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Retrieving lost sheeps

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  • Sajy Thannikkottu
    Dear All We have many people in our forum who share & teach us about our doctrines & keep us educated. Sometimes there will be some difference of opinion and
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 23, 2010
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      Dear All

      We have many people in our forum who share & teach us about our doctrines & keep us educated. Sometimes there will be some difference of opinion and we discuss both pros and cons and come to a conclusion. I think we are very lucky for all these kind of opportunities & facilities where we can share our ideas & thaughts instantly around the globe through internet. In olden days, during the time of Malpan's ( Gurukula Education), if there is some dispute or difference of opinion in faith they used to sit together and engage in long debate to decide the rights and wrongs. After the establishment of Seminaries and discontinuation of education under Malpan system we are no more having this kind of opportunities to engage in debate and decide the right and wrong and thus naturally belittled our emphasis on faith & limited teachings to commoners. As seminary education became a class room training for a couple of students, opportunity for commoners to be part of such debates and discussions became limited thorough which we lost many of our laymen to new generation churches. Moreover, these new generation churches created an environment of debate among them which generated of confidence of right even for wrong. As our people who never have gone through such debating environment of theological topic find themselves nothing to defend their faith and got attracted to this new faith. I hope currently platforms like SOCM-Forum are creating this debating platform to understand ones faith.

      Earlier, couple of times I have seen members of pentacostal church posting message against topics such as prayes for departed, etc in SOCM like forums to challenge Orthodox teachings and disappearing once they find it difficut to respond. How many of us, today, can confidently challenge pentacostal teaching in their group? I think time has come for us to challenge this wrong teaching of Pentacostal groups and retrieve our lost sheep.

      regards
      Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu
      2912
    • Sajy Jacob
      Below given is a communication between me and another person who joined Pentacostal group from Jacobite. This communication may be worth to publish in this
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 27, 2010
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        Below given is a communication between me and another person who joined Pentacostal group from Jacobite. This communication may be worth to publish in this forum

        regards
        Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu
        2912


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        OK Sajy....

        I was taught the version you say...in Sunday school...in Jacobite churches....the things to built unfailing loyality to the sabha....just like in the madrasas.......only I realized my real hero....Jesus Christ & his sound teachings for mankind......was put by them .....on the back burner......i realized this in class 7 at Sunday school & opted to drop out.....much to the agony of everyone around.... something told me it was all terribly wrong....

        yes..... u might stick with the koonan kruz satyam that is taught....but can u explain why the syrian christians never took to the biblical content of leading the non believers to Christ....their then reaction may be one based on traditions of their ancestors....justified to some extent......in the absence of the bible & sound doctrine...Sbut today with hindsight contained in the bible.....can u say what st Francis savior did to convert the masses of fishermen along the Kerala Konkan coasts was wrong......only the Syrian Christians were interested in their social status as derived from the Hindu caste systems....

        this is not scriptural....in hindsight when i see the schism in Syrian christian churches during the Portuguese times.....i can see that Syrian Christians were in much error....the bible is the word of god....for the christian faith....& not traditions borrowed from Jews or priesthoods from Aaronian & Levitus priesthoods...(read Hebrews 8 - this form of priesthood was abandoned by the new covenant) nor teachings borrowed from other idolatry religions & cults.....for personal gains, comforts & social status....

        as for history.... you seem to me....to be saying the history that is taught in Jacobite / orthodox christian churches....check out again....whether the Syrian Christians had a bible with the masses....i believe it became popular with the coming of the English reformists....& may have been introduced for the first time by the Portuguese....

        as far as Orthodox priests, bishops & others go....their spiritual leadership is there for all to see....rather than resolving issues between brothers by the spirit & word of god....they are more hungry to gain property & power....it is ugly even to the point that the dead are not buried in respect....without police escorts....their church processions are marked & made to go in opposing directions ....& their victory is in who drank most....& their satisfaction in who spit the most vulgar words to the other camp....all this when their is no real difference in their liturgies, beliefs, lineage or traditions.....

        a Balakrishnan or a Madhusoodan knows that the warring brothers should come to peace & terms with each other & he mediates for them....but the children of Christ does not know that....what have you to say....admitantly....they bring a gr8 name to the Lord....as ambassadors of Christ....don't they??? with newspapers & media having a field day reporting all the happenings ..... for the world to see.....& appreciate the chair & lineage of the apostles....

        i believe that in the sight of god....all men are equal to start with....well their are shepherds to lead the sheep.....in the right doctrine.....but apart from that..... claims of lineage to apostolic chairs etc are man made....the apostles will be judged....much alike the common man...& so will all the elect & the bishops & the priests.....matter of fact they may have much more to answer for......coz much was put under their trust....we shuld pray for them....rather than the dead.....

        for us....the least wud be to discern between the good & the bad....by the spirit & the word that the the lord provides us with....search out the truth....

        I cud go into more areas....but that wud only put you in a more hurting position....

        just a reality check....is attending the qurbana getting you any nearer to God....or is it just a matter of habit & rituals.....a chanting of mandras & slogans (maybe in foreign languages).....for the comfort.... man seeks in habits & religiousity....is it making you a better human being.....are you in touch with your spiritual sides....& is your life getting transformed in the process......

        since you are asking some right questions....i think....the lord is nor far.....he will reveal the truth to you....sooner or later....that is the encouragement....the silver lining....so take heart

        God bless all brothers

        Joji


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        Dear Joji

        Thank you for your response. I am not at all hurt as you guessed rather appreciate for sharing your stand.

        You have mixed many things together in your message.

        1. History

        2. Spirituality/ theology

        3. Church fight over property

        4. Episcopacy

        Let me attend them one by one:

        History: I pointed the error in your message not because I am member of one church or the other rather irrespective of our denomination history remains as history. Though Christianity reached India in AD 52 we really don't have many historical documents with us to describe about the christian life of that time. However, many historians already proved about the presence of 1st century Christianity in India. That means Christianity reached India even before it reached American and Europian Countries. Contrary to this many people in India as well as western countries believe that it was westerners who brought Christianity in India. Similar is the case of Syrian Christians today ( I am talkig about Christians in Syria not Syrian Christians in India). Today everyone around the world knows about Islamism in Middle East countries. But majority of them doesn't know about the indigenous christian presence there. If someone asked about religion in Iraq, syria, Lebanon, etc usually everyone will reply with Islam as Islam is the only known religion to the outside world. So, just as similar to Islam got opportunity to dominate middle east Christianity due to various political, economical and demographical reasons western countries got opportunity to dominate India and people believe it was westerners who brought Christianity in India. Once an American asked me whether my parents also belong to christian religion when I told him that I am a christian. His impressions was that all Christians in India are recently converted. For your clarification, along with Vasco da gama Jesuits reached India & with CMS missionaries Protestantism reached India.

        As majority of people in India are Hindus, people who accepted Christianity also were from Hindu families mainly upper cast Hindus called Brahmins/ Namboodiris. And the local king always accepted them with high reverence. As the cast discrimination was existing among Hindus that time, obviously those uppercast Hindus who accepted Christianity were reluctant to accept lower cast people. Though foreign missionaries who reached India has created many troubles for local Christians, they have contributed positively also in some areas, like , removing cast discrimination, providing education, etc. Local people were not much educated that time and they used to worship in Syriac Language. (You can find influence of Syriac in local language Malayalam also.) After the arrival of missionaries, they have translated bible with participation of various local personalities like Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban.

        Today we don't have much historical documents available about Christianity in India before 14th century. After the arrival of Portuguese it was a period of torturing for the local Christians as local Christians were worshiping in Syriac and Portuguese wanted to implement Latin faith. They destroyed all available documents to rewrite the local Christiana's history (that time Christians in Kerala was known as Nasranis; Nasranis means those who follow Jesus of Nasreth).

        Anyway, in short, I would say though missionaries created many troubles for local Christians they also had contributed positively in certain other area. You can compare that life as similar to British India. British created many troubles for Indians in British India. But sametime they have contributed positively in some other areas like Indian railway, etc.

        2. Spirituality/ theology: In their worship local Christians accepted some local practice which is not known to missionaries. Local Christian leaders never discouraged this practice as they were not against the basic faith though one can't find a biblical reference for it. One such local tradition is minnu kettu (tying a thread with a small locket across the neck of the bride by bridegroom during marriage). They used to worship in Syriac as prayers were not translated into local language. In some parts of Kerala there was some influence of idol worship due to their Hindu heritage. Thus missionaries who reached Kerala termed entire local Christians as idol worshipers and started reformation. Those who accepted reformation changed faith. Those who were keen on original faith withstood it.

        If there is any christian group in Kerala who says they are Aronian or Levitus priest I would say they are wrong. Our priesthood is the continuation of priesthood of Jesus. However, new testament era is not complete without old testament era and vice versa. That means we can't separate one from the other. You can see many things which happened in New Testament era was already mentioned in Psalms and Isaiah. You can see in old testament how Araon was getting ordained by Moses. Similarly you can see how Apostles were laying hands on others before sending them for their work. In old testament priests used to sacrifice animals to please God. In New testament Jesus sacrificed himself and established Holy Qurbana to please God. None of these are not merely coincident but one incident can't stand without the other.

        3. Church fight over property

        As similar to you I am also sad about fights between various christian groups. This kind of problem is there in every christian group today across the world. The only difference is that some are fighting inside the room others are fighting on the street. However, that is not an excuse to abandon right faith. Those who are fighting or doing injustice will be answerable but not others.

        4. Episcopacy

        In first century, people accepted Apostles as the leaders of Christians. We can also find in bible that our Apostles were blessed with many spiritual gifts. They were called to their mission by our Lord while they were busy in their work like fishing. similarly becoming a priest is also a call. Everyone could not become a priest. And even if there are someone as priest who are not called for that job, they won't be able to perform their duty. Sometimes though they are called they don't perform their duty due to evil influence. That is why we see some bad news about some priests in newspaper and other media. So it is not the problem with the faith but it is the problem with individual. If someone assumed a wrong job for which they were not called they will come in news for wrong reason. I hope you are understanding.

        Judgment is there for everyone. Apostles, bishops, priests and laymen have to undergo judgment day. Everyone will be answerable for their own action but not for others action. Why are you worried over that? You and I will be safe if we are doing our job properly for which we are called.

        Quote:


        just a reality check....is attending the qurbana getting you any nearer to God....or is it just a matter of habit & rituals.....a chanting of mandras & slogans (maybe in foreign languages).....for the comfort.... man seeks in habits & religiousity....is it making you a better human being.....are you in touch with your spiritual sides....& is your life getting transformed in the process......

        Unquote:

        The thing is that how you are attending Qurbana. Basically there are two kinds for attending Qurbana. 1. watching 2. participating

        Watching Qurbana means you are watching it like a movie which is not going to help you. Participating means you are becoming part of it. If you are becoming part of it you will understand the difference. You will be able to experience it. You listen to it carefully and understand its meaning. Today we have options in many language not like our ancestors who had very limited options like Syriac. If you ever got opportunity to listen to it, please analyse its meaning. Then you will understand many of our self made personal prayers are blunders. I gave you couple of examples in my one of the earlier messages about how people are praying with demands and comparisons.

        Finally Joji, you should at least be proud of christian presence instead of ridiculing 1-15th century Christians. First of all we don't have proper historical information as they are already destroyed. Secondly, they whole heartily welcomed missionaries though it created many problems for them at a later stage.

        in love

        Sajy
      • George Aramath
        Mr. Thannikkottu, Thank you for sharing your answers to questions posed by a pentecostal member. It was interesting and enlightening. First, I would suggest a
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 8, 2010
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          Mr. Thannikkottu,

          Thank you for sharing your answers to questions posed by a pentecostal member. It was interesting and enlightening.

          First, I would suggest a resource to find answers to common questions such as:

          Why do we baptize infants? Why do we pray for the dead? Should I confess before a priest?

          Answers can be found from the writings of Mar Osthathios and Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil, which were translated to English by Mr. Paul Philipose:
          http://www.malankara.com/malankara/aboutus/malan-about4.aspx
          http://www.malankara.com/malankara/aboutus/malan-about3.aspx

          One other thought that came to mind when reading the letter of the pentecostal member is how many of his doubts/skepticism are in line with common arguments of the non-apostolic churches. It's therefore safe to assume that these ways of thinking were given to them by someone else.

          This brings up a very obvious point about our church. As Mr. Thannikkottu alluded to in his first post, in the olden days, our faith was given to us by our family (which included the "extended" family we think of today). Plus, the church included the community. We prayed and worshiped together as one family within a village. So there were many different people who held the same faith.

          Now we grow up with only our parents. Our grandparents, uncles, aunties, and cousins are either in another state or another country. Our friends don't even know who Christ is. The church is someplace we go for 3-4 hours within a 168 hour week.

          With these changes is the necessity of our church to change, as well. Church can no longer exist as a Sunday-only institution. Ministries must start within our church: regular prayer meetings, youth/men's/women's ministry, etc.

          From my observations in America, where there is a church with ongoing spiritual activities and get-together's, there you will find members who are more attached to their faith. As they get together to learn about Kurbana, tradition, faith, etc., they have a deeper understanding and appreciation of their church; they begin to take ownership of their own faith.

          The concept of infant baptism alludes to this idea. Why do we baptize a child who is ignorant of what's happening to him/her? One of the main reasons is because the Church is seen as a family, under One Body. It therefore becomes the role of the Church, the family, to form this child into the faith that he/she will eventually accept. Why does our church not allow the mother or father to be the godfather/godmother of their child? Aren't they the closest ones of the child? One main reason is because the family of this Christian child must now extend beyond simply his mother and father. In other words, an active and vibrant church community is more likely to bring about an active and vibrant Christian.

          Anyway, this idea of moving away from a Sunday-only church has its barriers. First of all, if the priest is working full-time at a secular job to feed his family, this idea becomes impossible. It's no surprise that pastors within pentecostal churches are typically full-time pastors. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of our churches outside of India. Another major barrier is the mentality of the church members. If priority is given to secular events, then families will only look to the church on Sunday morning's. And typically these families will inherit children who place secular things first, and the church last.

          On the other hand, our church is gradually seeing the benefits of ministries outside the Holy Qurbana. If these on-going ministries are led by church-loving leaders, then they will serve to bring greater value and importance to the centrality of our Holy Qurbana.

          So, in summary, let us think about ways in which we can make our own churches move beyond the thinking of a Sunday-only institution.

          George Aramath
          #0849
        • Sajy Jacob
          This message is compiled based on my responses to various queries raised by members of Pentecostal church on various occasions. Usually the question which
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 10, 2010
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            This message is compiled based on my responses to various queries raised by members of Pentecostal church on various occasions.
            Usually the question which creates confusion among faithful is that "Are you saved?"

            This is the ladder through which our Pentecostal group starts climbing. Following this first question, the next question would be related to infant baptism. Both are very tricky questions to trap a person.

            Through baptism Holy Spirit anoints an adult/ child thus s/he becomes part of the church. The blessing of Holy Spirit is not limited to adult or child as there is no age limit. Or in other words Holy Spirit could work on infant as well adult as we could see Holy spirit was working on John the baptist by letting him know about Jesus when he was still in Elizabeth's womb and this Holy Spirit was working on Apostles as well. If a non-Christian person decides to become Christian, baptism will be conducted on an adult as s/he has to understand about Father, Son and Holy Spirit before accepting baptism. However, for a child born to a Christian family (in Orthodox Church), an infant could be baptized. At the time of baptism itself a godparent would be given the responsibility of growing child to teach the right faith. Normally this godparent will be the grandfather/grandmother of this child if they are accepting/ practicing the same faith. So teaching the child the right faith & getting him/her in understanding of Jesus Christ is the responsibility of parents and other members of the family. And church asks to give baptism as early as possible as church never would like to see anyone away from Holy Spirit's access. In that sense, it is a great mistake if we are consciously blocking someone from accessing & experiencing Holy Spirit. Usually baptism will be conducted after 40 days of the child's birth as mother of the child will not go to the church till these 40 days. For the mother of child, it is considered as the days of purification. In bible, we could find such days of purification were observed by Mary, mother of Jesus Christ as well. Church also takes the responsibility of the growing children by organising Sunday school classes, etc for their spiritual growth.

            Now other argument is that "church is not going to save & it is purely wastage of time that we spend in church with all these symbolic acts". This is the next difference between Pentecostal teaching & Orthodox teaching. For Orthodox Church Holy Qurbana is not symbolic but real whereas for Pentecostal church it is symbolic. For Orthodox churches Holy Communion or Holy Qurbana is not symbolic, rather it is the real body & blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus never said it is like my body & blood for us to say it is symbolic, but Jesus said it is my body & blood. Whereas Pentecostal/ protestant churches consider bread & wine as symbolic of body & blood which is against the teaching of Jesus. In fact there was only one church in 1st century. That time all were practicing same faith and everyone believed in same. But as time passed people who came with different fantasies divided that one & only one church to meet their expectations. If you believe in that one and only one holy apostolic & Catholic Church, it is sure you will be saved provided your actions match the faith. As similar to the Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic church also believe Holy communion is real body and blood of Jesus Christ. However the difference is that Roman Catholic Church went to the extent of scientifically defining how the particles/ materials in bread & wine becomes real body & blood of Jesus Christ using some definitions such transubstantiation, etc, whereas Orthodox Church never went to define this change of particles/materials to real body & blood of Jesus Christ. Rather Orthodox Church believe in Jesus' body and blood without raising a question "how is it becoming body & blood?" with the same faith wherein we believe Jesus was born of a virgin. As we never go to cross-question Holy spirit's work by questioning, how could a child born from a virgin?, we never question conversion of bread & wine to real body & blood.

            Sometimes people say church has its own limitations & so you have to do it yourself. But the fact is that there is no limitation for the church established by Jesus Christ. But it is true people in church have their limitations and excuses. We think church has limitation by looking at this people instead of looking at the church. Church also never differentiate saying you are Jew or the other is Greek. And this holy apostolic & catholic church which is established by our Lord 2000 years before is superior to any church which is mushrooming today with fantasies of different individuals. 1 Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. We the orthodox church is also practicing the same. Church is ready to accept local practice to win someone to our Lord Jesus Christ as far it is not against our basic faith upon which our church is established.

            There is vast difference between the words believe & faith. In fact the word believe is very loose in its expression. Whereas the other word faith has a strong characteristics. Orthodox Church is built upon the faith. As of my understanding Pentecostal/ protestant church only speak about believing, but not about the faith. The word believes has a very loose structure -believing in something means it can be one out of many options. But faith is strong & ultimate - not one out of many, but it is the one and only one without any choice.

            Orthodox Church takes death as a separation of physical body & soul. And those who are physically separated from us are also very much active. That is why we call our Lord as the Lord of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob as given in Psalms though Abraham, Isaac & Jacob are already physically dead. Our Holy Qurbana is for the living & dead. We believe in repenting, confession & receiving Holy Qurbana will relieve as from our sin & thus giving eternal life even after physical death. As there is eternal life, those who are departed from us are very much active and they can pray for us and we can also pray for them.

            As Pentecostal/ Protestant churches teaches bread & wine as symbolic body & blood, it is not possible for them to believe in eternal life through Holy Qurbana. When there is no hope of life through Holy Qurbana, there is no point of prayers for the dead. This is why Pentecostal church teaches not to pray for dead. And so they don't believe saints can pray for us as they can't believe saints as still living. Finally I would like to ask how Pentecostal group can ask "are you saved?" when they themselves are teaching not to pray for physically departed or not believing in activity of physically departed people thus indirectly accepting those who are departed are not living & active any more and that means not saved at all.

            In love

            Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu
            2912
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