Saturday, September 24, 2011

The case for an open theology

words from John Robinson, a Puritan minister, admonishing Puritans about to leave Holland in 1620.

Excerpt taken from: A history of New England with particular reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists Volume 2 By Isaac Backus

“We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have an occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.” - Ellen G. White -
Review AND Herald
July 26, 1892

 MY CONCLUSION: the denominations that I attend regularly must not necessarily define my beliefs, but I must be eclectic in my approach for Truth, drawing beliefs from many Christian denominations and from Judaism.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just sharing my enriching experience

I depart from my usual blog entries to just express the warmth I am feeling.

It has been so lovely fellowship at London SDA Church for the past 3 Sabbaths this month.

Took the bus and arrived late, but I felt so pleased to be going to church and to be identified as a church goer. I was well dressed and felt like I was dressed like a Jew with my hat. Even met one of my professors on the way (who I am a Teaching Assistant for).  She asked me where I was going as I am so well dressed up. "Church" I replied, happy to declare that I am a believer and man of faith.

I had the feeling of David, when he said "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the L-RD."

It has been an awesome experience, as the love and fellowship that I have received from people who don't know me but want to help me is at time overwhelming.

It makes me glad that my parents brought me up in church, where I have known what it means to have people other than biological family & relatives love and care for me.

For those who don't go, you never know the value of having a community of people other than family and your immediate neighbours, to your happiness and well being.

I like the pastor, Alex Golovenko, who calls us into missions and into reaching out to persons from various nations.

Today he called for us to commit to:

1) pray for all the nations of the world (he will provide a list and country profile)
Emphasis of the prayer is that G-d will send or raise up more labourers into those nations

2) read the whole Bible challenge
the word is a sin repellant when committed to memory.

3) give sacrificially
stop trusting money and trust G-d.

4) meet other people from cultures different than my own and go out of my way to meet new people
Get out of my comfort zone and circle of friends and go meet people who I do not know in order to let them know what I know.

5) mentor a disciple

This call to ministry resonates well with my spirit. I pray that I can commit and be a part of this.

Location: London Seventh-day Adventist, 805 Shelborne Street, London, ON. N5Z 5C6

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Man shall not live by bread alone...

The Scripture is usually covered with layers of meaning to be discovered by the soul that is diligently searching it. Proverbs 2:4 declares that one must seek for G-d's words, knowledge that he has revealed and the understanding thereof as seeking for hidden treasure. This implies taking an active approach to Bible reading and study. Psalm 1:2 mentions that there is a blessing for the man that delights in the law of the Lord and in it meditates day and night. As a result, I am convinced that there is so much meaning and layers of interpretation to be derived from scriptures.

One such scripture that I appreciated more this week was verse 3 of Deuteronomy 8. It says (in King James Version):
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Today, making money is sometimes likened to making bread or getting/eating food (In Jamaica - it's 'eat a food'). In the chorus of a song by the hip-hop artiste Nelly, money is described as leading one to feeling good and satisfied (Nelly "Take a Ride with Me"). Today's philosophy is that money satisfies.

McIntyre describes the modern philosophy of leisure and pleasure seeking, otherwise known as hedonism

Pleasure is viewed as a feeling of contentment when various physiological or social needs and expectations are satisfied (e.g. the taste of food when hungry, TRAVEL to exotic destinations, sleeping when tired). Much leisure ACTIVITY is centred on seeking pleasure through amusement and ENTERTAINMENT, and significant energy, time and money is expended in pursuit of this goal. Hedonism is the belief that seeking pleasure is the prime goal of life. In modern times, this extreme pursuit of pleasure has come to be associated with the CONSUMER SOCIETY, which links commodity consumption to life satisfaction. However, it is argued that this quest is ultimately unsatisfying in that the ‘day-dreams of pleasure (as promised by consumption) are never matched by the reality of experience’ (Rojek 1995:114).
For humanity today, pleasure is the pursuit of money and profits. This also similar to how the term is used in Isaiah 58:13, a verse that has traditionally been used by Sabbath keepers to decide what not to do on Sabbaths. However, if read in context with the whole, starting with verse 3 which discusses that while Jews were fasting or attending their religious ceremonies and holidays/holy days, in their businesses, employees had no rest day and had to be working. In essence, while the Jews were taking the time out to seek G-d, they did not give their employees the opportunity to do so as well, but kept them on the job in order to increase profits and financial gain.

Man's pleasure is derived from his ability to make money for the purpose of consumerism. Or so the world feels.

But the Bible declares that consumerism (or the eating of bread) is not the only thing that satisfies. In fact consumerism alone cannot keep us alive and healthy. Our health, wellness and life comes not only from the drugs that we can purchase, the food, clothing, shelter, homes and other possession that we have. Jesus reiterated that in Luke 12:15 when he warned us to beware of greed and that a man's life does not consist of an abundance of things.

So while it is good to have possessions,  it is also important to take time to actively find out about G-d's revealed will for you and your life.

As such, the secret to a satisfying and fulfilling life is found in Joshua 1:8:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Money may answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19), but without G-d, it can not bring full joy and satisfaction. Ecclesiastes 5:12 reveals that the rich cannot sleep properly because they have too much. "All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled" (Ecclesiastes 6:7 KJV). However, if G-d's words proceed from our lips, and we actively study it and apply or practice it, then we shall be satisfied. Let our bread be that like what Jesus declared:

"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:34)


McIntyre, N. (2003) Enjoyment. In J. M. Jenkins & J. J. Pigram (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation. London: Routledge.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Bible, Immigration and Globalisation Part IV

It has been a while since my last entry, and now, my first time blogging from London, Ontario in Canada. I recently arrived to pursue PhD studies. As such, I have been taking in an entire new world and with it a new understanding of the familiar scriptures.

I now see the Bible as a book that immigrants can connect with. This for me provides a secondary explanation as to why the European American settlers were so devouted to the Christian or Jewish faith and the Bible. Apart from migrating for religious persecution, they were better able to connect with the patriarchs, all of whom were immigrants, with the promise of settling in a promised land. Which immigrant cannot connect with the experience of going into the unknown and being separated from family members and ties and the familiar, then going to a foreign land to face struggles alone and hoping that they had some familiarity around them. Even someone who knew them in a previous life to encourage them and help them adjust.

I am now in Canada, as an immigrant with the mission of studying Library and Information Science. Thanks to G-d for working all things out.

However, being alone, I can only remember Jacob, who left his family to migrate. Secondly, as this is my second night without a bed (I do have a “bed” of sorts, if you count my towels, sheets and plastic bags). This experience therefore helps me to connect with Jacob, who also had a bed of rocks (Genesis 28:11), which he later named Bethel (Genesis 28:18-19). How I hope that my house where I lay will be my Bethel.

Bethel was the place where Jacob met and encountered G-d. It is at Bethel that God reaveled to Jacob  divine purpose and the vision for his life (Genesis 28:11-14). It was also at Bethel that G-d made Jacob to know that G-d's presence was with him (Genesis 28:15).

This was important, because Jacob was to experience 14 years of hardship, for which G-d's revelation would be of comfort and good cheer. That revelation was perhaps the hope that Jacob clinged to in order to overcome the realities of his present hardships.

In fact, Jacob's experience of being physically separated from family members can only be paralleled to Joseph. I can also connect with the experience, being physically separated from wife and daughters and parents and siblings.

However, like Joseph's experience, I know G-d means it for good, and that by going ahead, I can prepare the way for spouse and children so that they can experience London Ontario in a more comfortable way than I have. In fact, I know not how my experiences in Canada, will in the future help my family: parents, siblings, spouse or children.

However, of one thing I am sure, that G-d has purpose for anyone who will be willing for him to use them. Any immigrant, regardless of the your occupation or status in life, can experience G-d's presence and revelation. This was demonstrated in the experience of Hagar, a maid/servant girl, who also had that experience.

Hagar, when ordered to migrate by her master and mistress (Genesis 21:14), now became a single mother immigrant with a boy child,  Abraham's son Ishmael. Despite the fact, she called upon Abraham's G-d, and cried out for her son and herself (Genesis 21:16), as she could not imagine how they were going to make it through life on their own in areas unknown. No familiarity, no one around to help them.

And G-d answered her (Genesis 21:17-19), thereby showing that he will help anyone who calls out for him and express their need. It is thereby reassuring that as an immigrant, that the G-d of the Bible is a G-d who helps immigrants.