Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rejection or limitation of omnipotence

Some monotheists reject the view that God is or could be omnipotent, or take the view that, by choosing to create creatures with freewill, God has chosen to limit divine omnipotence. In Conservative and Reform Judaism, and some movements within Protestant Christianity, including process theology and open theism, God is said to act in the world through persuasion, and not by coercion (for open theism, this is a matter of choice--God could act miraculously, and perhaps on occasion does so--while for process theism it is a matter of necessity--creatures have inherent powers that God cannot, even in principle, override). God is manifest in the world through inspiration and the creation of possibility, not necessarily by miracles or violations of the laws of nature.

The rejection of omnipotence often follows from either philosophical or scriptural considerations, discussed below.

Philosophical groundsProcess theology rejects unlimited omnipotence on a philosophical basis, arguing that omnipotence as classically understood would be less than perfect, and is therefore incompatible with the idea of a perfect God.
The idea is grounded in Plato's oft-overlooked statement that "Being is power."
My notion would be, that anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the effect, has real existence; and I hold that the definition of being is simply power
– Plato, 247E

From this premise, Charles Hartshorne argues further that:
Power is influence, and perfect power is perfect influence ... power must be exercised upon something, at least if by power we mean influence, control; but the something controlled cannot be absolutely inert, since the merely passive, that which has no active tendency of its own, is nothing; yet if the something acted upon is itself partly active, then there must be some resistance, however slight, to the "absolute" power, and how can power which is resisted be absolute?

– Hartshorne, 89
The argument can be stated as follows:
1) If a being exists, then it must have some active tendency 2) If beings have some active tendency, then they have some power to resist God 3) If beings have the power to resist God, then God does not have absolute power Thus, if God does not have absolute power, God must therefore embody some of the characteristics of power, and some of the characteristics of persuasion. This view is known as dipolar theism.

The most popular works espousing this point are from Harold Kushner (in Judaism). The need for a modified view of omnipotence was also articulated by Alfred North Whitehead in the early 20th century and expanded upon by the aforementioned philosopher Charles Hartshorne. Hartshorne proceeded within the context of the theological system known as process theology.


On some crucifixes a skull and crossbones are shown below the corpus, referring to Golgotha (Calvary), the site at which Jesus was crucified--"the place of the skull." It was probably called "Golgotha" because it was a burial-place, or possibly because of a legend that the place of Jesus' crucifixion was also the burial place of Adam.

The standard, four-pointed Latin crucifix consists of an upright stand and a crosspiece to which the sufferer's arms were nailed. The Eastern Orthodox crucifix includes two additional crossbars: the shorter nameplate, to which INRI was affixed; and the shorter stipes, to which the feet were nailed, which is angled upward toward penitent thief St. Dismas (to the viewer's left) and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas (to the viewer's right). It is thus eight-pointed. The corpora of Eastern Orthodox crucifixes tend to be two-dimensional icons that show Jesus as already dead, as opposed to the depictions of the still-suffering Jesus that can be found in some other Churches.

Some denominations of Christianity prefer to depict the cross without the corpus. This may be to emphasize the resurrection, or because the image of Christ's death is too intense, or because they believe that its inclusion would constitute idolatry. Some portray the body of Jesus on the cross to illustrate that Jesus has not yet risen.

A third type of depiction of the body on the cross is what might be called a "resurrection cross" or "resifix" depicting a triumphant risen Christ (clothed in robes, rather than stripped as for his execution) with arms raised, appearing to rise up from the cross, sometimes accompanied by "rays of light."

Contrasting views of the Godhead

The nature of the Godhead is defined differently among different Christian denominations. In most branches of Christianity, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism, trinitarianism prevails and the Godhead is viewed as the Holy Trinity, and so the word Godhead is often used interchangeably with Trinity.

Contrasting views of the Godhead include the version of tritheism accepted by some denominations of Mormonism, the unitarianism of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Monotheistic Modalism of the Oneness Pentecostals, the Binitarianism of some Seventh day Church of God groups, the Dualism of Gnosticism, and various other nontrinitarian views of denominations such as the Church of Christ, Scientist, the Unification Church, and Unitarian Universalism.

Israelite Father God

In the monotheistic Israelite religion, God is called the "Father" with a unique sense of familiarity. God is considered "Father" because he created (and in a sense "fathered") the world. He also stands as the patriarchal law-giver, and the one who through covenant maintains a special father-child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his oracles, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel "his first-born son". The Jewish God is also attributed the fatherly role of protector: he is called the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, as their protector and guarantor of justice. He is also called the Father of the king, as a teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.

Trinitarianism and other Christian conceptions

To trinitarian Christians (which since post-apostolic times has represented the vast Christian majority), God the Father is not at all a separate god from the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other members of the Christian Godhead. Trinitarian Christians describe these three persons as a Trinity. This means that they always exist as three distinct "persons" (Greek hypostases), but they are one God, each having full identity as God himself (a single "substance"), a single "divine nature" and power, and a single "divine will". Theologian Alex Nicholson alluded Trinitarianism to how water can be a liquid, a solid (ice) and a gas, but maintain the same elemental properties.

Similar to the way that the Tritarian God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (different in context) and essentially the same being.
Other Christians, nonetheless, held alternative ideas about the Trinity. A handful have described the Father, Son and Spirit as each a distinct, eternally existent being (tritheism), or as a different "manifestation" of a single being (modalism). Some have theorized that the relationship of Father and Son began at some point probably outside of normal "history" (Arianism); and others have believed that God became a Father when he uttered his creating Λογος ("logos" or "word"), who is both a principle of order and a living being to whom God bears the relationship as Father (some gnostics). Others found strong affinity with traditional pagan ideas of a savior or hero who is begotten by deity, an idea of the Father similar to Mithraism or the cult of the Roman emperor.

For many Christians, the person of God the Father is the ultimate, and on occasion the exclusive addressee of prayer, often in the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord's Prayer, for example, begins, "Our Father who art in Heaven...."
In the New Testament, God the Father has a special role in his relationship with the person of the Son, where Jesus is believed to be his Son and his heir (Hebrews 1:2-5). According to the Nicene Creed, the Son (Jesus Christ) is "eternally begotten of the Father", indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is not tied to an event within time or human history. See Christology. The Bible refers to Christ as the beginning of God's creation, and hence as God's "firstborn."
In Eastern Orthodox theology, God the Father is the "source" or "origin" of both the Son and the Holy Spirit; in Western theology, all three hypostases or persons have their origin in the divine nature instead. The Cappadocian Fathers used this Eastern Orthodox monarchian understanding to explain why trinitarianism is not tritheism: "God is one because the Father is one," said Basil the Great in the fourth century. In the eighth century, John of Damascus wrote at greater length about the Father's role:

Whatsoever the Son has from the Father, the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son and the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Synoptic Gospels of Jesus

According to the list occurring in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1-4, Luke 6:12-16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom also He named Apostles, were:
Simon: called Peter (Grk. petros, petra; Aram. kef; Engl. rock) by Jesus, also known as Simon bar Jonah and Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.) and earlier (Pauline Epistles were written first) Cephas (Aram.) by Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44; cf. 12:21)
Andrew: brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist, and also the First-Called Apostle
James and John: sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges (an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder")
Philip: from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44, 12:21)
Bartholomew: in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, some identify with Nathanael
Thomas: also known as Judas Thomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymous = twin
James: commonly identified with James the Less and sometimes with James, brother of Jesus
Matthew: the tax collector, some identify with Levi son of Alphaeus
Simon the Canaanite: called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot", some identify with Simeon of Jerusalem
Judas Iscariot: the name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists), or to Issachar;
He was replaced as an apostle in Acts by Matthias
The identity of the other apostle of the twelve, traditionally called St. Jude, varies between the Synoptic Gospels and also between ancient manuscripts of each gospel:
Mark names him as Thaddaeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew also identify him as Thaddeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Lebbaeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Judas the Zealot
Luke names him as Judas, son of James or in the KJV: "Judas the brother of James" Luke 6:16
The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a formal list of apostles, but does refer to the Twelve in 6:67, 6:70, and 6:71. The following nine apostles are identified by name:
Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
the sons of Zebedee (plural form implies at least two apostles)
Thomas (also called Didymus (11:16, 20:24, 21:2))
Judas Iscariot
Judas (not Iscariot) (14:22)

Baptism of Jesus

In the synoptic gospels, Jesus is baptised by John the Baptist. This event is the basis[citation needed] of the Christian rite of baptism. In these accounts, John the Baptist preached repentence and baptism for the forgivness of sins. Jesus comes to the Jordan River and is baptised there by John. After the baptism occurs the heavens open, the holy spirit formed as a dove a dove descends from heaven, and God pronounces that Jesus is his son god says 'this is my son whom i am well pleased!'. Jesus then goes into the wilderness where the devil tempts him, and when he returns he begins his ministry. In the gospel of John, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Son of God but doesn't baptize him.

Most Christian groups view the baptism of Jesus as an important event, and historically it has caused much debate on the issue of Christology. In Roman Catholicism, the baptism of Jesus is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

Jesus' baptism is commemorated on a day between 7 and 13 January in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some other western denominations


There was a certain King who gave a great feast upon the occasion of his son's wedding. And he sent out his servants to bring in those that had been invited, but they would not come. Then he sent forth other servants, saying, "Tell them which were bidden, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come unto the feast.'" But they made light of the message and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his warehouse; others took the servants and slew them.

When the King heard what had been done, he was very angry, and sent out his army to destroy the murderers, and burn up their city. Then said he to the servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and all ye shall find, bid them come to the marriage." So they gathered together as many as they could find. And upon each one, as he entered the house, was put a beautiful marriage garment, which the King had prepared. But when the people were all seated, and the King had entered the house, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding garment, and he said unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither without a wedding garment?"

And the man was speechless, for the garment had been offered to him at first, but he had refused it. Then said the King to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness."

In this parable, the King means God, who gave the feast for His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who were first asked were the Jews, who refused to believe in Christ. Those who were afterwards brought in, signify the people who have since listened to His Word, and believed in Him. The one without the wedding garment is any one that pretends to accept the invitation to be one of God's people, but in his heart does not believe in Christ.

Back To Stories from the New Testament

The Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31 19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

6And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Parable of the Growing Seed

Mark 4: 26-29And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. The Parable of the Growing Seed is a parable found in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 4:26-29) and partly in that of Thomas (Thomas 21d).

Its fragmentary presence in Thomas makes it plausible for it to have ultimately derived from the Q Gospel, though it is unusual for it not to also be present in either the Gospel of Matthew or that of Luke.In the parable, Jesus is described as arguing that one scatters seeds on the ground, they sprout and grow, but, before the science of botany developed, it was unknown how they did so. Yet, although no heed is paid to their actual growth, unless modern scientific farming is involved, as soon as the grain ripen it is cut down, because the harvest has come.

The Gospel of Thomas only contains the last part of this - the cutting down - the initial part is only implied. .The examples and perspective in this article or section may not include all significant viewpoints.Please improve the article or discuss the issue on the talk page.Most scholars interpret the parable as meaning that one cannot, and should not try to, understand the process of spiritual growth, any more than other obscure and complex processes, though the end results themselves are rewarding. Most Evangelical Christians have similar opinions, but additionally interpret the parable in a similar manner to Dr R.A. Cole (in New Bible Commentary) - that one need not understand spiritual growth in order to share it

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ministry of Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Plain, Twelve Apostles, and Transfiguration of JesusSermon on the Mount, Carl Heinrich Bloch, 19th c.The Gospels state that Jesus, as Messiah, was sent to "give his life as a ransom for many" and "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God." Over the course of his ministry, Jesus is said to have performed various miracles, including healings, exorcisms, walking on water, turning water into wine, and raising several people, such as Lazarus, from the dead (John 11:1–44).Judæa and Galilee at the time of JesusThe Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts over the course of Jesus' ministry.

This implies that Jesus preached for a period of three years, although some interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels suggest a span of only one year. The focus of his ministry was toward his closest adherents, the Twelve Apostles, though many of his followers were considered disciples. Jesus led what many believe to have been an apocalyptic following. He preached that the end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful. Jesus also taught the necessity of repentance and the danger of damnation (Luke 13:1-5, Luke 12:1-5).At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted huge crowds numbering in the thousands, primarily in the areas of Galilee and Perea (in modern-day Israel and Jordan respectively). Some of Jesus' most famous teachings come from the Sermon on the Mount, which contained the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often employed parables, such as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Sower. His teachings centered around unconditional self-sacrificing God-like love for God and for all people.

During his sermons, he preached about service and humility, the forgiveness of sin, faith, turning the other cheek, love for one's enemies as well as friends, and the need to follow the spirit of the law in addition to the letter.Jesus often met with society's outcasts, such as the publican (Imperial tax collectors who were despised for extorting money), including the apostle Matthew; when the Pharisees objected to Jesus' meeting with sinners rather than the righteous, Jesus replied that it was the sick who need a physician, not the healthy (Matthew 9:9–13). According to Luke and John, Jesus also made efforts to extend his ministry to the Samaritans, who followed a different form of the Israelite religion.

This is reflected in his preaching to the Samaritans of Sychar, resulting in their conversion (John 4:1–42).According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, John, and James - to the top of a mountain to pray. While there, he was transfigured before them, his face shining like the sun and his clothes brilliant white; Elijah and Moses appeared adjacent to him. A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the sky said, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." The gospels also state that toward the end of his ministry, Jesus began to warn his disciples of his future death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21-28).

Genealogy of Jesus Jesus and Mary

: Black Madonna of CzęstochowaOf the four gospels, only Matthew and Luke give accounts of Jesus' genealogy. The accounts in the two gospels are substantially different, and various theories have been proposed to explain the discrepancies (see Genealogy of Jesus). Both accounts, however, trace his line back to King David and from there to Abraham. These lists are identical between Abraham and David, but they differ between David and Joseph. Matthew starts with Solomon and proceeds through the kings of Judah to the last king, Jeconiah. After Jeconiah, the line of kings terminated when Babylon conquered Judah.

Thus, Matthew shows that Jesus is the legal heir to the throne of Israel. Luke's genealogy is longer than Matthew's; it goes back to Adam and provides more names between David and Jesus.Joseph appears only in descriptions of Jesus' childhood. John's account of Jesus commending Mary into the care of the beloved disciple during his crucifixion (John 19:25–27) suggests that Joseph had died by the time of Jesus' ministry. The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Galatians tell of Jesus' relatives, including possible brothers and sisters. The Greek word adelphos in these verses, often translated as brother, can refer to any familial relation, and most Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians translate the word as kinsman or cousin in this context (see Perpetual virginity of Mary).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spiritual ministry ideals

Religion of Rationality Ordains Ministers for Free

by: Crash Winfield
The Temple of Earth has recently announced that it will ordain anyone online (at www.templeofearth.com ) for free. Of course, this is nothing new. Many online religious organizations offer free ordination. But the Temple of Earth aims to provide something qualitatively different from the others. "The TOE," as it is affectionately referred to by its adherents, is "The World's First Religion of Reason." That is, it aims to promote rationality and a type of humanist philosophy which embraces spiritual notions but stops short at offering pat explanations about life, the universe and everything. "This is not atheism," asserts the Deacon of the Temple, "We are not saying that there is no God. But the idea of God is so abstract and means so many things to so many people that questions about it are meaningless. Many people say God is nature. In that case, studying the laws of nature would be the same as trying to understand God. And this is what we do. But why call it God?

We just call it nature." According to the website, religious organizations have received untold benefits from their status as religions while rationalists have had no effective way to band together to offer support, camaraderie and spiritual inspiration. Which begs the question: can one be both rational and spiritual? The TOE says yes. "The great renaissance philosophers and scholars were equal parts scientist and artist," points out the Deacon, "They saw the spirituality inherent in systems. By which I mean the mystery of patterns beyond our present reckoning. The difference between a rationalist and a religionist is that the rationalist is actively trying to explore and make sense of those patterns. The religionist claims to have it pretty much figured out already. For this our society gives them special dispensation. We think that's unfair." To become ordained, one must merely visit the website, provide essential details: name, date and the desired religious title. Seconds later a colorful certificate appears announcing the ordination. From there it's up to the newly-ordained minister to decide what he or she wants to do with it. Many states will allow ministers of any religion to officiate wedding ceremonies. Resources on the TOE website provide suggestions on how to form a "TOE ring" - essentially a private congregation of like-minded ministers. Other certificates with the Temple seal are available for download - certificates of friendship, love, baby-naming and even pet-naming among them. They are all free. "We're not doing this for financial gain but to promote a rationality in the world," says the Deacon, "One could argue that every single atrocity that occurs among human beings is a direct result of the exaltation of irrationality. If we can encourage people to venerate rational thinking in the same way others do with religion, it could have a real, lasting and positive effect on the world." When questioned about atrocities resulting from the excesses of science, the Deacon replies, "Science is not to blame for the bad things people do.

Science provides pure information. It is up to us how we interpret and what we do with that information. The more rational we are, the better our choices will be." And what about feeling and intuition? According to the Temple of Earth these are crucial for human creativity, but reason must always be the final arbiter of truth. "Intuition without reason is the genesis of genocide," The Deacon insists. And love? Surely there's no place for love in a religion of rationality. But the Deacon replies, "On the contrary. Love is the most rational thing in the world. Without each other we are nothing. Love, affinity, friendship - this is the essence of humanity. Love is arguably what gave rise to language and the intellect and culture in the first place. The TOE is a religion of love as much as it is a religion of reason. And we avow that reason can help us love and embrace more of humanity than any ideology or traditional religion ever could." According to the Deacon a great deal of interest has been expressed and although he won't divulge how many ministers have already been ordained, he replies with a smile, "The response has been phenomenal."

About The AuthorCrash Winfield is a frequent contributor to many international magazines and journals.

What is a negro spiritual

Spirituals were often expressions of religious faith, although they may also have served as socio-political protests veiled as assimilation to white, American culture. They were originated by enslaved Africans in the United States. Slavery was introduced to the European colonies in 1619, and enslaved people largely replaced indentured servants as an economic labor force during the 17th century. This labor force would remain in bondage for the entire 18th century and much of the 19th century. They were released with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by United States Secretary of State William Henry Seward on December 18, 1865. The Amendment was passed by Congress January 31, 1865, and was ratified by 27 of the then 36 states.

During slavery in the United States, there were negro spiritual efforts to de-Africanize the captive Black workforce. Enslaved people were forbidden to speak their native languages, to play drums, or practice their mostly Animist and Muslim faiths. They were urged to become Christians and often forced to identify as Christians by slavemasters, who used Christianity as a tool of control.

What is a Negro Spiritual Mean

Scholars debate the degree to which Christianity among enslaved Africans in the U.S. was a syncretic faith, but there is no doubt Blacks suffused their practice of religion with African religious beliefs and customs. The imprint of Africa was evident in the oral and musical traditions in the style and cadence of liturgical delivery, and in call and response in song and sermon; in the use of blue notes and syncopation in musical expression and dance styles; in the sometimes exuberant, but always very personal and democratic, self-expression through testifying, possession and speaking in tongues; and in full-immersion baptism. In comparison with the worship style of whites, Africanized Christianity was often lively, loud and spontaneous.

It was not long before further restrictions were placed on the religious expression of slaves. Rows of benches in places of worship discouraged congregants from spontaneously jumping to their feet and dancing. The use of musical instruments of any kind often was forbidden, and slaves were ordered to desist from the "paganism" of the practice of spiritual possession. Nonetheless, the Christian principles that teach those who suffer on earth hold a special place with God in heaven undoubtedly spoke to the enslaved who saw this as hope and could certainly relate to the suffering of Jesus. For this reason many slaves genuinely embraced Christianity.
Because they were unable to express themselves freely in ways that were spiritually meaningful to them, enslaved Africans often held secret religious services. During these “camp meetings” and “bush meetings,” worshippers were free to engage in African religious rituals such as spiritual possession, speaking in tongues and shuffling in counterclockwise ring shouts to communal shouts and chants. It was there also that enslaved Africans further crafted the impromptu musical expression of field songs into the so-called "line signing" and intricate, multi-part harmonies of struggle and overcoming, faith, forbearance and hope that have come to be known as "Negro Spirituals."

While slaveowners used Christianity to teach enslaved Africans to be long-suffering, forgiving and obedient to their masters, as practiced by the enslaved, it became a kind of liberation theology. The story of Moses and The Exodus of the "children of Israel" and the idea of an Old Testament God who struck down the enemies of His "chosen people" resonated deeply with the enslaved ("He's a battleaxe in time of war and a shelter in a time of storm"). In Black hands and hearts, Christian theology became an instrument of negro spirituality.

So, too, in many instances did the spirituals themselves. Spirituals sometimes provided comfort and eased the boredom of daily tasks, but above all, they were an expression of spiritual devotion and a yearning for freedom from bondage. In song, lyrics about the Exodus were a metaphor for freedom from enslavement. Songs like "Steal Away (to Jesus)", or "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" raised unexpectedly in a dusty field, or sung softly in the dark of night, signalled that the coast was clear and the time to escape had come. The River Jordan became the Ohio River, or the Mississippi, or another body of water that had to be crossed on the journey to freedom. “Wade in the Water” contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to freedom. Leaving dry land and taking to the water was a common strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one's trail. “The Gospel Train”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” all contained veiled references to the Underground Railroad, and Follow the Drinking Gourd contained a coded map to the Underground Railroad. The title itself was an Africanized reference to the Big Dipper, which pointed the way to the North Star and freedom.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is one of the best known spirituals:
(Refrain) Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home. I looked over Jordan, and what did I see? Coming for to carry me home, A band of angels coming after me, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) If you get there before I do, Coming for to carry me home, Tell all my friends I’m coming, too. Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) I’m sometimes up and sometimes down, Coming for to carry me home, But still my soul feels heavenly bound, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) The brightest day that I can say, Coming for to carry me home, When Jesus washed my sins away, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) - Traditional In the 1850s, Reverend Alexander Reid, superintendent of the Spencer Academy in the old Choctaw Nation, hired some enslaved Africans from the Indians for some work around the school. He heard two of them, "Uncle Wallace" and "Aunt Minerva" Willis, singing religious songs they had composed. Among these songs were Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Steal Away to Jesus, The Angels are Coming, I'm a Rolling, and Roll Jordan Roll. Later, Reid, who left Indian Territory at the beginning of the Civil War, attended a musical program put on by a group of Negro singers from Fisk University. Although they were singing mostly popular music of the day, Reid thought the songs he remembered from his time in the Choctaw Nation would be appropriate. He and his wife transcribed the songs of the Willises as they remembered them and sent them to Fisk University. The Jubilee Singers put on their first performance singing the old captive's songs at a religious conference in 1871. The songs were first published in 1872 in a book titled Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, by Thomas F. Steward. Later these religious songs became known as "Negro spirituals" to distinguish this music from the spiritual music of other peoples. Wallace Willis died in 1883 or 84.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers.

A New York Times bestselling author, her books have helped millions of people find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ.Suffering sexual abuse as a child and the pain of an emotionally abusive first marriage, Joyce discovered the freedom to live victoriously by applying God's Word to her life and in turn desires to help others do the same. From her battle with breast cancer to the struggles of everyday life, she speaks openly and practically about her experiences so others can apply what she has learned to their lives.Over the years, God has provided Joyce with many opportunities to share her testimony and the life-changing message of the Gospel. Recently, Time magazine selected her as one of the most influential evangelical leaders in America.

She is an incredible testimony of the dynamic, redeeming work of Jesus Christ. She believes and teaches that regardless of a person's background or past mistakes, God has a place for them and can help them on their path to enjoying everyday life.Joyce and her husband, Dave, have been married for over forty years, and they are the parents of four grown children. Dave and Joyce Meyer make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.TeachingDuring Joyce Meyer's public speaking engagements, she frequently talks about overcoming obstacles and finding strength to deal with difficult circumstances. She shares her views on how to deal with everyday life situations, often drawing on her own experiences.

She was sexually abused as a child by her father, and experienced a failed marriage. She has been married to her current husband for over 30 years. Joyce speaks candidly and with a sense of humor, sharing with her audience her own shortcomings and taking playful jabs at stereotypical church behavior.

What is the meaning of life?

This is a question many people ask themselves at some point during their lives, most in the context "What is the purpose of life?" Here are some of the many potential answers to this perplexing question. The responses are shown to overlap in many ways but may be grouped into the following categories:


Christian mythology includes interpretations of the core beliefs of Christianity

Christian mythology includes interpretations of the core beliefs of Christianity, the body of legendary stories that have accumulated around Old and New Testament figures and elaborates upon the lives of the saints, to emphasize, explain, or embody Christian beliefs. The legendary details of the career of the disciple Peter and his founding the Christian Church is a prime example of Christian mythology (i.e., symbolically Peter was known as the "corner stone" and "rock" on which the church was built.) Many of the common themes in hagiographies are among the conventions of Christian mythography.

In the culture of the ancient Semitic and Mediterranean worlds in the context of which early Christianity and its literature arose — even up to the European Middle Ages when further traditions and legends were developed — there often did not exist the separation that exists for many societies in the modern period between fact and myth or between objective truth and speculation or elaboration. Even in the modern period, Christians of many traditions (like those in many other religions) may also hold that the dividing line between "faith" and what is labeled "myth" is less than clear, when it comes to traditional beliefs and understanding.Traditional Christian stories include many that do not come from canonical Christian texts and still do illustrate Christian themes.

Other stories that are intended to foster Christian values, or address specifically Christian spiritual traditions, may be included in Christian mythology. These stories are considered by some Christian journalists, theologians, and academics (see citations below) to constitute a body of Christian mythology. Stories that were once taken as true but are no longer accepted by most Christians are most easily identified as Christian mythology, such as the tale of Saint George or Saint Valentine.

Mythology in secular Christmas stories

Christmas-themed popular music, television, and cinema:The concept of Santa Claus is often seen as a secular saint who has supernatural powers and uses them to magnanimously deliver gifts to children around the world. This idea is based on a folk tradition of Saint Nicholas but was given an amplified mythological identity in the Clement Moore poem Twas The Night Before Christmas.In the 1950s, several Christmas cartoons emerged that deliberately adopt elements of Christian stories to convey the "true meaning of Christmas" in allegorical terms.An early film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special) based on a Gene Autry song, involved a rejected and mocked reindeer that ends up leading the other reindeer through the help of a misfit elf and misfit toys.

Similarly, Frosty the Snowman contains several Christian motifs, is the story of a snowman who comes to life for a time, melts (dies) but also reassures his childlike followers that he will "be back again some day." The television special developed from this song invents the concept of Frosty being made from "Christmas snow" which entails that he can never completely melt away and thus has an eternal essence.Following these early television Christmas specials, there have been countless other Christmas TV specials and movies produced for the "holiday season" that are not explicitly Christian but seek to describe "true spirit of Christmas" beliefs, such as "togetherness," "being with family," charitable acts, and belief that even bad people or situations can be redeemed.

While many sundry examples of Christmas films exist, examples of films with Christian mythical elements include: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (film), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and various adaptations of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. With the exception of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which features a reading from the Gospels by Linus, they have little to do with the biblical Christmas.These conceptions of the "true meaning of Christmas" are also sung about in Christmas albums that may have nothing to do with Christianity

Why We Shouldn't Worry

by: Daniel N. brown

Do you worry? Are you concerned about your future to the point where it steals your joy? Jesus said in Matthew 6:25, “Take no thought for your life.”
That seems simple enough, but for some reason we don’t get it. We think we have to run our own lives and make things happen. If something isn’t going right we think we have to fix it. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to make something happen that is never meant to happen.

I’ve heard it said that if you try to teach a pig to sing, it will frustrate you and irritate the pig. If that pig is meant to sing God will lead him to sing without your help.
Sometimes, we are to just take our hands off of things and let God take care of it. Let Him do what only He can do and not worry about the outcome. Believe that He has your best interest in mind for He has a wonderful plan for each believer (Jeremiah 29:11).
God wants to govern our lives. When we become saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and wants full control. We must die to the flesh and give Him that control or else we will be fighting against Him. James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Read Mathew 6:19-34 where Jesus is saying, “Take no thought for your life.” Ask God to make it alive to you so that you can fully grasp this portion of Scripture. We are meant to be free of stress, reasoning, worry and everything else that can weigh us down. And, taking on too much care for our own lives certainly will weigh us down.
God is our Heavenly Father who cares for us. So, we don’t have to worry, struggle to figure everything out, or even try to make things happen. God wants us to dwell in His "secret place" and abide under His shadow (Psalm 91:1) as we cast all of our care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
The bottom line is: Take no thought for your life (Matthew 6:25), be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6) , and be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), for He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him, because he trusts in Him” (Isaiah 26:3).

About The Author
Daniel N. Brown is an entrepreneur and teacher of biblical success principles. Get his FREE report, "Christian Prosperity Secrets" when you sign up for his FREE weekly newsletter. http://www.SecretPlaceOnline.com

Salvation - Comparing Islam and Christianity

by: Clyde Annach

and Christians (followers of Christianity), view Salvation and its
The doctrine of Salvation or Soteriology is our focus for this comparative study. More specifically how Muslims (followers of Islam) inherent requirements. The word Salvation can have many different definitions to various people and religions. The definition for salvation we will be using comes from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition ; 1. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. 2. Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. In plain English, we will define salvation as what it takes to get into Heaven or Paradise. We will investigate the following questions. 1. What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation? 2. How is salvation gained by an individual? The Koranic quotations are taken from by Abdullah Yusufali's translation titled The Meanings Of The Holy Qu'ran unless otherwise noted.

The Biblical texts will be from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, again unless noted otherwise. By examining what both the Qu'ran and the Bible have to say on the topic of salvation we find that both use the word Grace to describe a mechanism of God's gift of Salvation. Qu'ran Surah 8:29 O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded. Bible Deuteronomy 7:9 Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands. Grace shall be defined as the following: 1. a special favor 2. the prerogative of mercy exercised (as by a chief executive) or granted in the form of equitable relief Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc. Grace is a therefore receiving something we did not deserve or earn through our own actions. Islam and Christianity diverge however on our need for salvation based on their understanding of Sin. Christianity teaches that all men and women are born in a fallen state and thus have no hope of the righteousness demanded by God. The Doctrine of Original Sin states that Adam by his conscious description to disobey God ushered death into the world. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12 [The effects of this first sin were] (1) "shame, a sense of degradation and pollution; (2) dread of the displeasure of God, or a sense of guilt, and the consequent desire to hide from his presence. These effects were unavoidable. They prove the loss not only of innocence but of original righteousness, and, with it, of the favour and fellowship of God. The state therefore to which Adam was reduced by his disobedience, so far as his subjective condition is concerned, was analogous to that of the fallen angels. He was entirely and absolutely ruined" (Hodge's Theology).

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 Men and women don't just have a sin nature, they are conceived with a sin nature! Indeed, I was guilty [when I] was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5 Thus the Biblical understanding of Sin, and our need for Salvation is one of desperation. Salvation is a condition that man can not resolve on his own. As evidenced by Jesus' reply to his astonished Disciples after His rebuke of the rich young man as recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels. Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:26-27 The Qu'ran like the Bible, states that Adam sinned by disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve admitted there sin and begged forgiveness. Allah forgave them, but also punished them with a mortal existence on Earth. They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost." ((Allah)) said: "Get ye down. With enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood,- for a time." He said: "Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die; but from it shall ye be taken out (at last)." Surah 7:23-25 Islamic Theologians teach that the nature of man is basically good, but prone to following this own will and not the will of Allah. Qu'ran Surah 12:53 "Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful." M.S. Laher in A Living Faith Published by I.M.S states “regarding the Islamic understanding of the nature of man As made by God, man is innocent, pure, true and free. He is not sinful by nature.

He is born free from any so called "Original Sin," By nature he inclines to do righteous deeds. He is given true understanding about his own position in the universe and about God's goodness, wisdom and power. That is man's true self - just as it is the nature of the lamb to be gentle and of the horse to be swift. But man is caught in the web of customs, superstitions, selfish desires and false teachings. These make him unclean, false, slavish, greedy, lustful and selfish. It is these that make him have strong desires for things that are wrong and forbidden. Man is diverted from the love of his fellowman, and the pure worship of the One True God. The problem is to cure this crookedness and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of God.” The Christian view of Sin is that due to Adam's sin all men are born with the propensity to sin. The Islamic view of Adam's sin is of a personal nature, what Adam did is not applicable to anyone but Adam. That our sin is personal and men have the ability to not sin and thus follow Allah's will. The first step, which until now had been unspoken and that is Faith. What are the requirements of “Faith”? The Muslim to be must first express his faith in Allah and his prophet Muhammad. The convert needs to make a declaration, known as la-shahaadatain. This declaration of faith has two parts one swearing fealty to Allah and the acknowledges his messenger Muhammad.

The Arabic transliteration is as follows; 1. Ash-hadu alla ilaaha illallah 2. Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-rasool ullaah The English translation would be : 1. I bear witness and attest that there is no god worthy of worship but the One God Allah 2. I bear witness and attest that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah For the Muslim this is the required first step. The Christian is called to an expression of faith in a similar fashion; Romans 10:9 states “If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” John 1:12 further states “but to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,” Paraphrasing the two verses they say, believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord and Saviour makes you a child of God. The words used are far less important than the sentiment expressed. The Bible teaches that Christians are saved out of the loving kindness of God's good grace, nothing else is required. But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses.

By grace you are saved! Ephesians 2:4-5 The Qu'ran actually has three additional criteria that must be met, these are 1. deeds 2. leading each other to the truth 3. leading each other to patience. All of these are expressed in the 103:1-3. We will discuss only one of these requirements for brevity's sake and that will be deeds. Qu'ran Surah 103:1-3 By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy. At puberty a ledger of good and bad deeds starts accumulating. This ledger of deeds is used by God to judge the persons fate. Islam teaches that our good deeds can position us to receive mercy, and thus admission to Paradise. The Muslim can never know which side of the scale is holding the heavier balance. That of his good deeds possibly leading to Paradise or that of his evil deeds pointing to Hell. Qu'ran Surah 23:101-103 Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy,- they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide. With no assurance they have done enough good to earn their way into Paradise,outside of martyrdom, Islamic concept of grace is more a reward than a gift. The Christian can take solace in the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as recorded in John 5:24 "I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. The Greek word translated as “has” is echo (ekh'-o) and means to have, to own and to possess. Christ tells us we can be assured we are His. In Christianity the Child of God HAS everlasting life. To summarize the questions we set out to answer; 1.What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation?

The Muslims need for a Saviour is non-existent due to the ability of each individual to choose to not sin. Islam teaches that humans are generally good by nature. Thus Salvation is a foreign concept in Islamic teachings. The Christian teaching of Sin and are the need for an unblemished, right before God sacrifice, dictate the need for a Savior. 2.How is salvation gained by an individual? The Muslim must have faith in Allah, do more good than bad, teach each other truth and patience. The Christian must make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives.

About The Author
Clyde Annach is the operator of uhho, Clyde's been thinking again! Web log.Please feel free to write me at clydesblogs@gmail.com or visit my Web Log at http://uhho-clydes-thinking-again.blogspot.com/.

Are All The Dead Christians In Heaven?

by: Debra Lohrere

It has long been taught that when a Christian dies they go straight to heaven. Is this what the Bible teaches or have paganistic doctrines and myths crept unbeknown into our Christian faith? What did Jesus say about his friend Lazarus who had died? John 11:11-14 “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead”. Jesus clearly showed us that the dead sleep. If Lazarus had gone to heaven Jesus would have said that he was in heaven with the Father. Also, after Jesus raised Lazarus, did anyone ask Lazarus “What was it like in heaven? Tell us about it”.

No one did, because it was the belief of the day that when someone died they slept until the resurrection on the last day. This is further clarified in Psalms where we are told that when we die our thoughts perish Psalms 146:4 “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish”. We are also told that we will not rise again until the heavens are no more (when Jesus returns) Job 14:12 “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep”.

Paul reinforced this understanding 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”: Many Christians believe that when they die they go directly to heaven, even though the day of judgment has not even occurred yet. They visualize themselves in heaven with the angels praising God. But what does the Bible say? Psalms 115:17 “The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence”. It is clear that the Bible writers all believed that the state of the dead is like sleeping, to be awakened the moment after they closed their eyes at the final trumpet at the coming of Jesus on the day of redemption. 1 Corinthians 15:52 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”. Job made it clear that we return to dust and are no more until the resurrection Job 7:21 “And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be”.

There are many deceptions of Satan going on in these end times and spiritism is on the increase. If people realized that the dead are all asleep and can’t communicate with us, then they would start to question who exactly it is that they are communicating with. There are many deceptive demonic spirits in the invisible world around us, who take every opportunity they can to lead people astray. It is time that we recognized that when mediums are speaking to the ‘other side’ it is actually the evil angels that they are talking to and not dead beloved relatives. How can we help those who have been tricked by these deceptive spirits, if we don’t demonstrate to people from a Biblical perspective that the dead are asleep and have no thoughts, so it can’t be them doing the communicating? All Bible references are from the King James Version.

About The Author
Debra Lohrere is the author of Christian Prophecy and Investment books http://www.investmentpropertybooks.com/christianbooks.html For more information on this topic please visit http://www.thetruthaboutdeath.org/

Can Christians Bear the Weight of the Wait

by: Rev Michael Bresciani

To some believers the second coming of Christ seems delayed perhaps even late. The worldwide turbulence among nations and the insanity of today’s fast paced world is enough to cause even the strongest person to doubt. How can we deal with this? In a recent online conference meeting I was asked to speak to a group of Christian women. I chose as my subject the four reasons we don’t study the doctrine of the second coming of Christ very seriously or extensively. The reasons are rather simple and have a great deal to do with human nature. The same reasons can apply to both the lack of study in the believer and the lack belief found among people in general. Briefly stated they are as follows. 1. It seems too complicated and hard to comprehend. It can be difficult and that being so the answer is to get a little help. It behooves the serious student to stay close to the certified and qualified teachers on the subject.

That does not always mean you will agree with them in every detail and they will not agree with each other in all aspects of this powerful portion of Gods word. That is not anything to worry about because some things on this subject require patience and timing. Remember some of the 167 Messianic prophecies (first coming of Christ) were still being debated in part even as Christ walked on the streets of Israel. For example, the scribes and Pharisees could not reconcile the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem when the scripture clearly said Messiah would hail from Nazareth. Jesus family home was in Nazareth and he had to be born in Bethlehem because of an edict concerning taxation. The only irreconcilability in the matter was the refusal of people to give up a mindset. Terms like Biblical scholar and eschatology make people nervous and although they may at times be quite helpful remember the real teacher (the Holy Spirit) abides within the believer. Trust the God who gave the prophecy to give you its meaning as well. If you are going to study others views be careful. The internet is filled with the ranting of dozens of second coming kooks, buffs and wannabes.

Stick close to the certifiable ministers like Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and Jack Van Impe just to name a few. They may not agree in every point so just remember that we all know how to spit out the bones when we are eating a good piece of fish. 2. The second reason that some believers shy away from serious study of the last days is because they are hiding. I have trouble being gentle here because it is often the scripture itself that they are hiding behind. They quote Mark 13:32,”But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” This is their excuse to leave off the study of second coming even though it comprises almost one quarter of the entire Bible. Christ admonished believers to “be ready” for the second coming. Mt 24:44 He also warned that we could know the “season” and the “generation” even if we can not know the exact hour or the day. In the plainest language possible, no part of scripture is telling you not to study another part of scripture. 3. A third and powerful reason Christians ignore the important study of Christ’s second coming is the common fear of embarrassment.

We all know that there have been some who have named dates for the second coming. When those dates came and went everyone is a bit shaken. We try to distance ourselves from those who make this mistake and this is easy to understand. The remedy for this is not to associate with those who name dates. No association with them means you will never have to go through the messy business of disassociating with them. We get flushed and embarrassed when we see a guy down on the streets with a placard or sign strapped to his body that says “the end of the world is at hand.” Remember it isn’t how we get the message out that needs to be questioned but that we get it out at all. Tread lightly before judging the methods used by anyone. Think of John the Baptist, a man who Jesus exclaimed was “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” Mt 11:11 John the Baptist was a man who wandered the wilderness clothed in camel hair like a common cave dweller.

He ate bugs and wild honey for his subsistence and undoubtedly was often found unwashed and disheveled. He called for people to cut out their sinning and he proclaimed the coming of the Savior of the world. The guy down on the streets of Cleveland or Los Angeles probably looks good by comparison. 4. The fourth reason Christians shrug off a serious study of last days is similar to the excuse unbelievers use not to believe in God at all. The lack of close proximity to the events of Christ’s first coming and the promise of his second coming makes people doubt that it will happen anytime soon or at all. That attitude is one of the very signs that it is near. Check it out. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 2Peter 3:3-4 Don’t worry he will get here. If you were well versed on second coming doctrine you would be far surer of that. In fact if you couldn’t see that we are approaching the last generation it would testify to the fact that either you are asleep or you have studied no part of this wonderful doctrine at all. In summary it must be noted that almost all unbelief and ignorance of the second coming doctrine is due to common and trivial matters of everyday life. Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Mt 24:37-39 The world is to busy too believe and the Christian is too busy to see the signs of the times but the event is too sure to be disregarded.

We install elaborate intrusion and burglar detection devices on our homes because we know that when we least expect it someone can break in and wreak havoc. We arrange for our children’s college funds when their still in grammar school. We insure our aged so we can be ready to give them dignified burials. We buy health insurance to be ready for some catastrophic health problem. But alas, we do little or nothing to prepare ourselves and warn others of an event that will change our world and everything in it forever. We would rather take a chance that makes not wearing a safety belt look like forgetting to buy a stick of butter. It is little wonder that when Christ described the general condition of the world at the time of his second coming he said simply, “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” Luke 12:39

About The Author
Rev Michael Bresciani is the author of two Christian books. His articles on the second coming of Christ, faith, politics and the American way of life are read in every country throughout the world. Come visit http://www.americanprophet.org/.

Sectarianism may, in the abstract, be characterized by dogmatism and inflexibility

Sectarianism refers (usually pejoratively) to a rigid adherence to a particular sect or party or religious denomination. It often implies discrimination, denunciation, or violence against those outside the sect. The term is most often used to refer to religious sectarianism, involving conflict between members of different religions or denominations of the same religion. It is also frequently used to refer to political sectarianism, generally on the part of a tight-knit political faction or party.
Sectarianism may, in the abstract, be characterized by dogmatism and inflexibility; sentimental or axiomatic adherence to an idea, belief or tradition; and idealism that provides a sense of continuity, orientation, and certainty. As a pejorative term, accusations of sectarianism may sometimes be used to demonize an opposing group.

The ideological underpinnings of attitudes and behaviours labelled as sectarian are extraordinarily varied. Members of a religious group may feel that their own salvation requires aggressively seeking converts from other groups; adherents of a given faction may believe that for the achievement of their own political or religious project their opponents must be purged. Sometimes a group feeling itself to be under economic or political pressure will attack members of another group thought to be responsible for its own decline. At other times, sectarianism may be the expression of a group's nationalistic or cultural ambitions, or cynically exploited to serve an individual demagogue's ambition.
In all cases, there is a real or felt opposition between 'Us' and 'Them', between insiders and outsiders. Sectarianism may take the form of hatred and fear of an outside sect or group. In such cases, sectarianism does not require a strong sense of religious belief, as much as a sense of group belonging.

A sectarian conflict usually refers to violent conflict along religious and political lines such as the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. It may also refer to general philosophical or political conflict between different schools of thought such as that between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Non-sectarians espouse that free association and tolerance of different beliefs are the cornerstone to successful peaceful human interaction.
In the United States, the word sectarian is also traditionally used non-pejoratively to describe institutions of higher education - colleges and universities - affiliated with religions or religious denominations, in comparison to institutions not so affiliated.

Define spiritual christian maturity

Define spiritual christian maturity , who is spiritually mature will have true Christian consciousness in life, possessing the very heart of the elements needed to incorporate view, thought, and action towards one's community and surroundings. Christian Maturity represents the grid through which every area of life and consciousness references, and reaches far beyond the confines of what happens on a Sunday morning, or things normally considered to be of a religious nature. There is no area of life capable of evading the Christian framework. For those with understanding the very essence of life itself is found in the elements that make one mature.

Given this weight we might think little ignorance would exist on our subject. Queries concerning the length of time required to become mature will elicit broad ignorance. Most Christians consider maturity elusive, requiring a life-time, or even unattainable. Occasionally a sense exists that if one truly becomes mature God will translate them to Heaven like Enoch. Others will speak as though the amount of time they have been a Christian automatically gives them preference to the claim. All have relatively no idea about the specifics of where to begin, how to proceed, or what is necessary to consider themselves qualified. Those who are ignorant of spiritual maturity unknowingly are in admission that mediocre Christianity is the norm for their lives.

Define A biblical discussion of Spiritual Christian Maturity takes place in Hebrews.
"Anyone who lives on (spiritual) milk is still an infant, and not acquainted with teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." Hebrews 5:13-6:2 (emphasis added).

This passage states that to qualify for Maturity a person must have 1) a workable knowledge of the elementary aspects of Christianity, and, 2) be continuously using that knowledge to evaluate and differentiate between values in life; the exercise of thinking choosing the good and rejecting evil. The first half of our definition involves the assimilation of knowledge about truth as represented in God, while the latter half pertains to the practice of that truth through lifestyle to lead a productive life for the purposes of God.

One other factor exists in the determination of when a believer becomes mature: time. The writer is chastening his audience for not reaching maturity in an appropriate term. Time does not directly alter our definition, but make a mental note that maturity is not derived instantaneously or automatically. The duration to maturity is variable depending on a person's development in the other two areas.