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.

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