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Re: Onam Celebrations in Church - Cdr Comments

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  • Eldho Joseph
    Dear All, Noted the comments of Cdr. Ninan P Mathai on the subject. Rev. K K John Achen has beautifully explained with the support of Holy Scriptures why the
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 31, 2013
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      Dear All,

      Noted the comments of Cdr. Ninan P Mathai on the subject. Rev. K K John Achen has beautifully explained with the support of Holy Scriptures why the Orthodox should refrain from detestable practices and affirmed that certain practices in the Church, that the ‘onam celebration advocates’ (o.c.a) argues as local traditions, are not so but scriptural. Achen’s postings personally consoled me as it answered so many questions asked by the o.c.a. Some people are still ‘do not see though they have eyes, do not hear though they have ears and never understand things’ (Mk. 8: 18). They will keep on arguing without knowing what they do. I was thinking not to respond to any comments on the subject, but once again I want to write in response to Cdr. Ninan P Mathai’s arguments. I may comment point by point.
      1. The Trinity concept of Christianity is not borrowed from anywhere else as Cdr Ninan P Mathai argues. It was there from the very beginning. Gen. 3:15 and Gen. 6:3 very clearly reveal the three persons in Godhead. Now let us examine how this Trinitarian concept entered in pre-Abrahamic era and paganism. The tri-god concept was there in Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, Roman and Israeli pagan religions, viz. Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammuz, Osiris-Isis-Horus, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, Zeus-Athena-Apollo, Jupiter-Mercury-Venus and Kether-Chokmah-Binah respectively. How this concept was crept in all these known civilizations? Any reader will have a doubt how this happened at that time in different parts of the world. This study is interesting.
      Nimrod, a mighty warrior, mentioned here is a Bible character (Gen. 10: 6-14), the fourth generation of Noah in the line of Ham. Noah was a grandson of Enoch who walked with God (Gen. 5:24). According to Book of Enoch (a deutero-canonical book, but canonized by the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches and referred by Jude in his Epistle, Jude 1: 14-15), he many times did visit heaven, mingled with angels (even once he was an emissary to God on behalf of the fallen angels), walked with God, knew the secrets of heaven to certain extent. In such a situation he might have known the secrets of Trinity also and this knowledge would have been passed to his sons and grandsons, to Noah, to Ham, to Cush and to Nimrod. Anyway, people knew the Trinitarian character of God, may not be in the right way as Enoch understood. When Nimrod was killed, to keep their control over the people, Semiramis, his wife, conceived from a priest and announced that her foetus was the re-incarnation of Nimrod. She also proclaimed that Nimrod was a god, she a goddess and her son another god – tri-god. She was exploiting the inane knowledge of people about the Trinity. Thus the tri-god concept was accepted by the people of Nimrodian era. When people scattered during the time of Babel Tower construction, they had the idea of tri-god and that is how all the known civilizations made their own tri-gods and started worshipping them. But originally it is a biblical, not pagan concept, though it was not explicitly mentioned; pagans have just borrowed this dogma from the Scriptures only.
      2. It is very funny to note that the Orthodox Church to celebrate Hindu mythological festivals in their churches, since Cdr Ninan P Mathai asked for off-white colour Kutty mundu from his father. That is his personal business. What the Orthodox Church has to do with it? We are discussing about the ‘Celebration of Onam in Orthodox Churches’. If a person baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and, knowing this fact, goes back to the old detestable practices only God can help him. It is something like Proverbs says: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Prov. 26:11).
      3. Cdr Ninan P Mathai says that since his grandfather took him for Kettukazhcha to a temple and his grandfather and his predecessors were observing Raahukaalam, Orthodox Church has to celebrate onam in their churches. Why Cdr stopped at his grandfather? He could have gone further back where we can see the ancestors practicing idolatry, witchcraft etc. Do we have to go back and practice all that abandoned centuries ago? Any remnant of these vile practices is to be left out.
      4. Boat race is there everywhere in the world, even it is a game in Olympics. How then we can say that it has Hindu origin? It is a sport, nothing religious. Please remember some of the disciples of Jesus Christ were very good oarsmen.
      5. The point is very valid. Cdr Ninan does not know whether his ‘vidyaarambham’ was on vijayadasmi day or not. Good! But now the priests ask the parish members to bring their kids for ‘vidyaarambham’ on vijayadasmi day. Even decorated boards are exhibited and notices, bulletins etc. are issued. This passes a wrong message (if vidyaarambham is done on this day, the scholastic level of the kid would increase) to the ordinary faithful. Earlier this practice was not there in the Church and in those days nobody was so keen to start the education on vijayadasmi day.
      6. Kadamattathu Kathanaar is just a fictional character; there is no historical support. Even if he was real and practicing black magic, shall we follow him? Is black magic permitted in the Church?
      7. No one can serve both God and mammon (Mt. 6: 24), so no one can serve God and Vaamana or Maaveli. The cleansing in the Church is nothing to do with ‘born agains’. If that is the case, all the o.c.a in Church were ‘born agains’ some 10-12 years ago (there was no such celebrations in the Church at that time). If Cdr Ninan calls the people who stand for real orthodoxy as ‘Christian Taalibaans’, what shall John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and His disciples be called? They were the first who spoke against the hypocrisy in their community.
      8. What does it mean ‘second and third generation Mallu Christians’? Whatever it is Christianity (Christ) is same for yesterday today and forever (Heb. 13:8).
      9. Let the Church support local traditions, but it shall not be unscriptural.
      Unless the Church Leaders take initiative, all paganisms will creep in and the real faith will be lost in short time. We shall not forget the fact that many of the churches in Europe and Singapore are converted to Liquor Shops and Bar. If we invite all worldly celebrations to the Church, it is not too far the churches will have all the entertainments of Macau Island.
      Dr. Eldho Joseph
      St. Dionysius Orthodox Church
      Al Ain, UAE.

    • Ninan Mathai
      Dear Dr Eldho Joseph, 1. I am glad that my ramblings drew at least one response. Usually, it does not get any at all! 2. I am a layman who was fortunate enough
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 4, 2013
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        Dear Dr Eldho Joseph,
        1. I am glad that my ramblings drew at least one response. Usually, it does not get any at all!
        2. I am a layman who was fortunate enough to be born into an Orthodox Syrian Christian family in Kerala. As was common in those days, I had my Sunday School education, however only till Class 7 and then I shifted to a boarding school under Ministry of Defence where facilities did not exist for further Sunday School Education. With the advent of Internet, I am trying to learn further on all subjects, including Church History. Your response would benefit me and similarly placed brethren.
        3. The Old Testament, as is known to us, is a Jewish religious book which was accepted by the early Christians. As Jesus, the Christ, was born into a Jewish family and was brought up in a geographical area populated mainly by Jews (but ruled by the Roman Empire through Jewish Satraps like Herod), his friends were Jewish. His Disciples were Jewish. Thus, today we have Judeo-Christian Traditions. Thus, to refer to the Old Testament as a Christian document may not be technically correct.
        4. You had quoted two verses from Genesis to indicate that the Concept of Trinity is an old concept. However, not being a scholar, I had to refer to a hard copy the Old Testament which I reproduce below:
        a) 3:15 - I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite their heel.
        b) 6:3 - Then the Lord said, I will not let people live no longer than a hundred and twenty years.
        I do not see the three persons in the Godhead in these two verses. You may clarify.
        5. Further, I mentioned about my interactions with my grandfather only to record that practices related to Onam festival were followed by Christians of Kerala at least in mid 20th century. I am certain such practices were prevalent even earlier. I like to record that there was no church celebration of Onam in my younger days. Here is a case of the Christians following a 'pagan' practice and the Church never objected to it. When the Perunal Rasa from Puthiakavu Orthodox Church came in front of Puthiakavu Temple, it was received by the temple authorities. I am not aware of a reciprocal arrangement. However, I am told, in Changanacherry, a Catholic and Nair centre, the processions from the Catholic Church, Hindu Temple and the Muslim Mosque received each others in front of their respective places of worship and Money was gifted to the Procession. I think the practice is still on, despite the change in thinking. Can any of the Christian Talibans ever think of such cooperation?
        6. As to your point on boat races, Aranmula water festival is not an ordinary boat race as found in other parts of Kerala. It has a specific Hindu religious origin. You may study the origin on the internet.
        7. Regarding Vidyarambham, all Hindu children had initiation of leaning to coincide with Saraswathi Pooja, I am sure that there is no evidence to prove that Hindu Children had higher scholastic levels than the Christian & Muslim children in Kerala, but it is a practice, now adopted even by the Catholic Church. In my part of the world, brides and bridegrooms do a Guru Vandana, before departure to church for solemnising their wedding. In my case, my Guru was an Atheist with a Hindu name.
        8. Kadamattathu Kathanar, a Christian priest following black magic, might have been a person with no historical support. Neither is there any historical support to the arrival of St. Thomas, an Apostle of Jesus, the Christ, in Kodungallore in 52 AD and for him converting four Brahmin families, as Brahminism came to Kerala only in the 7th Century AD. Practices akin to Black Magic were also practiced by the good old Catholic Church, in Europe. Books have been written and films made on these themes. These showed that the Pope of those times supported it. Pracices of the Free Masons also had a religious tag attached. Please remember that we, all Christians of Kerala, were Catholics between the Synod at Udayamperoor and the Koonan Kurisu Oath and Nestorians before the Synod at Udayamperoor!!!
        9. Jesus Christ was killed for two reasons:
        a) The Jews wanted him killed as they felt that that Jesus said that he was God (ie Jehowah). He had never claimed to be God. His disciples felt he was the son of the Living God. The concept of Trinity was unknown to His disciples at that stage.
        b) Despite Pontius Pilate washing his hands off, I believe that the Romans wanted to nip a rebellion in the bud.
        I may also add that Christian thinkers felt that Jesus had to die and resurrect, as was prophesied by the Christ himself.
        10. Ones religious beliefs should not blind one's self. The population of Judea was mixed. They lived in peace and harmony. So also the people of Kerala. Being a Christian does not make one superior to ones neighbours. I know many non-Christians who live a Christian way of life of Love, Compassion and Charity than many of the Christians I know. So, I believe that on the Day of Judgement, these non-Christians would stand on the Right hand side, while many Christians would be on the other side.
        With Best Wishes,
        Cdr Ninan P Mathai IN (Retd)
      • Eldho Joseph
        Dear All,   Cdr Ninan P Mathai has raised some more queries and asked me to answer it; I also feel that it is my responsibility to clarify them. In this
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 11, 2013
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          Dear All,
          Cdr Ninan P Mathai has raised some more queries and asked me to answer it; I also feel that it is my responsibility to clarify them. In this regard, I re-iterate that we are discussing the subject ‘Onam Celebrations in Orthodox Churches’; other related subjects also can come in the way that needs to be clarified. Now, we may expand this subject to ‘Paganism in Orthodox Churches’. Paganism is any religion other than Judaism, Christianity or Islamism, that is, usually, non-Abrahamic religions. The question is ‘shall Orthodoxy accept pagan rituals and traditions including that of other Abrahamic religions like Judaism and Islamism’. I think no! Because, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2Cor. 5:17 - NIV).
          When talk about tradition, we have to see it in a wider angle. Traditions can be of different natures like religious, social, ethnic, local etc. and etc. For example, everywhere in the world, people greet each other when they meet. This may be identified as a social tradition. If somebody argues that this practice was there in India before the arrival of St. Thomas and therefore it is a Hindu (religious) tradition, we need not do extensive research to answer it. So any tradition of social nature is acceptable anywhere. But when it is related to religion and faith it has got different dimensions; then the doctrines of the religion will apply. This is what I was trying to explain. People are free to opt what they want. But when the community is slipping away from their doctrines, members have the right to respond, question, object etc.
          No Christian priests use the vestments of a Hindu poojari, during the celebration of rituals, as in Indian traditions. No Christian church is built with a ‘mad’baha’ alone, like the Hindu temple having ‘sreekovil’ only, as in Indian traditions (in Hindu temples the faithful are standing in an open place). No Christian church has a pool or pond to take bath before the worship that Hindu temple has - where is the tradition? Where is communal harmony? There are so many that could have been adopted. If for argument, it is agreed that onam is a tradition of Keralites (in the previous postings, I have given necessary evidences that it is not), there is no tradition of celebrating it in the churches and this practice is questioned in this platform. Even Hindus do not celebrate onam in temples except in Thrikkakkara temple, near Ernakulam or so. Then why the Orthodox priests are so keen in inviting Maaveli and Vaamana to the church? ““And now, you priests, this warning is for you.  If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me” (Malachi 2: 1-2).
          Now the queries of Cdr Ninan P Mathai:
          3. The Old Testament is divided into two parts with respect to epoch – the pre-Abrahamic and post-Abrahamic eras. The first part tells about the creation and development of mankind and the latter about the selection of Abraham and God’s chosen people – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve patriarchs and their history.
          Israel (Jacob) was the chosen people of God (Deut. 7:7) through whom the Messiah would be born (Gen. 49:10; Num. 24:17). God chose Israel not just to produce the Messiah; but He wanted them to be a nation of priests, prophets and missionaries to the world to teach them about God and the Messiah whom He would send (Roger Waite’s website, “Israel - A History Of God's Chosen People”, available at <http://www.rogerswebsite.com/articles/Israel-History.htm>). The OT talks mostly about God’s people and about the coming of Messiah. Therefore, by all means it is correct to refer OT as a Christian document. The early fathers knew about it and that is why they included OT books in the Bible Canon. All Christian denominations accept it. Without OT, there is no NT; OT is the shadow and NT is the manifestation of it (Col. 2:17).
          4a. Gen 3: 15 says: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (NIV). God said these words to the serpent. When we say offspring, it is from man; not from woman. Here the offspring is from woman. How is it possible, without a man? “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”” (Mt. 19: 26 – NIV). Since Adam and Eve were with God, they and the serpent knew what God told them and from then onwards both mankind and the serpent were looking for the ‘offspring of woman’ to come, the Son of God – the second person in the Holy Trinity.
          4b. Gen. 6: 3 says: “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”” (NIV. I do not know which Bible Cdr Ninan referred. I made a mistake by not mentioning the Bible version). Here Lord says about His Spirit; not about Him. The people of that time understood who is this ‘Spirit’ – the third person of Holy Trinity.
          5. Any pagan practices prevail in the Church that contradicts the Scriptures shall be abolished.
          6. Anything that related with paganism shall not be celebrated in the Church.
          7. I never opined that the Hindu children have high scholastic level; I said that such a feeling is created in the minds of parents. If not, why vidyaarambham is done on that particular day?
          8. There is historical support that St. Thomas came to India. But as Cdr Ninan said, I also do not know where this Brahmins came from in AD 52 (that is a different topic). Many rumours are spread regarding the authenticity of the arrival of St. Thomas in India. This is because there is no Indian historical books available of that time. But Dr. S Radhakrishnan, the former president of India and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had acknowledged the arrival of St. Thomas as a historical truth. Let us examine the testimony of some other historians.
          “He (St. Thomas) having preached the words of God to the Parthians, and the Medes, and the Persians, and the Indians, and having brought great multitudes to the faith of Christ …… by him baptized” (India and the Apostle Thomas: An Inquiry with a Critical Analysis of the Act A Thomae, A.E. Medlycott; David Nutt, 57-59, Long Acre: 1905, p. 66. {from the Library of Michigan University}). Bishop Medlycott refers to ‘The Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae’ by Hippolyte Delehaye to substantiate this point.
          He (St. Thomas) extended his labours through Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia, till he reached the borders of India. Here he first evangelised the coast of Malabar, where multitudes received the Faith. He then crossed over to that of Coromandel, and there pursued his labours with equal success. In Malabar, the churches of Angamala, afterwards metropolitical Cranganor, and Coulan, were more especially flourishing; in Coromandel, that of Meliapore, where the king and all his people believed. Hence it seems matter of certainty that the blessed Apostle passed eastward; but whether to China, or merely to Siam and Cochin China, is a question of more difficulty.” (A History Of The Holy Eastern Church: The patriarchate of Antioch, Rev. John Mason Neale, D.D; Rivingtons, London, Oxford & Cambridge, Printed at Cambridge University Press: {year unknown}, P. 6.)
           I hope the above evidences are sufficient. Free Masonry, Nestorianism, Catholicism etc has no relevance in our present day unorthodoxy that we are discussing now. Let us sort out the present issues and then go back to them.
          9. In point 2 Cdr Ninan feels fortunate since he was born in an Orthodox Syrian Christian family and in point 9 he says that the reasons for the death of Christ was merely political and ‘Christian thinkers felt that Jesus had to die ….. by the Christ himself’. Cdr still believes that Jesus died because ‘the Romans wanted to nip a rebellion in the bud’. This is the problem. If we believe that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, as Holy Bible says, all doubts will be cleared. An youngster who was away from home for theological studies returned home after long time. He told his grandma that the present Bible what they were using was a translation of English Bible which again translated from Hebrew, Greek etc. and there could be errors in the translation. The grandma said: "I already have a translation and that is enough for me". If we believe that the Bible is Word of God, why we go after social, political reasons etc?
          10. Please do not invite unwarranted points like peace, harmony etc and blame others on that grounds. In my previous postings, I have clearly stated that I am not a fundamentalist. Many of my good friends are Hindus and Muslims. I respect them and their character, behaviour etc; but not their theology. They also know it and accept it; we are in VERY GOOD harmony, we pay visits each other. I believe in personal harmony, but not in religious harmony that is an impracticable theory. How somebody can serve Christ and Krishna? Though there are similar teachings in various religions, the same amount of differences is also there. Faith is a personal matter. My belief in Jesus never stopped me in keeping good relations with people of other beliefs. All mankind is the creation of God. People like Cdr Ninan opine that unless there is onam celebration in church all harmony will be lost. But in my opinion, the harmony was strong when such celebration was not there. Because people are running after religious harmony, both religious and personal harmonies are lost. ‘Love your neighbour’ does not mean love his religion.
          Now, the right and left sides. If any Christian thinks that he would be at the right side and others at the left, it is just a folly only. But one thing is clear, “but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared." (Mk. 10: 40 – NIV).

          ഇനി മലയാളത്തില്‍ പറഞ്ഞാലേ തൃപ്തി വരൂ. അതുകൊണ്ട് മലയാളത്തിലാക്കുകയാണ്.

          ആവശ്യമില്ലാത്ത ആചാരങ്ങളും അനുഷ്ഠാനങ്ങളും ആഘോഷങ്ങളും പള്ളിയുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങളുടെ ഭാഗമാക്കി മാറ്റുന്ന എല്ലാവരും ഒരു കാര്യം അറിയുക - പള്ളി ആരാധനയ്ക്കുള്ള സ്ഥലമാണ്. മറ്റൊന്നിനും ഉപയോഗിക്കാനുള്ളതല്ല. (Is.56: 7, Mt. 21: 13). അത് കൂത്തുകളികള്‍ക്കുള്ളതല്ല. പള്ളിക്കു പുറത്താണെങ്കില്‍ പോലും പള്ളിയോ പട്ടക്കാരനോ അതിനെ പ്രോത്സാഹിപ്പിക്കാന്‍ പാടില്ല. പരുമല തിരുമേനിയും വട്ടശ്ശേരില്‍ തിരുമേനിയും 'ജീവിത സുഖങ്ങളെ വെടിഞ്ഞ് കര്‍ത്താവിനു വേണ്ടി ജീവിച്ചു' എന്നു പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കുകയും പ്രസംഗിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തിട്ട് അച്ചന്മാരും മെത്രാച്ചന്മാരും ആ ജീവിതങ്ങളെ എന്തുകൊണ്ട് കാണുന്നില്ല? ദൈവവേല ചെയ്യാന്‍ തീരുമാനിച്ചിറങ്ങിയവര്‍ അതു ചെയ്യട്ടെ. ഈ ലോകത്തില്‍ ജീവിക്കുന്നവര്‍ ഒട്ടും ലൗകീകരാവരുത് എന്നല്ല ഇതിന്‍റെ വിവക്ഷ. ഒരു പരിധി വിട്ട് അവര്‍ ലൗകീക കാര്യങ്ങളുടെ പിറകേ പോകരുത്.

          ഇവിടെ പ്രശ്നം അതല്ല. 'അപ്പന്‍റെ മടിയിലിരിക്കുകയും വേണം അമ്മയുടെ പാല്‍ കുടിക്കുകയും വേണം' എന്ന വാശിയാണ്. ക്രിസ്ത്യാനിയാണെന്നു പറഞ്ഞു നടക്കണം, ലോകത്തുള്ള സകല ആനന്ദാര്‍ഭാടാഘോഷങ്ങളിലും പങ്കെടുക്കുകയും വേണം. ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികളെല്ലാം നല്ലവരും സ്വര്‍ഗത്തില്‍ പോകുന്നവരും അല്ലാത്തവരെല്ലാം ചീത്തയും നരകത്തില്‍ പോകുന്നവരുമാണെന്നൊന്നും ഞാന്‍ പറയുകയില്ല. എന്നാല്‍ ഒരു കാര്യം അറിയുക. കൊര്‍ന്നല്യോസ് വളരെ നല്ല മനുഷ്യനായിരുന്നു, നീതിമാനായിരുന്നു, ദാനധര്‍മ്മങ്ങള്‍ ചെയ്യുന്നവനായിരുന്നു  എന്നാല്‍ പാപമോചനം പ്രാപിക്കാന്‍ അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്‍റെ നന്മ മാത്രം പോരായിരുന്നു, പരിശുദ്ധാത്മാവിനെ പ്രാപിക്കണമായിരുന്നു. (Acts പത്താമദ്ധ്യായം മുഴുവനും വായിച്ചു നോക്കുക).

          ഈ അവകാശം ലഭിച്ച ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികള്‍ എന്നു വിളിക്കപ്പെടുന്നവര്‍ ചില്ലറ ആഘോഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കു വേണ്ടി അതു വിറ്റുകളയുന്നത് അല്പം പായസത്തിനുവേണ്ടി ജ്യേഷ്ഠാവകാശം വിറ്റുകളഞ്ഞ ഏശാവിനെപ്പോലെയാണെന്നോര്‍ക്കുക.

          Tradition-ന്‍റെ കാര്യത്തിലായാലും harmony-യുടെ കാര്യത്തിലായാലും തങ്ങളുടെ വാദങ്ങള്‍ മുഴുവന്‍ ശരിയല്ല എന്ന് എല്ലാവര്‍ക്കുമറിയാം. എന്നാല്‍ പഴയ പാമ്പ് നിന്നു മാടി വിളിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ അതില്‍ വീണു പോവുന്നു. ആരെങ്കിലും ശരി ചൂണ്ടിക്കാണിച്ചാല്‍ അവനെ കല്ലെറിയാന്‍ പാമ്പ് ആവശ്യപ്പെടുന്നു. അല്പമെങ്കിലും വിശ്വാസം ഈ ലോകത്തു നിലനിര്‍ത്താന്‍ അവന്‍ സമ്മതിക്കുകയില്ല. കഴിയുമെങ്കില്‍ വൃതന്മാരേയും തെറ്റിക്കാന്‍ അവന്‍ ശ്രമിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കും (Mt. 24: 24).

          Dr. Eldho Joseph
          St. Dionysius Orthodox Church
          Al Ain, UAE.
        • Ninan Mathai
          Dear Dr Eldho Joseph, 1. Thank you for educating the less educated in matters of the Church. I am sure, there are so many others who are also benefiting from
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 15, 2013
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            Dear Dr Eldho Joseph,


            1. Thank you for educating the less educated in matters of the Church. I am sure, there are so many others who are also benefiting from these discourses.


            2. The move from Onam to 'Paganism in Orthodox Churches' is welcome. Wikipedia states that since the 20th century, Paganism (or Neo Paganism) has become the identifier for a collection of new religious movements attempting to continue, revive, or reconstruct historical pre-Abrahamic religion. It also equates 'Pagan' to Gentile, as used in the Old Testament and compares the word with 'infidel' and 'heretic'. I am also reminded of a book I read on the internet long back which considered Islam as a Christian heresy!!! I am not quite sure if Jews treated the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) as the 'Word of God (Jehowah)'. After having exposed to the procedure, at the Synod at Nicea, of selection of the books to be included in the New Testament, it may be apt to call the Bible as 'Word Inspired by God' rather than 'the Word of God'. By the way, I do not think the Sunday School curriculum today involves a chapter on the 'Origin' of the New Testament. This limits the Christian knowledge and thinking among the youth of our Church.


            3. By history, Jesus's disciples, who were Jews, spread the Word of God mainly among the Jewish co-religionists. It was only when St. Paul started his ministry, around 50 AD, that the Word of God was spread to 'Gentiles'. Thus, all our early practices as 'Christian' were Jewish practices, like exchanging of rings in weddings and burial of the dead. In spite of your vehement objections, I am of the view that Jewish (non Christian) practices were accepted whole-heartedly by the early Christians, both Orthodox and Catholics. Thus objections to non-Christian practices should be tempered with acceptance of local practices. The acceptance of Minnu in our weddings is such a practice. Minnu, or Thaali or Mangal Sutra, originated as a Hindu religious practice and was incorporated into our sacrament of matrimony. This practice is not prevalent in the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, whose traditions we follow. Nearer home, the Syro-Malabar Catholics (Syrian Catholics) have accepted and adopted the Persian Cross (they call it Malankara Cross), the symbol of the Persian Church, considered heretic.


            4. Regarding the arrival of St. Thomas, it is our tradition and belief. Thank you for providing the sources for proving that St. Thomas indeed came to Malankara. I had not seen these sources in any of the books on Church History I have read in English and Malayalam. These sources may be referred in the new books on our Church history, to be published and in the Sunday School curriculum.


            5. I also believe that man was evolved, as professed in the Theory of Evolution, as per the designs of our Living God. The story of Adam & Eve in the Genesis, is how the people in the earliest days in the present Middle East interpreted it. Civilisations around the globe have their own interpretations of these developments. I firmly believe that God, whether one calls Him/Her Allah, Paramathma, Jehovah etc, is the Lord of Universe, including mankind, and not only of the Christians. I quote Sri Narayana Guru - 'Whatever may be the Caste / Religion, it is essential for the Man to be Good'. Also 'One Religion, One caste, One God for the Man'.


            I trust this would provoke further discussions, not only from you, but also from other ICONIANS.

            With Prayers,

            Cdr Ninan P Mathai IN (Retd)


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