Sunday, October 14, 2007

Faith in the Times of Scientific Temperament

We live in an age where inventions and discoveries have facilitated technological advancement to such an extent that people have started to rely on scientific devises for every need. The achievements, especially in the realm of medical science, have increased the average human life span, eradicated many lethal epidemics and found remedies for complex diseases, congenital and otherwise. The feats in other arenas are also remarkable as they have helped the world shrink into a global village.

It was a series of innovations which paved way for industrial revolution in Europe from the late 18th century well into the 19th century. From then on the West is considered to be more developed and scientifically advanced than the east which still flaunts a spiritual legacy. But Japan, China, and South Korea have tremendous industrial potential and India too is fast catching up. Still, the people in the west are more secular in many respects with little time to devote for God and religion. Some months back Pope John Benedict XVI had explained that the west is alienated from Asia and Africa because its was steeped in secularism and science. He had also said that too much focus on secular thoughts and science would make man deaf to God’s voice.

Irrespective of the eastern – western divide people generally take pride in being able to live the times of scientific temperament of a much higher level than the times of their predecessors. But, on the contrary, some traits of religious beliefs have become so stronger that they are often equated with superstition. This trend is largely evident in oriental countries. But, even an occidental country as scientifically advanced as the US is not impervious to it.

Absolute faith in God is something which is frowned upon by people who claim to think independently. They say that too much dependence on faith hinders free thinking. Divine healing is one aspect of faith which draws flaks from different quarters. The large gatherings at healing crusades provoke the critics. They say that it is some sort of psychological effects which make people feel that they are healed. Psychological effect or any other effects, in most cases the results are physically visible. I concede, there are black sheep among preachers and attendants. But the actual and the spiritual attributes of faith healing are too convincing to overlook. It is difficult to explain faith with support of theoretical evidences, for faith is very much empirical. I myself have numerous experiences of God’s miracles in human life. When I was extremely sick and doctors could not cure me, God comprehensively healed me. I could achieve impossible career heights due to divine guidance. After founding the mission I encountered many adversities in carrying forward the gospel work. But along with that I have also been blessed by Providence to overcome them reassuringly. May faith saved me whenever I was in trouble.

Hence, I openly defend all those people who profess their faith in times of scientific temperament. True, men and women who exploit God’s name and faith to earn fame and wealth are a barrier to convince people of God’s miraculous saving powers. But, God is above all barriers. The faithful can clearly see God’s hand working in their lives. And those who don’t believe and refuse to see God’s works or vaguely see them, will sooner or later have to accept that faith is relevant and vital, no matter how far science has progressed.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Standing Tall

Growth - this word is much bandied about these days, especially in the Indian media. India’s economic growth is a pet topic of the media. Laying down a set of averages, economists, journalists, sociologists, politicians, international observers etc try to establish that India is already a global economic force to reckon with. But there are detractors who say that this is only a tall claim and these sound bites should be dismissed as unsubstantial. Their stance is that globalization has not percolated to all classes of the society. The slow pace of poverty alleviation, the crisis in the agriculture sector, the short comings of public health systems, the below par performance in the human development index and many other factors are cited by them to counter those who wax eloquent about India’s phenomenal growth rate deficiencies.

Now some references to spiritual growth. Modern day believers have a proclivity to confuse growth with quantity. Often the emphasis on quality is mere rhetoric. People tend to pride in swelling numbers. Of course, it is desirable that all the inhabitants of the earth should turn to God and walk in His ways. But the practice of allowing immoral and unrighteous people to become the members of church because of number pressure is highly deplorable. Unfortunately the criterion of blessing in a congregation is the turn out. Preachers too clamor for large crowds.

Spiritual growth should not be confined to external factors and displays. The present trend is that certain demonstrations determine the spiritual growth of an individual or church. Yes, when the inward man is renewed day by day (growing up) there will be outward signs. But these signs should be the fruit of the spirit. Joy, peace longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance together make up the fruit of the spirit. The Bible instructs that the church and the believer should grow up to Christ, who is the head of the church, in all things (Ephesians 4:16). Paul adds that a Christian should seek things that are above (Colossians 3:1).
There are some who grow up in an immature fashion trying to surpass the head. To attain the growth prescribed by the word, proper intakes of balanced diet are necessary. The word of God contains all nutritional constituents needed for growth. One who grows up consuming them can stand upright in the midst of all immoralities. Spiritual growth should be used to guide the society in the right direction. If we look around us, we can find a host of spiritual teachers who address people through different media- congregations, crusades, TV and radio broadcasts, audio-video tapes etc. But many among them send out wrong signals. Given the present back drop- a world with a multitude of complexities-, returning to the basics is the need of the hour. Our spiritual maturity should convince the world that Christ is the answer to every problem.
Spiritually grown up Christians should use their optimal potentiality. They should not be contended being ‘also-rans’. They should try to rise beyond the stereotype and impact the society through strong biblical values. Such an exemplary witnessing calls for a disciplined Christian life. Let us commit ourselves to lead our lives in such a manner that we can be of immense service to both God and men.

Your prayer requests, suggestions and financial support may be sent to:INDIAN CHRISTIAN MISION87, Tenement-IIRBTB HospitalDelhi -110009Ph.011-91-11-2765 8810

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Mr. Balachandran Chullikkad, a Malayalam poet, who converted to Buddhism some years back recently quoted in a Malayalam news paper’s Sunday edition, “I have not been able to implement Buddhist principles comprehensively. I don’t think I can ever. I just try; that’s it. How harder may I try, the same difference between Christ and Christians will be there between Budha and me.” It’s not clear here what extent of difference does the poet imply; but, the distance between Christ and Christians has been the subject of scrutiny by different thinkers at different times.

It can be surmised from Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography that his initial attraction towards Christianity did not convert into Christian faith as he was put off by the lack of probity in the lives of some Christians he came into contact with. The renowned philosopher - sage Swami Vivekananda, in his writings, was generous in praising Christ, but severely criticized Christians. The late Pastor V. A. Thomas, a popular preacher in Kerala a couple of decades back, used to comment about some preachers that they should be made to preach behind curtains as their actions didn’t match their words.
The first century Christians made wholehearted attempts to follow Christ in thoughts, actions and words. Discounting some stray incidents, the church then was Christ centric. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I choose you out of the world therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you,’ a servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also” (John 15.18-20). Those saints took Jesus words at their face value and emulating their master did not wilt under pressure in the face of slanders, tribulations and sufferings.

With the onslaught of time, gradually changes became evident in the lifestyles of Christians. The practice of altering doctrines to suit the convenience of certain people brought about a wane in loyalty towards Christ’s commandments. Due to the intense desire to indulge in the comforts and pleasures of the world, the followers of Christ forged an unholy alliance with the world. Instead of ‘it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master, the trend was now to become different from the Master. As the clergy and laity chose to deviate from the path traversed by Christ, the decline of an ideal society from spiritual to materialistic became rampant.

Today, even in our best phases, we are mere shadows of our forefathers, Christ like attitudes are becoming extinct in the contemporary Christian world. Our life styles mar our Christian witnessing. Austerity, humility, respect of peers, compassion and sacrificing mentality are no more the qualities we possess. Lives in which the streams of love are fast drying up, can’t possibly channel love to a world pining for true love.

The pretence of some preachers gives the impression that they themselves are able to forgive sins and heal diseases. Here I remember a Malayalam movie director’s complement to an actor “his humility was not like applying lipstick”. This means his humility was very much genuine. The humility shown by many Christian preachers is not as genuine as that of a cine actor. The example of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is regarded as a mere custom for us.
Many believers say we cannot become like Christ, because we have human weaknesses. But, Saint Paul expects every believer to become a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ and grow up in all things to Him who is the head- Christ. The distance between Paul who rejoice in his sufferings for God’s children to fill up in his flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of His body and the present evangelists who prefer to lie low even when a mild opposition or a minute trouble emerges is quite large. Then picture, how far they are from Jesus.

Those who were once far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. Yet, believer’s deeds give away an intent of getting alienated again. Paul exhorted believers to be imitators of him as was of Christ (1 Cori.11.1). This simply means to emulate Christ. The afore-mentioned poet says that he is trying to implement the teachings of his dispensation. But, the self proclaimed Christians don’t even try. Hence, the distance between Christ and Christians is increasing as never before.