Anul 2013 – 40 de ani de la Infiintarea Bisericii Philadelphia Chicago

de la Philadelphia Romanian Church of God – http://www.philarom.com

Anul 2013 este important pentru Biserica Philadelphia, deoarece anul acesta sarbatorim 40 de ani de la fondarea Bisericii de catre pastorul George W. Galis impreuna cu un grup mic de credinciosi. 40 de ani de slujire, de familie, de partasie, de prietenie, de misiune, de impact si relevanta. 40 de ani de Biserica Phialdelphia. Aveam 3 ani (Pastorul Florin Cimpean) cand s-a infiintat Biserica Philadelphia, oficial pe data de 21 Octombrie, 1973.

Asadar, anul 2013 este anul celebrarii. Asa am inceput anul pe 1 Ianuarie, 2013 la ora 6PM. Cu celebrare in inchinare, in cantec, in mesaj si la Cina Domnului. Am fost luati prin surprindere de numarul mare de credinciosi care au luat Cina, incat s-a terminat mustul…., dar s-a inmultit imediat si nu a ramas nimeni neservit.

Dupa Cina am facut rugaciune cu ungere cu untdelemn. Sute de credinciosi au iesit in fata pentru a invita favoarea, protectia si binecuvantarea lui Dumnezeu peste viata lor. A fost un serviciu binecuvantat.

Am inceput anul acesta cu 21 de zile de Post si Rugaciune. Esti invitat sa te unesti cu noi. Simplu urmeaza calendarul.

Reclame

Nicu Wagner – 16 Cantari pentru suflet care te fac sa te indragostesti de Dumnezeu

Poza de la situl personal al lui Nicu si Dana Wagner – http://nicuwagner.com

Playlist – lasati playerul sa mearga si va merge cantarile automat, una dupa alta. L-am pus sa inceapa cu melodia #16 Slava,Slava.

  1. Va fi o zi cand vom vedea fata in fata, cand vom primi raspuns la mii de intrebari. Dar pan’ atunci traim crezand, privind prin ceata, la lucruri ce se par in departari.
  2. Te-ascunzi in florile campiei, parfumul lor te dovedeste, Tu esti spleandoarea vesniciei, si ea in veci iti dainuieste. Te-ascunzi in ciripit de pasari, prin trilurile nesfarsite, nu simfonii, nici oratorii, cu armonii asa de sfinte.
  3. O calator, o suflet ce pribegesti mereu, sa-ti afli ajutorul numai in Dumnezeu. Increde-te in Domnul in viata de pribeag si El sa-ti fie intr-un stapanul tau cel drag.
  4. Toamna – Mi-aplec din nou urechea sa inteleg cuvantul, s-ascult ce spune ploaia si apoi ce spune vantul. Si dezlegandu-mi mintea de gandurile rele, sa inteleg mesajul covorului de stele. Din noptile de vara cum iese viata noua, cu dimineti frumoase, parca scaldate-n roua. Cand vantul care sufla, din ce in ce mai rece, imi spune parca-n taina ca vara iarasi trece.
  5. Fa-ti timp – Tu treci in goana ta grabit in lume, robit de-a neimplinirilor osanda, visand sa ai din plin comori si nume, alergi mereu cu-o inima flamanda. Nu mai ai timp ca sa privesti o floare si sa-i admiri frumoasele culori, sa urmaresti un rasarit de soare si frumusetea clipelor din zori. Nu mai ai timp sa stai langa izvorul ce curge cristalin prin stanci de munte, sa intelegi ca doar pe Creatorul il poti vedea si-n cele mai marunte.
  6. Frati adevarati – Ai hotarat pentru o vreme  sa fim loviti si incercati, sa stim si sa vedem mai bine care sunt fratii adevarati. Asa de rar gasesti un frate, un prieten sincer si loial, oricat sa-l ai, sa-l simti aproape, sa intinda mana la necaz.
  7. Strajerule – strajerule, strajerule mai e din noapte. Strajerule, strajerule, nu cumva Domnul e aproape? Ca am slabit, c-am obosit, ca am sa ma ofilesc. Ca arsita rea, puterea mea vrea sa mi-o ia pe veci.
  8. Doresc sa fie numai crini – si tot pamantul o gradina, iar crinii pacii, fara spini sa rada-n roua cristalina. Doresc sa fie numai cant, iar fii iubitori de pace, spre zari sa-nalte imnul sfant, vibrand un imn minuni va face.
  9. Vei reveni Isuse – curand te vom vedea. Tu vii sa-ti iei mireasa s-o duci in slava Ta. Tu vii saltand pe dealuri, Tu vii pe munti sarind, iti recunoastem glasul si pasii Tai venind.
  10. Opreste Doamne incercarea – Ma apasa tot mai greu povara si gustul ei e prea amar. Caci simt in piept cum suferinta  aprinde al durerii jar. Privesc in zari si in tacere astept sa-mi vina un raspuns. Caci Doamne Tu-mi cunosti durerea; de Tine nu-i nimic ascuns. Opreste Doamne incercarea ca parca jugul mi-e prea greu. Smerit, te rog revarsa-ti mila caci numai Tu-mi esti Dumnezeu.
  11. Am pus o pecete – pe numele tau si-n deget inelul ti-am pus. Am vrut ca sa fi pe vecie cu mine partas al maririi in slava de sus. De-ai sti cat de mult te-am iubit eu copile, caci viata pe cruce mi-am dat. La Golgota-n chinuri platit-am eu pretul, ca tu sa nu fi condamnat.
  12. Numele Tau – mi-e atat de scump si dulce. Mi-e atat de drag si atat de armonios. Cand il rostesc in viata, pace imi aduce, dandu-mi bucurie- darul cel mai pretios. Isuse sfant, comoara vietii mele, iti multumesc pentru iubirea Ta. Si pentru sangele ce-a curs candva sa spele pacatul meu pe cruce sus la Golgota.
  13. Ma-ntorc cu cainta – parinte al iubirii, sa-Ti cer azi iertare pentru al meu trecut. Tu ti-ai dat viata ca pretul mantuirii, cand eu rataceam ca si fiul pierdut. Departe de casa, in bezna pierzarii, in poftele rele adanc cufundat, sedus de placere eu am dat uitarii, palatul iubirii din care-am plecat.
  14. Inaltarea – …. pornim cu Domnu-n frunte pe coama muntele maslinilor, ei nu stiau ca in curand pe munte se vor desparte de speranta lor. Ei nu stiau ca ultimele sfaturi si promisiuni din lume ascultau. Simteau in schimb tristete grea in piepturi, din nou ei irositi Il ascultau.
  15. Bine-i langa Tine – calator cand sunt, Dumnezeu puternic, minunat si sfant. Cat de mare-i valul in furia lui, bland se linisteste un cuvant cand spui. Bine-i langs Tine cand necazuri am, Tu-mi reversi din ceruri dulcele-Ti balsam. Cat de grea-i durerea, o poti alina, vindeci orice boala cand e voia Ta.
  16. Slava, slava – Cat va fi pamantul tot va rasuna, imnul adorarii pentru slava Ta. Orice neam sau limba te va lauda. Tu esti Creatorul, Tu-n veci vei ramanea. Slava, slava noi Te laudam, si din inimi inchinare-ti dam. Imnul laudei sfinte nu v-a-nceta, toata vesnicia Doamne-Ti vom canta.

Emil Bartos (4) Disponibilitatea Inaintea Confortului – la Conferinta Prioritati

emil-bartosMesajul (1) Vineri –  Decizii in tinerete. Mesaj pentru generatia tanara. Text: Luca 12, despre bogatul care i-a rodit tarina si n-a stiut ce sa faca cu surplusul care i-a dat Dumnezeu. Hristos vorbeste acolo ca scopul vietii este sa te imbogatesti fata de Dumnezeu. De aceea, cand Dumnezeu te judeca, pune in balanta: Ce e prioritar pentru tine? Sufletul sau lucrurile? Ce te domina? De ce depinzi? Daca depinzi tot mai mult de lucruri, indiferent ca acestea sunt posesiuni materiale sau ideologie, sau cum spuneam – duhul acesta al tehnologiei, orice ar fi. Daca de acestea depinde viata ta ai o problema. Dumnezeu cand face bilantul vietii tale, vede cine a fost numarul 1 in viata ta. A fost El? Ce ai facut pentru sufletul tau care ramane? Prioritatea numarul 1 este sa fie sufletul inaintea lucrurilor. De aceea trebuie sa iti regandesti viata, sa vezi de ce depinzi. Da-i semnalul in afara ca tu depinzi de lucruri sau depinzi totdeauna de Dumnezeul tau? VEZI Mesajul #1 aici – Emil Bartos – Prioritatile vietii crestine

Mesajul (2) SambataImportantul inaintea urgentului –  VIDEO pentru ACEST MESAJ nu este public, sau nu exista. Mesajul a fost pentru familisti si doritori de a deveni familisti. Textul: Luca 10, Intalnirea Domnului Isus cu Marta si Maria in casa lor, plus ucenicii care erau acolo. Un principiu, o prioritate mai subtila, care are de a face cu atitudinea fata de stresul, presiunea aceasta a urgentelor. Sa faci deosebirea intre ce trebuie facut acum, urgent si ceea ce nu ai voie niciodata sa nu faci: Importantul. Sa faci o lista de important si urgent. S-ar putea sa te sperii ca afli ca tu traiesti pe baza urgentelor si ai uitat cele mai importante lucruri. Va amintiti, ca Domnul nostru in Matei 23, vorbeste, e adevarat, fariseilor, religiosilor din vremea respectiva si le spune la un moment dat, „Vai de voi, ca atunci cand dati zeciuiala, va ganditi sa dati zeciuiala din marar si uitati nefacute cele mai insemnate, adica cele mai importante lucruri din lege. Dreptatea, mila si credinciosia.”  Acesta-i contrastul la unii religiosi. Ei se opresc la chestiuni secundare, la urgente: „Hai, trebuie facut. Din datorie facem si asta si asta.” Dar, Hristos vrea sa faci din dragote, pentru ca-L iubesti. La fel in relatiile dintre noi. Oare te conduc urgentele? Sa faci toate, sa faci datoria? Sau sti sa te opresti si sa te uiti la ce este mai important? De exemplu la relatii. Relatiile sunt peste urgenta. Nu-i asa? Vei sacrifica o relatie cu sotia, dar cu sotul tau, cu copii tai de dragul unor urgente? Poate te ascunzi dupa urgente si distrugi relatii. Trebuie sa faci ordine in viata ta. Din nou, fa lista asta despre ce e important si ce este urgent. Importante sunt relatiile cu Domnul tau, cu ai tai. Si asa, ne avem pentru putina vreme aici pe pamant. VIDEO pt. ACEST MESAJ nu exista. Daca da cineva de el, va rog sa ma anuntati.

Mesajul (3) Duminica dimineata Relatia inaintea reputatiei Text: Luca 19, Relatia inaintea reputatiei se bazeaza pe intalnirea aceasta cu Zacheu. Este o alta lectie pe care Domnul vrea sa o dea ucenicilor Lui. In contextul evnagheliei dupa Luca, sa stiti ca acest pasaj apartine unor texte, paragrafe care se adreseaza celor respinsi, sau celor care nu sunt acceptati de societate. Vamesii, de exemplu. Zacheu, nu numai ca era vames, era mai marele vamesilor. Zacheu facea parte din aceasta categorie. N-avea de loc o buna primire in randul evereilor, mai ales. Deci este vorba de un om marginalizat in ochii ai celorlalti semeni. Nici nu era privit un evreu autentic, cel care se vindea romanilor. Apropo, numele Zacheu inseamna ‘cel drept’. Aici este vorba despre convertire, in final. Pentru ca Isus Hristos intra in casa unui vames si-i aduce manturiea. In contextul alegerilor in tara noastra, e ca si cum te-ai gandi la convertirea unui politician. Vedeti, noi nu credem ca o categorie de oameni au nevoie de Dumnezeu, (ba chiar) credem ca nici nu au nevoie sa fie mantuiti. Cum era in vremea aceea evreii, s-au gandit, „Poate un vames sa fie mantuit?” E ca si cum astazi te-ai gandi, politicienii astia, pe toate afisele au nevoie de mantuire. Te-ai rugat vreodata pentru ei? Te gandesti doar, „Ce a promis si ce a tinut?” … la caracter, sau ce bogatie are. Te gandesti in toate sensurile, dar, Hristos spune, „Ganditi-va altfel, uitati-va altfel la ei. Acesti oameni sunt oameni cu suflet si au nevoie si ei de manturiea lui Isus Hristos.” Vezi mesajul #3 aici – Emil Bartos – Relatia Inaintea Reputatiei

Mesajul (4) Mesajul actual – incepe cu o cantare.

Cum trebuie sa fie cantarile in bisericile noastre? Sa fie (1) doctrinare, sanatoase in invatatura (2) orice cantare trebuie sa fie creativa, sa aduca ceva specific si peste toate as zice (3) sa fie evlavioasa. Cantarile evlavioase zidesc. La minutul 3:15 fratele Emil Bartos canta o cantare compusa cu 25 de ani in urma, care nu a cantat-o niciodata in biserica pana acuma.

Predica incepe la minutul 7:45. Text: Luca 18:18-30 Intalnirea Domnului Isus cu un tanar bogat .

Disponibilitatea inaintea confortului

Domnul nostru ii spune acestui barbat, in puterea varstei, ca ii lipseste un singur lucru. Care e acela? Ce ar spune Hristos daca astazi ti-ar cerceta inima si ti-ar zice, „Iti lipseste un singur lucru?” Crezi ca poti anticipa care ar fi acel lucru? Astazi vom vedea ca pentru acest tanar bogat, lucrul acela era disponibilitatea. Acea daruire, urmarea lui Hristos, lepadare, frangere cand El te cheama.

Despre ce vorbeste acest text? Am putea spune ca textul vorbeste despre a fi ascultator de legea Domnului, cum a facut acest om. Dar nu domina aceasta. Ca textul acesta vorbeste despre cum sa cauti viata vesnica.  Atinge si problema aceasta. Dar miezul  intregii naratiuni sta altundeva. Ce l-a intristat pe acest om? Totul a decurs bine. Parca il vad, asa sigur pe sine, implinea legea…. Cand Hristos i-a spus, nu sa vanda neaparat, nu sa dea la altii, ci sa-L urmeze pe El. Textul acesta vorbeste despre urmarea lui Hristos. Despre ceea ce Dumnezeu iti cere si asteapta de la tine.

Acest text vorbeste foarte mult oamenilor religiosi, ca noi. Ca si acest barbat tanar, bogat, era un om religios, ca noi. Aproape ca nu putea sa-i bage de vina. Si totusi vom vedea ca in convorbirea lui Isus cu acest bogat lipseste ceva, si noi trebuie sa observam. Domnul Isus il verifica pe acest tanar la nivelul orizontal. „Ai impliit legea?” „Da.” „Care?” „Aceia cu semenii tai. Eu nu mint, n-am ucis, nu am preacurvit, n-am furat. Deci la nivel orizontal, stau bine Doamne.”

„Atunci, de ce ma intrebi ce sa faci ca sa ai viata vesnica? Inseamna ca si tu sti ca mai lipseste ceva.” Problema acestui tanar era verticalitatea, nu orizontalitatea. A-ti observat ca Isus nu-l intreaba nimic: „Cum stai cu relatia ta cu Dumnezeu?” Doar relatia pe orizontala, cu ceilalti. De ce? Pentru ca tocmai aici statea problema tanarului. Lipsa lui, lucrul care lipseste… Acest barbat tanar cauta viata vesnica, un fel de implinire. Mai degraba, cred ca el dorea sa se justifice cu faptul ca, cel putin e aproape de viata vesnica. Domnul Isus, spune in alta evanghelie, ca l-a iubit. Adica, ca i-a placut dorinta lui. Dar ii da un raspuns contrar asteptarilor lui pentru ca l-a dibuit. I-a vazut lipsa nr. 1. Problema lui statea pe verticala.

Problema lui era confortul. De ce spun aceasta? Cel putin trei lucruri le sesizam la acest tanar:

  1. Moralitatea- era un om moral. Ce inseamna moralitate? Acea capacitate morala de a distinge intre bine si rau.  si de a urmari sa implinesti binele, nu raul. Tanarul acesta, ca multi altii se lauda cu moralitatea. Multi ne laudam cu moralitatea noastra si credem ca acesta ar fi acel lucru unic care sa ne defineasca buni pentru imparatia lui Dumnezeu. Adica, sa nu faci raul, sa alegi binele. E ca si cum ar fi o protectie fermecatoare pentru noi. Totul ti se reduce la moralitate. Nu e rau sa fi moral, sa faci binele, sa urmaresti binele. Dar, Isus Hristos ii spune acestui tanar, „Nu aceasta-ti lipseste. Nu aici este esenta vietii spirituale.” Nu aceasta e prioritatea. 
  2. Religiozitatea – Un om religios, in sensul ca-si facea datoria fata de religia lui. Pazea toate poruncile din tineretea lui. Ce sa-i mai lipseasca? Ma gandesc ca el era religios mergand la sinagoga, sau daruind celor mai sarmani. Nu excela nici intr-una, nici intr-alta. Dar era acolo, era bine. Isus observa lucrul acesta si la noi. Avem o religiozitate dupa care ne ascundem. Se stie, se vede, ne-o afisam uneori. Ne place sa fim laudati la ea. Mai avea inca un lucru bun, acest tanar bogat:
  3. Bogatie – Avea buna stare, se simtea tare bine in buna starea lui. Prea bine. Si cred ca de aici Hristos a pornit acea cercetare, patrundere, sa intrebe, „Ai fi gata tu sa renunti la tot ce ai, ca sa ma urmezi pe Mine?” Vedeti, exista ceva la fiecare dintre noi, care ne-ar putea retine sa nu ne daruim complect lui Dumnezeu. Micul nostru idol. Il ascundem acolo. Ne raportam mereu la el. Ne place de el, ne laudam cu el. In cazul acestui tanar, micul lui idol era averea, buna starea lui. De aceea, Hristos il atinge, „Esti gata sa renunti la ea pentru Mine? Sa vinzi tot ce ai, sa dai la saraci?” Aici e totul, lucrul care lipsea acestui barbat tanar si bogat. Era daruirii intregii inimi lui Dumnezeu, fara nici un idol in ea.  Si ca sa dovedesti aceasta, trebuie sa devii ucenicul lui Isus Hristos.

Problema este aceasta prioritate in suflet. Ce este prioritar, acolo in tine? Retineti, vorbesc acum religiosilor, noua, care credem ca Dumnezeu e multumit cu moralitatea noastra si cu religiozitatea noastra, cu buna starea noastra. Nu neaparat bunstarea poate sa fie materiala. Uite, poate diplomele pe care e-ai adunat, renumele dupa care te ascunzi. Altceva vrea sa auda Hristos de la noi. Nu pentru ca suntem bine, morali, religiosi, ci daca suntem disponibili, pregatiti sa lasam totul pentru El. E posibil ca El sa nu ne ceara niciodata acest lucru, sa lasam absolut totul. Cand Hristos spune, :Vinde tot ce ai, da la saraci, ia-ti crucea si urmeaza-ma, iti sugereaza altceva: Inima ta e disponibila pentru asta oricand El ti-ar cere acest lucru. (24:50)

Vedeti, prioritatea lui #1, inainte de a-L intalni pe Hristos, era problema lui #1. Inca, acest tanar traia pentru el insusi. Relatia lui pe verticala nu era in ordine. Inca, sinele lui era in centrul vietii lui si Hristos a stiut asta. La supus la un mic test, „Ai fi gata sa vinzi tot si sa vi sa ma urmezi?” Si a plecat intristat. Tinea la idolul lui, tinea la comoditatea lui, la confortul acela a buna starii. Sa fi ucenicul lui Hristos, sa risti atata, pentru ce? N-a fost gata si a plecat intristat de la intalnirea cu Hristos.

Provocarea pe care o face Hristos acestui barbat tanar si bogat este valabila si pentru noi, mai ales pentru noi. N-ai avut sentimentul, chiar daca esti pe calea credintei, ca totusi iti lipseste un lucru? Care ar fi acela? Acest tanar dorea viata vesnica, dorea acea siguranta ca ceea ce facea era bine si Isus il admira pentru aceasta pentru ca nu era ca si ceilalti, indiferenti la lucrurile spirituale. Hristos ii spune, „Ceea ce faci e necesar, dar, insuficient. E preliminar, e anticipatoriu, e de asteptat, dar e insuficient. Daca vrei sa fi desavarsit, daca vrei cu adevarat sa gasesti sensul vietii, ca sa fi implinit, mai este ceva, mai este un lucru. Vinde tot ce ai, fi gata sa renunti la tot.” Poate nu ti se va cere niciodata, dar esti gata pentru asta? Fi gata sa nu mai ti nimic pentru tine, nimic care sa te impiedice sa mergi mai departe dupa Hristos. Daca vrei sa-ti strangi o comoara in cer, te asigur ca ar trebui sa nu mai ai nici o piedica pe pamant. „Apoi vino si urmeaza-ma.” (min 33)

Viata lui Sadhu Sundar Singh – Capitolul 9A – Intoarcerea in India – Invatatura Sa

Citeste

– continuare- traducere A.C.

Din capitolul de fata, spune Sundar Singh:

„A afirma despre crestinism ca n-a izbutit in Europa si in America este o grava eroare, ce nu este bazata pe cunoasterea reala. Totodata in calatoriile mele din Occident am gasit oameni atat de ocupati cu munca, afacerile, biroul, negotul lor, ca ei nu mai au timp sa se roage si sa primeasca binecuvantarile Evangheliei. Unii dintr-insii mi-au marturisit ca viata le-a devenit atat de complicata si de aglomerata, ca sunt istoviti. Daca un om s-a anemiat din cauza ca n-a mancat si baut, putem oare sa zicem ca greseala se datoreaza alimentelor? Desigur ca nu. Singura neglijenta  acestui om este cauza slabirii sale.

„El le-a vorbit despre multe lucruri in pilde”  Matei 13:3

Care a fost motivul care l-a impus pe Sadhu sa paraseasca lucrarea sa din India si sa vina in Europa?

Mai inainte de toate pentru el a fost un act de simpla supunere: -„A trebuit sa ascult, Dumnezeu m-a trimis contra vointei mele. Eu nu sunt in largul meu in orasele mari, nici in India, nici in alta parte”.

Apoi Sundar a vrut sa vada personal daca acuzatia unor hindusi era justificata; Europa mai este oare crestina? N-a pierdut oare seva Evangheliei si influenta in lume?

Ca raspuns la o intrebare ce i-a fost pusa la Geneva cu privire la subiectul acesta, a spus: -„Venind aici, primul meu scop a fost sa depun marturie despre Isus Christos si despre puterea Lui. Apoi, am dorit sa multumesc adevaratilor crestini pentru aceea ce au facut pentru tara mea. Hindusii nu sunt ingrati. In fine, am vrut sa pot combate pe studentii nostri veniti sa studieze in Europa si care neantalnind adevarati crestini, la reantoarcerea lor in India, ataca crestinismul si defaimeaza munca misionarilor”.

„A afirma despre crestinism ca n-a izbutit in Europa si in America este o grava eroare, ce nu este bazata pe cunoasterea reala. Totodata in calatoriile mele din Occident am gasit oameni atat de ocupati cu munca, afacerile, biroul, negotul lor, ca ei nu mai au timp sa se roage si sa primeasca binecuvantarile Evangheliei. Unii dintr-insii mi-au marturisit ca viata le-a devenit atat de complicata si de aglomerata, ca sunt istoviti. Daca un om s-a anemiat din cauza ca n-a mancat si baut, putem oare sa zicem ca greseala se datoreaza alimentelor? Desigur ca nu. Singura neglijenta  acestui om este cauza slabirii sale. Europenii care insa au acceptat crestinismul cu toata inima lor si au primit binecuvantari, au desteptat lumea din somnul de moarte si au lucrat la mantuirea ei”.

Este interesant sa mai stim impresiile a doi hindusi care cunosc Occidentul, Rabindranath Tagore si Gandi. Primul a declarat: „Voi (occidentalii) nu puteti sa predicati crestinismul inainte de a fi devenit asemenea lui  Christos. Cand veti fi astfel, nu veti mai predica crestinismul, ci dragostea lui Dumnezeu, pe care El ne-o reveleaza”.

Gandi, celor care-l intrebara la Lausanne ce trebuia sa faca pentru ca crestinismul sa devina o forta in India, raspundea: „Trebuie ca voi, misionarii, sa traiti cum Christos a trait. Crestinismul este bun, insa foarte multi crestini sunt rai.

poza – Ghandi in 1906 (sursa wikipedia)

Sadhu vorbind de acesti doi barbati pe care ii cunostea personal, a spus: „Tagore si Gandi ar fi devenit probabil crestini, daca ei n-ar fi visitat Europa. In India nu ducem lipsa nici de religie, nici de scoli teologice sau filozofice, dar ceea ce lipseste in viata si conduita lor este Christos. India nu stie ce sa faca cu misionarii care nu vad in Christos decat un mare Maestru si nu cred in divinitatea Lui. Pe acestia pastrati-i la voi si nu va lasati rataciti de modernism si de critica biblica”.

Daca Sadhu nu este un amic al invataturii biblice, apoi s-a ridicat cu energie contra acelora care vor sa i se  de-a primul loc si contra intelectualismului religios. El nu este primul pentru ca: „lucrurile acestea sunt ascunse inteleptilor si inteligentilor si decoperite copiilor”. Inima este mai presus de ratiune.

– „Eu nu condamn stiinta teologica, nici pe toti teologii din care cei mai multi sunt sfinti. Eu nu ma opun studiilor, insa acelea fara viata, intuneca viziunea spirituala. O teologie fara rugaciune, este o fantana fara apa. Am invatat multe lucruri utile la studiile mele, dar cunoasterea Spiritului am primit-o la picioarele Mantuitorului”.

Reantors in India, Sundar a venit la Sabathu. Tatal sau insista sa-i construiasca o casa, lucru care a modificat viata sa de „sadhu” prin ceea ce poseda de acum inainte, adica un loc unde sa-si odihneasca capul. El cumpara o veche casa a misiunei, invecinata de o parte cu un cartier aglomerat, murdar si zgomotos, iar pe de alta parte cu dealurile dimprejur si cu o vedere mareata in departare. Aceasta locuinta era ca si simbolul vietii lui Sundar, in contact in acelasi timp cu lumea profana, adeseori murdara si cu solitudinea naturii, calma si inspiratoare.

Casa, mai era ocupata de unul din prietenii sai, un medic lucrator la azilul leprosilor din Sabathu, Sadhu se bucura acolo de viata de familie. Una din trasaturile caracterului sau era dragostea pentru copii, si lui ii placea sa se joace cu micutii doctorului. El se gandea la primirea pe care a facut-o Isus celor mai mici dintre ei, dandu-i ca exemplu: „Daca nu veti deveni ca si copiii cei mici, nu veti intra in Imparatia cerurilor; Oricine va fi smerit ca un copil, acela va fi cel mai mare in Imparatia cerurilor”.

Camera lui Sundar, foarte sobra, continea o mica biblioteca cu carti de mistica, psihologie si stiinta si fotografiile amicilor sai.

Orasul Sabathu – http://www.tribuneindia.com

C. F. Andrews, un amic personal al lui Sadhu, ne da detalii despre aceasta perioada din viata lui. In timpul lunilor linistite pe care Sundar le-a petrecut la Sabathu, a scris mai multe dintre cartile sale traduse din „urdu” in engleza si unele in franceza: „La picioarele Mantuitorului”, „Viziuni din lumea spirituala”, „Meditatiuni asupra diferitelor aspecte ale vietii spirituale”.

De indata ce engleza i-a devenit familiara, a citit mai mult. Un volum de stiinta moderna, subliniat cu grija, marturiseste interesul ce-l manifesta in lectura sa.

A fost o revelatie pentru prietenii sai, foiletand paginile atat de minutios adnotate, sa descopere una din partile necunoscute sufletului lui Sadhu. El pastra totdeauna o atitudine de spirit umila si simpla, dar puterea sa intelectuala era dezvoltata si maturizata. El s-a straduit sa patrunda in acest alt domeniu al gandirii umane, atat de diferit de al sau. Avea o mare admiratie pentru inteligenta oamenilor si nu combatea valoarea rationamentului si descoperirilor lor, insa credea cu fermitate in legile ignorate ale domeniului spiritului.

El a ramas fidel principiului fundamental care dicta actiunile sale, intreaga sa dependenta de Christos, „inceputul si sfarsitul” a toata stiinta; „Misterul lui Dumnezeu in care sunt ascunse toate comorile intelepciunei si stiintei”.

Biblia era pentru el Cuvantul chiar al lui Dumnezeu. „Ea este indrumatorul, lumina, hrana sufletului meu. Experienta a dovedit ca nu exista o alta carte in lume, care sa poata raspunde nevoilor spirituale omenesti. Greutatea limbii originale, a traducerilor, critica textelor, nici sa micsoreze influenta ei asupra sufletului meu pentru ca unicul ei scop este sa ne faca a cunoaste pe Christos”.

– „Deschizand Biblia am gasit bogatii nemasurate si eterne si impartindu-le cu altii, ele n-au facut decat sa creasca pentru mine si pentru ei. Fara aceasta carte eu n-as fi cunoscut niciodata iubirea cea infinita a lui Dumnezeu, revelata la cruce. Puterea de atractie a Bibliei nu este simtita decat de cei care o studiaza cu sinceritate si cu rugaciune. Foarte multi oameni citesc lucrari despre Biblie, in loc sa o citeasca pe ea insusi”.

Sundar avea totdeauna cu el Noul Testament in „urdu”. Ani intregi a fost singura carte pe care a citit-o. El vorbea mereu de bucuria intensa ce o gasea si stia pe dinafara Evangheliile. Istoria lui Isus era un viu exemplu inaintea sa. El cauta sa se supuna „ad literam” instructiunilor date ucenicilor. Cand Christos a zis: „Vulpile au vizuinile lor, pasarile cerului au cuiburile lor, dar Fiul Omului n-are unde sa-si plece capul”. Sundar gasea in aceste cuvinte confirmarea vietii sale de sadhu. La ordinul: nu luati cu voi nici punga, nici toiag, nici haina, el se supunea intocmai, calatorind in lumea intreaga fara sa ia cu sine vreun ban. Noi vedem Biblia din viata sa, nu numai predicata ci si traita cu toate severitatile, bogatiile si miracolele ei. Ceea ce poate sa ne apara un ideal intangibil, se gaseste intr-un fel putin comun, realizat de acest discipol al Mantuitorului.

Natura era de asemenea pentru el o carte deschisa, scrisa de Duhul Sfant intr-un limbaj spiritual. Elementele: apa, focul, norii, marea, raurile, muntii, arborii, plantele, animalele ca si scenele diferite ale vietii omenesti sunt tot atatea paralele, ilustratii, imagini care anima predicile sale. In obositoarea lui viata, el gasea o mare odihna sa contemple natura si sa descopere pretutindeni aici noi invataturi. Acolo a  citit „scrise cu litere mari”, dupa expresia sa, operele Creatorului.

„Cerurile arata gloria lui Dumnezeu, si intinderea lor fara sfarsit, lucrul mainilor Lui”.

Sundar avea o credinta ca de copil in protectia divina si credea ca o putere ingereasca il inconjoara in ceasul pericolului. El a fost obiectul unor mari scapari miraculoase, pe care deseori le-a povestit in predicile sale cu scopul sa intareasca credinta crestinilor in Atotputernicia lui Dumnezeu.

– „Multi oameni declara ca minunile nu sunt decat povesti si refuza sa le creada, pentru ca neavand cunostintele necesare, ei nu inteleg miracolul. Astfel in sudul Indiei niciodata nu este frig. Vorbind locuitorilor acestor tinuturi, eu le-am povestit ca am vazut „O punte de apa, deasupra apei”. Imposibil mi-au raspuns. Atunci le-am explicat ca suprafata apei fiind inghetata, se putea merge pe ea cu toata siguranta si ca nu era in toate acestea nimic contra legilor naturii. Locuitorii tarilor cu clima rece inteleg faptul, insa cei care n-au parasit niciodata regiunile tropicale, cum vor sesiza lucrurile oare? Tot astfel, cei care traiesc dupa felul lumii, seamana cu acei oameni care nu s-au urcat niciodata pe inaltimile de unde pot fi vazute aceste punti extraordinare. Numai cei care duc o viata de rugaciune pot urca si pricepe. Cand ma intreaba cineva despre minuni, raspund ca le-am experimentat. Eu stiu ca Christos este o Forta”

– „Desigur ca nu vei vedea minuni sfinte mergand la teatru. Daca intr-adevar doriti sa cunoasteti minunile puterii lui Dumnezeu in vietile voastre, consacrati din timpul vostru pentru rugaciune. Christos nu face nimic in scopul satisfacerii curiozitatii cuiva, ci vrea numai sa raspunda sufletului care in fiecare zi se apropie de El si se supune voiei Lui”.

– Va urma –

A Response to a Common Word

Read the document here – A Common Word

NEW: Video of John Piper’s & Al Mohler’s response, on November 18, 2009-

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

John Piper:

I agree with the second sentence in ‘A Common Word’. which goes like this: „Without peace and justice between these two religious communities – Moslems and Christians- there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” I take that to be a national, social, and personal behaviors, not to expressed feelings, expressed ideas. And, I agree with the sentence in the last paragraph in the document, that says: „So, let our  differences not cause hatred or strife between us.” Those are massive longings and I share them.

In John 18:36 Jesus said, actually He renounced the sword, as a strategy for his disciples, as a way of advancing the kingdom. He said, „If my kingdom were of this world, my disciples would be fighting. My kingdom is not of this world.” and, therefore, christians should work together with people of very radically different views religiously, in order to seek ways to avoid unjust violence. They should seek together to preserve freedom of religious worship, religious assembly, religious public proclamation. Christians should renounce the use of physical force either through illegal violence or legal punishment aimed at restricting peaceful, non coercive religious expression, religious worship or persuasive religious speech.

But, the central summons of ‘A Common Word’ is flawed. This summons aims to provide a foundation for all future interfaith dialogue. Page 15 says, „Let this common ground be the basis for future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that upon which hangs all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22.

So, what is the central summons of a common word?

The phrase „A Common Word Between Us” is taken from the Koran. Quoting God, it says, „Oh people of the scripture, (Jews and christians) come to a common word between us and you, that we shall worship  none but God.”

The quotation is important because it makes clear that the central summons of ‘A Common Word’ is not that we agree as monotheists on the formal principles of love to God (whoever He is) and love to neighbor (whoever he is). That may be true. But, what the quotation from the Koran makes clear is that the central summons of ‘A Common Word’ is that christians and Moslems actually love the same God. In other words, when I read ‘A Common Word’, my question was: Is the thesis that formally our religions are similar? You put a lot of importance in love for God and neighbor. We put a lot of importance in love for God and neighbor. Those are structurally and formally similar, and we can meet on that basis.

Or, does it mean: We have a love for God and you have a love for God. That common love for that common God is the foundation. It’s the latter (that) the document means. There are 2 other reasons for believing that. The paragraph, following the one I just quoted, identifies this summons in the koran with a great commandment in the Bible. They say, „Clearly, also worshipping none but God relates to being totally devoted to God, and hence, to the first and greatest commandment. Thus, we are summoned to stand together, on the common ground of one worship of God, one devotion to God, and one love for God.” A third piece of evidence from „A Common Word”. It quotes the Koran, as follows: „Say, oh Moslems, we believe in God, and that which Moses and Jesus received. And, if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then they are rightly guided. But, if they turn away, then they are in schism, and God will suffice thee against them.”

The main problem with the Yale response

So, its clear that the common ground, held out in ‘A Common Word’, is not a formal similarity in the two monotheistic religions, but, an actual shared love for the one God. Before I turn to what’s flawed about that, the main problem with the Yale response, which has not been addressed, is that it agrees with that. That’s the main problems. I don’t have any objections to what they address. I’ve got five, but, they’re different form all of those. And this is the main one, and the key sentence is found in the section ‘The Task Before Us’, and goes like this-this is now the Yale response to ‘A Common Word’: „We need to work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect ‘our common love for God and of one another’.” That’s the most problematic sentence in the document.

It’s clear from the phrase ‘our common love for God’, that those who wrote this, either misspoke- which is unlikely, since too many other traits in the document point in this direction, or that they agree with ‘A Common Word’ and the common ground for Moslem-Christian dialogue is not a formal similarity in our religions, but, in fact, a shared love for one true God and for our neighbor.

The flaw in the Common Ground, proposed in A Common Word, and embraced by the Yale response is that Jesus makes clear it does not exist.

My contention would be that this absence of such a common ground must be made explicit, not for the sake of destroying dialogue, or undermining peace. But, from a christian side, for the sake of forthright, honest, publicly faithful, Christ exalting, trust preserving dialogue, and for truth based durable peace. Jesus said, „I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in the Father’s name and you do not receive Me. If another comes in in his own name, you will receive him.” So, when Jesus says ‘receive Him’, He means ‘receive Him for who He really is- the divine, eternal Son of God who lays down His life for His sheep; takes it up again in three days’. If a person does not receive Him in this way, Jesus says that person does not love God. Jesus also said, „The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” And when He says ‘honor the Son’, He means ‘honor Him for who He really is’- ‘the divine, eternal Son of God who lays down His life for His sheep; takes it up again in three days’.

The person who does not honor Jesus in this way, does not honor God. Jesus said, „You know neither Me, nor my Father. If you knew Me, you would know My Father.” When Jesus says „if you knew Me”, He means „know Me for who I really am”. So, the person who does not know Jesus as the divine, eternal, crucified, risen Son of God does not know God. Historically, Moslems do not know Jesus, honor Jesus or receive Jesus for who He really is: The divine, eternal Son of God, who laid down His life on the cross for sinners, and rose again form the dead. So, whoever believes in Him would be saved. Therefore, Jesus says Moslems do not know God, they do not honor God, and they do not love God. As offensive as this is, Jesus said it to the most Bible saturated, ritually disciplined, God aware religious people of His day.

Therefore, the central summons of ‘A Common Word’ shared by the Yale response is deeply flawed, namely it doesn’t exist. I believe, therefore, there is a better way forward between christians and moslems. Especially, I am thinking scholars. Not your run of the mill, average, evangelistic encounter, across the street from my church, where there are thousands of Somali moslems, as my neighbors. I’m thinking of scholars and clergy writing documents for each other and who know what each other already thinks, by and large.

From the christian side, it will be honest, biblically faithful, Christ centered, Christ exalting, truth preserving dialogue, if we put these things on the table. Not in any way to push each other apart, but, to talk in basis of the most painful differences. I believe with all my heart, that as forgiven sinners, who owe our lives to God bought grace, we christians can look with love, and good will, and even tender hearted compassion into the eyes of moslems and say, „I don’t believe you know God, I don’t believe you honor God, I don’t believe you love God. And I hope that through our conversation, the beauty of Christ will be more clearly seen, for who He really is. And, if we were threatened in this room right now, by christian or moslem, I would hope that I would die for these men. Not push them in front of me, but, stand in front of them. In other words, I think it’s possible to talk this way with affection, heart felt longings, and still say what I just said. I don’t think people who reject Jesus, in principle, not to receive Him for who He is, is not to know God, not to honor God, not to love God.

So I’m avoiding the language that we worship different Gods. I’m just trying to say what Jesus said here. If our love for God is to be spoken of as central, I think it has to come from 1 John4:10-11- In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. That is the most essential definition of christian divine love. And the next verse is: If God so loved us, we ought to love one another. That’s my basis for moving towards moslems. The very love of God that they don’t share is the love of God that moves me to the table. (15:00)

Al Mohler:

It is good to be here because we are drawn here by a sense of the  imperative. The imperative is not merely to remove obstacles to world peace, rather, far more fundamental obstacles to understanding. And, as christians, we come with a sense of urgency driven by the Gospel, and not just a sense of urgency for comity. I want to stand in fundamental agreement with the concerns that I articulated when the issue first emerged on ‘A Common Word’ and the Yale Response. Subsequent months have given the opportunity for further conversation, and further reflection. But, I am driven back where I first began. And that is, with a deep concern about what I believe to be a misrepresentation found in both ‘A Common Word’ and the Yale Response, are the very heart of where  christians should be most concerned to be clear. I am glad to be engaged in respectful dialogue, and dialogue means where we do not share a common ground, we are not ready to share a common word. We’re gonna speak clearly about that and why it is so.

The ‘A Common Word’ statement is indeed remarkable. And, in fact, it is almost surely historically singular.  And when one considers what this means, as has been described „a hand reaching out to the Moslem world”, it is imperative that we take it seriously, that we take it respectfully, and we seek for understanding. I think that one of the most remarkable aspects of this statement is where it very clearly declares that is is not simply ‘a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders’. This is an attempt, at least straightforwardly from the moslem world, to broaden this kind of dialogue and to move beyond- I think the crucial world in that sentence being- ‘merely polite’ (and I understand the need for that. There is a sense in which etiquette, which can be suggested as grounded in respect, may actually be a matter of disrespect when one does not discuss what is most fundamental). The statement describes christians and moslems as ‘faith communities’ and calls for these communities to be at peace with one another. It then goes on to declare, what in terms of geopolitics is certainly true: The most important factor in contributing to a meaningful peace for the world, would be the kind of respectful dialogue between christians and moslems. And, the fact that these faith communities, as described in the document, would be, as also described- at peace with one another. The document goes so far as to say: „The survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”

The most interesting aspect of the ‘A Common Word’ document in my mind, is that it clearly claims theological ground. And it goes beyond the mere assertion of what might be a common word to what might be a ‘common word’ and a declaration and a description of what that ‘common word’ would be- at least consisting of the 2 greatest commands of love of God and love of neighbor. The document, very clearly, seeks thereby to link Torah, and the Bible, and the Koran. In speaking of reaching out a hand of friendship, the document, very clearly and historically, singularly calls for a kind of dialogue that therefore we may expect has never before existed. And the fact that it has not existed is perhaps because, as this document seems to imply, there’s been a lack of understanding of the shared ground, in terms of the two greatest commands, of the love of God, and love of neighbor.

In response, the Yale statement ‘Loving God and neighbor together speaks of the moslem hand of friendship and of the desire of the christians, and that response, both the authors and the signatories to „extend our christian hand in return”. I, too, believe the hand must be returned. I would suggest: I believe it should be a different hand. A different kind of statement, a different kind of response. As in the moslem statement, the Yale Response also seeks to ground this  extended hand in common beliefs, as common ground: „What is common between us, lies not in something marginal , nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely to both- love of God and love of neighbor”. In another section it quotes: „that this common ground consists in love of God and love of neighbor’ and gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities”.

So the logic here is that in response to ‘ A Common Word’ we can affirm a common ground. Now, at one point i can say, fundamentally there is much common ground. If we are speaking, indeed, of two different belief systems, who are seeking to understand, just as a matter of phenomenology, and intellectual survey where there are commonalities; there are many commonalities. There are many commonalities between the Bible and the Koran. There are many commonalities between the belief systems and the moralities that are put forth by both christianity and Islam.

Beyond merely monotheism

There are indeed many commonalities, and the ideological factor of monotheism is indeed a matter of formal similarity. But, it is also a matter of deep dissimilarity. I would suggest that the common ground that is suggested in both of these statements, actually, from a christian perspective, simply rooted in the New Testament and the words of Jesus does not exist. Does this claim, thus clarify or confuse? I believe that it does confuse. And it confuses in a way that christians, most especially must never confuse. The issue is presented as monotheism. And, in dealing with monotheism, for instance- in seeking to ground the Yale Response, one of the documents intent on clarifying, in the questions and answers in the document to come out, the book to come out from Zondervan, is this- So, if there exists one true God, and members of all three Abrahamic faiths claim to worship one God, then perhaps the question: Do Moslems, and Christians, and Jews worship the same God? is not the right question at all. A more appropriate question might be: Do Moslems and Christians and Jews all worship God truly? Perhaps the instances of our discussions with Moslems should focus more on whom we might more truly know and worship the one true God and not another we are all in practice, actually doing so”. 22:54

Monotheism, the states belief in only one God is indeed a formal similarity. But, is it actually shared ground? Is it actually a common ground? Is it actually something that arises to a common word? One of the things stated in the documents is that Christians and Moslems claim to practice and to worship the one true God. I do not believe that monotheism is defined in these statements (both A Common Word and the Yale Response) as common ground. Surely, the issue of number is not the issue. No one can claim that all monotheists worship the same God, unless we believe that the one god appears to a lesser or greater degree in virtually every affirmation of monotheism.

Another problematic construction here is the reference to the 3 Abrahamic faiths. Now, from some kind of historical perspective, in looking at this as one who comes with no theological commitments, certainly, you would want to affirm that the historical figure of Abraham appears in a patriarchal role in all three faiths: Judaism, and Christianity, and Islam. But, to describe the three Abrahamic faiths as suggesting that they share a common monotheism, I think is very, very dangerous. All three do look to Abraham as patriarch, but the three have very different understanding in Abraham’s role in salvation history and in Abraham’s own convictions, as is reflected  in the Bible.

The problematic issue of Abrahamic faith, thy the way, is if there are three, why only three? There would certainly be new monotheistic religions that have emerged out of Judaism and Christianity and Islam that would claim the same. For instance- There are many contemporary authorities in Mormonism, who define Mormonism  as also an Abrahamic faith. That will have to wait a different discussion. Getting at the issue of monotheism, I think one of the helpful, erroneous ways of looking at this is that offered by Kennet Craig. He has suggested that Moslems and Christians refer to the same subject, when we talk about God, but to very different predicates.

The Yale Statement does not deny that there are differences  at the level of the predicates. As a matter of fact, to give the statement it’s due, it’s rather clear about those differences, and Joseph and others have made that issue clear. Christians contend for christian predicates, while Moslems contend for Moslem predicates. But, when the questions arises, Yale suggests in the question: Do Moslems and Christians (and Jews) all worship God truly? That implies that it is a common subject, merely with different predicates and our dialogue should be addressed to the level of determining the proper predicates.

As a christian theologian, as an evangelical, I do believe this to be fundamentally flawed. I think that the distinction between the subject and the predicate has a very interesting intellectual appeal, but, it is fundamentally incapable of carrying the weight of this argument because it implies that you may have one subject with different predicates, and the subject remain the same. In reality, the subject is defined by its predicates. And in this case, the different predicates are not merely different and distinct. They are contradictory where it matters most.  The title of my paper would be ‘Beyond merely monotheism’.

And, it would be the assertion that as straightforwardly as I would know, to make clear that there is no such thing as mere monotheism. Every monotheism, every theism, but in particular every monotheism has a reverent. And for christians, our monotheism is deeply, inescapably, irreducibly chronological. Our monotheism is defined, not most centrally, by a claim, merely that God is one. But rather- that the one true God is revealed conclusively in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, as indeed, fully divine and fully human. The incarnate Son of God. This is where Christianity and Islam in it’s classical form, run into direct contradiction on what might be described, using that model between subjects and predicates as the predicate. But, for christians, that predicate defines the subject.

When Moslems declare, on the basis of the koran, that Allah has no son, no associate, no partner, it’s very important that we recognize that this is directly what defines monotheism  in the understanding of the Moslem world and in Moslem theology. But, whether or not Moslems were here, and I hear that is not what is central to Islam, that is something that Islamic theologians would have to define, it is, at least for Christians, a central obstacle to our understanding that we would actually share the same subject, while differing on the predicates. The question then comes to us from a Christian perspective: Is it possible to know the Father, the one true God, while rejecting Jesus as His Son- fully divine and fully human. This is where Jesus appears in the Gospels, most clearly to reject that assertion. The answer to that question is: No.

In John 8:42, Christ says, „If God were your father, you would love Me.”  This is no mere monotheism. Jesus was addressing Himself to the most rigorously monotheistic  people on the planet. In John 8:54 Jesus said, „My Father, glorifies Me, of whom you say: He is our God (speaking of the Father) and yet you have not come to know Him”. Now, the logic of this is in the fact that from a Christian perspective there’s no mere monotheism. I think it’s very important that as theologians we speak carefully of the fact that theism always has a referent.

One of the difficulties of our contemporary days, is for instance the  use of the word ‘faith’. Faith is not in itself a substance. It is a substance in an object. And faith always has a referent. So, to say that there’s a person of faith, well, there are no persons who are not persons of some faith. The issue is, what is the referent to that faith, what is the object  of that faith. And in the same way, speaking of monotheism, one must speak of the actual subject. What is, exactly, our declaration concerning this one God? I would suggest that it’s not to cherry pick from the New Testament to understand the very clear and essential logic of the New Testament and in particular Jesus, as He speaks in John. And that, long before Jesus’s encounter with the pharisees, with whom He declares this very kind of clear Christological  monotheism, deeply rooted in the introductory chapter of the Gospel of John. We are presented with a decisive fact of revelation in the incarnation of the Christ. We come to understand that the Father loves the Son (John 3:35-36)  and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but He who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. There is no mere monotheism.

Much closer to home in the historic christian conversation , has been our conversation with the Jewish people. No one best represents that more than the apostle Paul, who in Romans 10:2 speaks of monotheistic Jews, that have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. Now, there are those that would suggest that that is a showstopper in terms of interfaith dialogue. That that is to nullify any opportunity to have a respectful dialogue. I would suggest that understanding where we do share common beliefs is important. But, of equal and necessary importance is understanding where we do not share those common beliefs and any confusion between the two is not only a matter of intellectual sloppiness form a Christian perspective, it is a matter of eternal consequence. And our fundamental irresponsibility and our unfaithfulness in terms of the Gospel.

The ‘A Common Word’ document and the Yale Response now present us with an unavoidable and not unwelcome opportunity to discuss these things. The opportunity we have, to be in this room together, to discuss this and which is to take place within the context of the evangelical theological society, affords us the opportunity to be ever more clear about the Gospel. We must not confuse the most central and essential issue. We must not imply the existence of common ground where none exists, or, at least where it cannot exist as defined and implied. For Christians, the issue is the Gospel, and we can do nothing that would confuse the Gospel. I would hope that as we seek the common ground in this room, of a common understanding of what is at stake in „A Common Word” and in the Yale Response, that we can move in such a way that will bring honor to God, and one that will bring great clarity to the Gospel. And, as a Christian theologian, I must say, the judgment of God will be upon me and upon many others who confuse what must be most clear. In the spirit of respectful dialogue, I am glad to enter into this conversation. I think that this is a good beginning and opportunity to provide an example to how such a conversation began. And, I do trust and pray that it will continue.

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