregorios of Parumala as saint. The Orthodox churches do not have the tedious and long processes of canonization of saints on the basis of the number of miracles and other detailed studies. The last and ultimate Judge is, of course, God alone.
Those who quote this verse against the practice of calling a priest as Fr. M. V. George or Fr. John do not seem to understand the meaning of the verse. The same passage says that no one should be called a teacher or a master. The implication is that all the Christians are brothers and sisters. If the verse is taken literally, our own physical fathers also cannot be called father as they are also on earth, neither can our teachers be called teacher. The uniqueness of God the Father as the only Father who has no other father and of Jesus Christ as the only Teacher who had no other teacher (Mk. 6:2) and of the Holy Spirit as the only Master or Guide without another guide must be discerned in this passage with three questions. St. Paul himself says, "I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment" (Philem. 10). Similarly, those who baptize become fathers of the baptized for whom baptismal regeneration is given (Tit. 3: 5) and the priests of the Christian church must be called 'father.' God Almighty, the Eternal Father, is the proto-type of every family on earth. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph. 3: 14). Hence, if God can be called 'Father' our earthly fathers who give us physical birth and spiritual fathers who give us spiritual birth must be called 'father.' The quest ion is a clear example of fundamentalist way of taking a proof-text from some passage, removing it from the context and giving it a dangerous and impracticable literal interpretation.
The first thing to be noted is that Jesus refused to perform miracles as a means of having people believe in Him. At the very beginning of His public ministry he overcame the feeling to jump from the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem and to make the people believe in Him by such a feat. Whenever He performed any miracle he told the healed person not to tell anyone about it (Mt. 8: 4; Mk. 8: 26, 30; 9: 9; Lk. 5: 14; 8: 56). Christ chastised the people who followed Him to eat the bread that he increased miraculously. He wanted the people to know that His ability to provide is constant (Mk. 8: 14-21). The next point is that all the miracles of Jesus were miracles of overflowing Love, which He revealed as the very nature of God. Does he not supply food in the desert for His followers even today, out of His bounteous love ? Any Mother Theresa of history would still bear witness to the fact that he continues to increase five loaves and two Fishes to feed five thousands even today. The story of Dr. Ida Scudder and the Christian Medical College, Vellore, is the story of God's miraculous feeding and healing of thousands out of very little. Thirdly, science magazines are now describing miracles they see and cannot explain. Albert Einstein was right in pointing out that the more we know of the physical universe we are convinced that there is yet more to be known. After all, how limited is our knowledge of God's activities in the billions of stars and planets ? Science is not scientific when it says that there is no God or no miracles as science can only say something positive about the known facts and nothing negative about the unknown universe and mysteries. A scientist who casts a net of one inch holes in the sea and catches one inch size fish can only say that there are one inch size fishes in that sea and not that there is no smaller fishes in it because a later scientist might make a smaller sized net and catch smaller fishes. From what we know of science, it is not yet scientific to say that miracles are impossible. That which is miracles in one generation may not be miracle in the next and yet miracle as such remains as long as we are finite. Fourthly, if we believe in an Almighty God, under Whom are the laws of nature, we should not limit God under the laws He created and say He cannot end it or mend it. He who fixed the laws of nature for the good of man will have the right, freedom, and power to over-rule it at any given situation to show His love of His children. The virgin birth and the resurrection must be seen in such a light. He who fixed a modus operandi for procreation is free to enter His world through a virgin and also to rise again on the third day to His pre-existent glory. Belief in miracles is belief in the power of God over the created nature. Fifthly, Bultmann's 'demythologization' is an aid to the interpretation of the miracles of the Bible to an age of Science. There is something behind each of Christ's miracles which is more miraculous than the physical miracles. If a German mind sees the change of heart of the people to part with their hidden bread and fishes when the small boy gave all his bread, and also as a result of listening to the preaching of Christ, there is still a miracle Christ effected in the hearts of the people, which is deeper than the increase of bread and fishes by a supernatural action of Christ. I am not saying that all miracles must be demythologized, but that there are physical and psychological miracles. Finally, there is a qualitative distinction between the two incarnational miracles of virgin conception and resurrection and other miracles and that these two miracles are necessary to explain the supreme miracle of God-Man.
It is very unfortunate that such a question is asked. The O. T. is the Bible of three major religions of the world namely the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. For the Jews it is their only Scripture. For the Christians it is the historical and theological background of the N.T. and so forms an integral part of the Holy Bible containing the O. T. and the N. T. Our Lord has quoted from it even hanging on the Cross 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me' (Ps. 22: 1). He defeated the temptations of Satan by quoting the passages from the Bible esp. the Book of Deuteronomy. (See Dt. 9: 9; 8:3; 6: 13; 1 Kings 19: 8 Ps. 118). St. Mathew quotes profusely from the O. T. to show that Jesus was the expected Messiah. When Our Lord. read the Bible in the Synagogue at Nazareth he was reading Is. 61: 1. St. Paul's whole theology of justification by faith is based on the faith of Abraham and the very phrase, "the righteous shall live by his faith" is from Habakkuk 2: 4. The Epistle to the Hebrews can never be understood without a thorough study of O. T. priesthood, the Tabernacle, the priesthood of Melchizedak etc. (See Ex. 25-40 for Heb. 9: 1-28). Creation of man in the image of God is basic for any Christian anthropology. The ten commandments is only fulfilled by Christ in the deeper version of it in the Sermon on the Mount and not abrogated. Those who say that the O. T. must be replaced by the Vedas and the Upanishads for the Indian Bible are not giving due value to the simple fact that Christianity is a historical religion unlike Hinduism and the Hebrew Christian Revelation has unique continuity in spite of the discontinuity. To say that Christ is the final answer for the quest of all ages and all religions is true, but there is a unique validity for the claim that the Messianic prophecies of the O. T. are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Is not the devotional reading of the Psalter practiced in all the branches of Christendom to this very day? Is not the 23rd Psalm the most favorite passage of the whole Bible next to the Lord's prayer? Are not the stories of the O. T. more interesting to the Sunday school students than the stories of the N. T ? As the very God of very God became very man in the form of a Jew, how can we understand Him and his life and teaching without a study of the Jewish Bible ? It seems to me that those who do ignore the O. T. are trying to draw a picture without a black-board or trying to plant a tree without any roots. The O. T. gives the necessary background for the understanding of the New Israel, its sacraments and priesthood in relation to the sacrifices and priesthood of the Old Israel. It can easily be shown that if we do not read the O. T. our reading of the N. T. is partial and incomplete and even unintelligible. The lack of interest of many modern Christians in the O. T. will ultimately lead them to a lack of interest in the N. T. also. Even the phrase 'Christ our paschal lamb' (I Cor. 5: 7) is unintelligible without a study of the original paschal lamb of Ex. 12. As Jesus Christ stands between B. C. and A. D. as the center of history. He stands hidden in the O. T. and revealed in the N. T., as expected Messiah in the O. T. and as revealed Messiah in the N. T. and the whole Bible is history only as His Story. Therefore let us study the O. T. with a deep sense of dedication and expectation.
The word 'selah' appears frequently in the Psalms (4: 2, 4; 7; 5; 9: 16 etc.) When the psalm is read, this word need not be read as it is only a musical notation intended to give direction to the singers of the Hebrew psaltery. It is a liturgical or musical direction probably given by the leader of the Choir to raise to the voice or perhaps to indicate a pause. Scholars are not agreed to the literal meaning of it. The word appears outside the Psalter also: (See Heb. 3: 3, 9, 13). It does not appear in any of the prose narratives in the Bible. Even if we put the psalm into music, the word 'selah" need not be taken into the new musical notations as its real meaning and relevance is not yet clear from the various contexts in which it is found.
"But when Pharoah saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them: as the Lord had said," (Ex. 8: 15), "and the Lord hardened the heart of Pharoah, as he did not listen to them; as the Lord had spoken to Moses," (9:12). To the writer of Exodus, both these verses meant the same thing. Whatever happens in history, it is Jehovah who acts. "The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation (17: 16); "and the Lord sent thunder and hail and fire ran down to the earth and the Lord rained hail upon the land" (9: 23). The Hebrews were extremely religious people to whom the Lord God was behind every natural phenomenon. They did not raise the modern question, 'would a good God do evil ?' It is in the face of Jesus Christ that we see God as He is. The O. T. revelation of God was partial and fragmentary (Heb. 1: 1). Our Lord used to point out the sin hidden in the disbelief of hardened hearts (Mb. 6. 52; 8; 17). The Islamic faith in predestination of everything by Allah (kismet) was the faith of the Hebrews in the time of Exodus and so even the hardening of the heart of Pharoah was the doing of God. St. James makes it clear that God does not tempt any one. "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one: but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." (1: 3) Sin would harden our hearts and we are asked to be vigilant. "Exhort one another everyday, as long as it is called, 'today', that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sins." (Heb.3: 13) Many such passages like the hardening of the heart of Pharoah in the O. T. then must be interpreted as the faith of that particular time of the writing of that particular book and not as the eternal truth revealed in the N. T. by Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.
This question is frequently asked as the students are not taught that Gen. 1-11 are pre-historical. Any one who compares Gen. 1: 1-2: 3 with Gen. 2: 4-24 can easily recognize that there are two distinct stories of creation and none is to be taken literally as the answer to the question how the world was created. The creation story in Gen. 1 is 'P' Document and God is called Elohim in it. Its date is around 450 B.C. and whoever wrote it did not compare the earlier story found in the second chapter where God is called Jehovah. This second chapter called 'J' Document is dated around 750 B.C. In the creation story in the first chapter, creation takes place in six days, humanity is created male and female in the image of God on the sixth day, the sun and moon are created on the fourth day and water covered the land before land and water were separated. In the earlier story found in the second chapter there is no mention of creation on each day, Adam is created before the animals are created and Eve is created from the rib of Adam after the creation of animals and the plants grew due to the mist that went up and watered the whole earth. Those who believe that the Bible gives the answer to the question 'how' the world was created will have to choose one of these stories and leave the other as myth. Those who have taken the pain to study the Bible critically would agree that the creation story is a saga to answer certain theological questions such as who created the earth and all things visible and invisible and not the biological questions about the age of the earth and the plants and life on earth. The theological answer regarding the image of God in man is also of immense significance concerning the questions related to the nature and destiny of man. In both the creation stories, it is God who created, whether Elohim or Jehovah. It is very unfortunate that the Fundamentalist brethren degrade the Holy Bible of eternal value to the level of time-bound and changing values of scientific truths. We ought to leave to science to answer the question how the world was created, by slow evolution or by sudden creation. The Holy Bible is not a text-book of Physics or Chemistry or Geography or Zoology or Biology. It is the basic text book on theology and must be kept in that level. Let the Bible answer the fundamental questions about God, the salvation of man, the life after death etc., and let us allow science to answer all physiological questions that can be verified by objective tests in the laboratory or outside.

     The question 'whom did Cain marry ?' is raised out of the misunderstanding about the word 'Adam.' Adam in Hebrew is not a proper name, but it just means 'man or humanity.' The presence or absence of other human beings at the time of Adam does not change the theological truths about the first Adam, the representative fallen man taken as the head of the fallen humanity. The Second Adam, Jesus Christ is, the representative and the Head of the redeemed humanity in spite of the fact that other human beings lived at the time of the economy of salvation in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the defeat of Goliath meant the defeat of all the Philistines (I Sam. 17), the fall of Adam meant the fall of the whole of humanity. We must move from the Second Adam to the first and not vice versa. 

    The story of Cain in Gen. 4 makes it clear that there were other human beings in the land of Nod where Cain fled and found a girl whom he took to wife. "Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden" (16). Nod was a place of so many people that Cain built a city there for the inhabitants in honor of his son Enoch (17). Some of the fathers thought that Cain married his sister, but it seems very unlikely. If there were no other people, why did Cain say, "whoever finds me will slay me" (4: 14) ? The point is that even if creation was evolutionary, there is no problem as far as the theology of the creation story is concerned. It is alright to teach creation story as it is recorded in the Bible in the primary class in the Sunday School when evolutionary creation is understandable to the kids. But a little later the students will ask, "How were the first three days of creation calculated with the words, 'and there was evening and there was morning,' when the sun, the moon and the stars were created only on the fourth day ?" When the students are able to ask such questions, the truth of creation should be explained as theological and not biological or zoological. Thus the question, 'whom did, Cain, marry ?' is a good opportunity to explain the fact that, first two chapters of Genesis belong to pre-historic narrative and also the documentary theory that in the days of Ezra, the Jehovistic. Elohistic, Deuteronomic, and priestly codes were amalgamated into one volume for the first time and the reasons for the discrepancy in the two creation stories, two flood narratives etc. The fundamentalists are not doing full justice to the Bible itself as they are not open-minded to confess that the Bible is a divine human book with the unchanging truths of God are recorded in the changing and even fallible words of man. The Bible interpreted in such a way that there is no conflict between the Bible and science. "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."


ETHICAL & PRACTICAL QUESTIONS

Tithing was an obligatory legal discipline in the O. T. (Gen. 14: 20, Lev. 27: 31; Nu. 18: 24-28: Dt. 12: 6; Neh. 10: 37; Am. 4: 4; Mal. 3: 8-10; Lk. 18: 12). Those who were not tithing were robbing God (Mal. 3:8). That which was legalistic tithing in the O. T. is a part of Christian stewardship in the N. T.  According to the N. T. all are only gifts of God and so are accountable to God for all of one's possessions. A Christian who titles, but does not use one-tenth according to the will of God is not a true Christian. The trusteeship principle taught by Mahatma Gandhi is a Christian idea.

    Did Jesus want us to tithe ? He did not tell the Pharisees to stop tithing. What he told them is applicable to us Christians also: "Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, it without neglecting the others" (Lk. 11:42). The emphasis is on justice and the love of God. Christian tithing must be as part of these two Christian traits. As Christ says, 'these you ought to have done.' He is recommending tithing. Even if the verse is interpreted other way round, still He says that we should not neglect tithing. Love of God and justice to fellowmen must be our main concern. Again, when Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the thing that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's " (Mt. 22:21), the Jews must have understood it as the need to give tithe, first-fruits etc. unto God. We know that everything we have is God's and we tithe as an expression of our gratitude for His multifarious gifts to us. The advantage of setting apart one-tenth for charity is that we will always have a fund to give to the needy without any heartache. Christian giving should not be out of compulsion, but out of the joy of giving. (Read II Cor. 8 & 9). The one verse that Jesus said that is not read in the gospels, but only in the Acts is, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). The idea is that happiness is more in giving than in receiving. If tithing is a legalism in the O.T. it is a dynamic joy in the N. T.  If the Jew felt satisfied after having given the tithe, first-fruits etc., the Christian feels that he has not given as much as he should. The widow who offered all her living in the two mites that she offered in the treasury in the temple was praised by the Lord as she did not keep back anything for herself, but offered all what she had. Christ is not looking for the amount or quantity of giving, but the quality of giving. "God so loved the world that He gave......" We love our children and we give them as much as we can. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Lk. 12: 34). It also means where your heart is, there your treasure will also be. We will give to the poor and the needy with as much joy as we give to the children if our hearts are with the Lord and the poor. 

    The answer then is that the least a Christian should do must be tithing. As John Wesly said, "work as hard as you can, earn as much as you can, use as little as you can, and give as much as you can."  This is what the parents do for the children and we must do the same for the Church, the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the jobless.


   The Christian's not afraid of any evil spirit or stars, or angels or principalities as Christ has disarmed all of them by His death and resurrection. To quote St. Paul, "He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food or a new moon or a sabbaths. These are only shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." (Col. 2: 15-17). It is lack of a deep faith in God that trusts in the forces of nature to control the destiny of the Child of God ! It was when the Spirit of God departed from Saul that the evil spirit came upon Soul (I Sam. 16: 14). What can the evil spirit do to the believing children of God who are in the Spirit of God ? The power of Jesus over the evil spirits is clear in the record incidents of exorcism in the N. T. Any evil spirit will flee if Christ is in us. 

    Similarly, we should not believe in fate or in fatalism. Nothing happens to us without the knowledge of our Savior and all things work together for good to them that love the Lord, those called according to His purpose (Rom. 8: 28). Belief in Providence is sufficient to have no belief in fate. Lack of faith leads to doubts and fear. 

    Those who believe in omens, sakunam, rahu and dasa santhi are also not true believers in Christ. Even those who believe that magic or evil spirits have some powers must remember the incident of Aaron's rod swallowing the rods of the magicians of Egypt (Ex. 7: 8-13), showing thereby that the power of Jehovah is always above the power of all magicians. As God who is our Father is able to convert our sani dasato to sukra dasa why should we ask some one to write our jathakam ?


We live in a world where we are surrounded by the so called civilized people living in what is called a permissive society.  The old immorality is now called new morality. Any one who speaks of sexual discipline is called Victorian,  puritanic  and  even old-fashioned. There are even some psychiatrists who blame the sex ethics for much of the guilt complex, though such psychiatrists are out-weighed by those who are more learned than they who see the need of sex morality taught by religions. History itself shows that all the major cultures and civilizations have fallen after the interior weakness of the citizens in living a loose moral life. The Fall of the Roman Empire was after its fall in sex morality. Arnold J. Toynbee's Study of  History is sufficient to prove my point.

    The difference between animals and man is in the image of God in man alone. The sex life of animals is periodical and purely instinctive, but man's is different. Animals do not have a sense of shame when they mate in the public, but man has a God-given sense of shame and so he mates in secret. Conscience is partly God given and partly the Creation of the influence of society in each individual.  The sense of guilt experienced  in breaking the sex morality has a universal relevance though the gravity may differ from one person  to another and from one society to another. One man for one woman is the order of creation.  "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one  flesh" (Gen. 2: 24).  Monogamy and monoandry are the ideal and not polygamy and polyandry. Jesus quoted the above verse from Genesis and added, "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt.  19: 6). Mind is a  photographic plate to be reserved in the matter of sex to be exposed after the marriage with the only partner of one's life. Loose sexual  life and frequent divorces go together.

    The practice of punishing the adulterer with murder was (Lev. 20: 10) perhaps stopped by Christ pur Lord Who said, 'Let  him  who  is  without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn. 8: 7). Our Lord  was not being lenient to the woman caught in adultery to permit her return to a sinful life. He told her, "Neither do I condemn  you; go and do not sin again."  Christ wanted one to be moral not out of fear of punishment, but out of love to the Lord. He did not abrogate the seventh commandment, but made it deeper by saying, "everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart"  (Mt. 5: 28). He knew that thought proceeds action and so wanted us to harbor pure thought and keep away from tempting atmosphere.

    The sanctity of sex is in keeping its sanctity. It is a God-given mighty force that can be sublimated for innumerable noble purpose like art, religion, philosophy, scientific discoveries etc. Sublimation is always better than suppression and repression of sex. When sex is expressed it must be within the wedlock of marriage. Premarital and extra marital intercourses have no Christian sanction. Sexual perversions like homosexuality and masturbation must be understood as perversions and overcome with the grace of God.

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    Mother Teresa has said that the most precious gift you can give to your spouse on your wedding day is the gift of your virginity. Think about that. Isn't it true that you are the only person in the whole world who can give this gift? It is such a special gift, more precious than jewels, so you want to cherish it and protect it with all your might. You can only give this gift one time, so your future husband or wife is surely the only person in all the world who deserves this total and complete gift of yourself.

    If young men and women would make the decision at an early age to remain a virgin until marriage, they would not be faced with spur-of-the-moment decision making. They would know their goal and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that high standard. They would be cautious of the company they keep and their areas of entertainment. They would be aware of temptations and difficult situations and better prepared to avoid them. They would be free to grow and mature and learn and discover God's wonderful plan for their lives. They would not have to worry about "late" periods, pregnancy, abortion, "birth control," venereal diseases, AIDS and all the other physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional consequences of premarital sexual intercourse. They would have real respect for themselves and their friends, and they would be confident that they were living in a way that is pleasing to God. They would be protecting and saving themselves for the one and only special person God has chosen to be their lifelong husband or wife if marriage is their vocation.

    Do young people think about such things? Do they ever hear the words "virginity," "chastity," "purity," "modesty" or "self-mastery?" Do these words sound as if they were part of a foreign language because no one ever uses them anymore? Is this beautiful gift of total self giving not worth saving for their one and only marriage partner? God thinks it is. He has told us this is precisely what He expects of us because He loves us. And, He gives us all the grace we need to be able to do it.

    It is very important for parents and schools and churches to teach these truths clearly and to reinforce each other. Otherwise, our young people will never hear the words or learn God's truth because the TV, movies, music and the world do not love the children or care about them. So many young people have lost their virginity and self respect because they believed the lies of the world. We must offer them the hope and freedom of "secondary virginity." They can ask for God's forgiveness and be forgiven. They can "start over" and make their commitment to remain chaste until their wedding day. They need this opportunity and encouragement to begin again and to change with God's grace. 

    If we recognize marriage and conjugal love to be a sacred part of God's plan, then we can understand the importance of chastity. Chastity protects. It strengthens. It builds character. It encourages self control. It inspires reverence. It guarantees freedom. It guards against selfishness, and it applies to every human person. Chastity is not always easy, but it is always possible with God's help. Chastity reaffirms marriage and the sexual relationship between a husband and wife as very good, very special and very holy. The sacredness of cooperating with God in His creation of a new human life is so powerful and so awesome that this precious gift should only be shared in the security of a loving, generous and committed marriage relationship. This is God's way, and it is definitely worth waiting for because the total, complete gift of pure love that the bride and groom give to each other on their wedding day is truly a precious gift.

Source: Pamphlet - Diocese of Memphis NFP Center

         Mother/Daughter & Father/Son Programs


Drunkards who want a basis for their drinking in the Bible always quote, (Jn. 2: 1-11) forgetting all the other anti-drink passages in the Bible (Is. 28: 1, 3; Prov. 23: 21; 26; 9; Rev. 17: 1-2; Gal. 5: 21, Rom. 13: 13; Lk. 21: 34 etc.) The miracles of the fourth Gospel are called signs. Concerning John 2: 1, Jerome Bible Commentary says, "The Wine of Cana that replaces the water of Jewish purification, the life-giving water that comes from Christ, the heavenly bread that is his flesh (6: 51) - all these signify the sacraments that are efficacious in virtue of his redemptive work, bestowing the Holy Spirit that is the life of the church"  (Vol. II. p. 418). The water changed to strong wine is the sign of the change in the elements of the sacraments by the presence of Christ. Those who have Christ in them are already in the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit and they do not need the spirit of strong wine to boost them up. Even if we take it literally, we must understand the Palestinian local situation and the custom of serving only wine in the wedding parties as Palestine is a wine growing country.  The first miracle of Jesus is misinterpreted if it is taken as a permission to drink strong liquor. It is the mind of Christ that  is more important than a particular event in the Savior's life. The mind of Christ was certainly full of sympathy for the hungry, the sick and the bereaved.  If we have such a mind, how can our conscience permit us to spend the God-given money for liquor? An incident in a particular wedding party, where the honor of the Host was protected by the Lord in response to the intercession of His mother is no excuse  for wasting one's health, resources, time and talents for drinking alcoholic beverages. Christian conscience from the very early period has been against drinking wine even  for medicine. Hence Timothy would not use it even as medicine. Therefore St. Paul had to plead with him and write, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and  your frequent ailments" (I Tim. 5: 23).    We must remember that more families are destroyed today by liquor than any other single factor. Liquor is the greatest killer by so many  means such as cancer, drunk driving, murder and what not?

    Prohibition alone will not solve the habit of alcoholism as it is a negative approach. The Churches must be responsible to solve the problems of individuals who resort to drinking against their own desire by the pressure of circumstances and as an easy means of getting temporary mental peace as in consuming opium. Pastoral counseling must be one way of helping such people. Confession to the priest must also give the person all the benefits of counseling and much more. If a father is going to the toddy shop to decrease the worry about his married daughters of marriageable age, the church must have means to have those girls married through aid from Marriage Assistance Fund. All the churches must support the government's effort to impose prohibition and to make it a success. There should be no liquor advertisements. Young people must be brought to the joy of absolute self-surrender to Jesus Christ and the thrill of life and service in the power of the Holy Spirit that they will never go for the dangerous alcoholic spirit. Christian publications must have articles on the dangers of alcoholic drinks. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler" (Prov. 20:1).


One of the most unpardonable crimes of our rich and middle class people is the superfluous show of wealth in wedding parties. Thousands of girls remain unwedded due to lack of finance and yet the few who can afford, do not help them for their minimum needs, but waste a colossal amount for weeding parties. If this evil practice is not curtailed, some model of Chinese revolution will come to India also and stop wedding parties for all people as none will be able to afford and the Government will strictly forbid it. Luxury is certainly a sin.
Though marriages are registered in the soviet Union, more and more couples are coming to the church for church-marriages for the sheer beauty and grace of it. If one agrees that marriage is a sacrament (Mt. 19: 6; Eph. 5: 31 etc.), it naturally must take place in the church in the midst of the faithful by the validly ordained priest of the church. As one goes to the theatre for cinema, to the play ground for games, to the club for secular get together, one goes to the Church for the sacred sacraments of the Church.

We live at a time when the Governments are encouraging mixed marriages as a means of national integration. Rationalists say that Christians are not having a universal and cosmic outlook when they forbid inter-religious marriages. Are the Christians communalistic and narrow-minded when they say with St. Paul "be not unevenly yoked" (II Cor. 6: 14)? There are many reasons for the Christian practice of marrying only Christians.

    (a) Marriage is a sacrament and sacraments are not administered to the non-Christians as long as they do not join the Church. Even the Hindus have Sudhi-karma to make a non-Hindu a Hindu. The rite of initiation is practiced by all religions in one way or other to make one a member.

    (b) Marriage is the most intimate bond in one's life and there should be deep agreement in the philosophy of life of both the partners, although certain different character or traits may be mutually complementary (e.g. a miser and a spendthrift). Religion is one's philosophy of life and so the partners must be of one religion.

    (c) The bringing up of the children will be a problem in mixed marriages if the couple want to bring them up in the religious nurture. The child will be lost as to weather to go-to the temple or church. Family  prayer is necessary in a Christian home and in mixed marriages, this will be impossible or at least difficult.

    (d) Though there may be exceptions, many of the mixed marriages are ending up in separation, alienation, or even divorce. The emotional love affair that brought the couple together will not last long when the realities of family problem are faced by the couple. They do not have the anchor of a common religious faith to hold them together without a shipwreck.

    (e) Every one must be loyal to the particular discipline of the church to which one belongs. Radicals who go ahead with the idealism of their individuality will soon find out that they are ostracized by their society, family, and even intimate friends. Mixed marriage does not seems to be a step to be taken to show an example to their community, for hardly anyone will follow suit except in love marriages.

    (f) The tradition and long practice of the Church for two thousand years must have a strength of its own, which must be appreciated by the youth also. If one wants to marry a non-Christian, one must teach the partner the faith to which one belongs and convert the person to that faith and then have a religious wedding.