The search for meaning in life

Pinocchio On Singleness

PinocchioPaul advises: To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. (1 Cor. 7:8)

This statement needs to be contextualized by that Paul spoke strongly in favor of the married state elsewhere in Scripture, confirming (Gen. 2:18), going as far as stating that forbidding marriage would be a sign of the end time apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

Although singleness has advantages, not everyone is equipped for this lifestyle. What Paul is advocating is that the unmarried state is ‘freer to serve God’, like he is, provided one has the gift of celibacy (vv. 6-7).

Having contextualized Paul’s admonition, I can now make my contribution to the thread. It is my opinion that anyone administrating God’s wisdom to the single is required to carefully observe the above and should be very cautions is admonishing the single to find partners, as it may not be God’s will for the season. More importantly in admonishing the married state as if it is superior to singleness, only serves the purpose to evoke negative emotions.

My observation especially in the smaller Churches is the tendency to encourage pairing off within the church, this also lacks wisdom. Further, given the lack of available potential partners, it often happens that a wise period dating and engagement is rushed — often advocated from the pulpit. It is in this regard (and others) that bigger churches have an advantage.

This is a copy of my post to a thread on the topic
Jose

To Judge or not to Judge

Only God can Judge

Do not Judge

by

Jose de Carvalho

‘God Himself doesn’t judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?’ How often have you seen this? Is it true? What does Jesus mean that we are not to judge others? (Matt 7:1) Many people use this verse as an attempt to silence/intimidate their critics.

The statement is actually not true, biblical history is replete with God judging His chosen and others in His interaction with human kind thought-out history. What does Jesus mean that we are not to judge others?

I find this comment from a Bible commentator interesting; ‘Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted of His sayings’.

Subsequent to reflection I have to agree! Considering that non-Christians also use the saying and quote the biblical verse as some sort of a proverb, meaning in the secular context; ‘the truth is relative.’

Many others claim that this is one of the most misquoted verses in the New Testament. This is an indication of how a non-biblical worldview influences biblical interpretation (ethical relativism that denies the existence of moral absolutes).

What did Jesus mean? Did he mean that we must never voice an adverse or unfavorable opinion? He certainly does not prohibit negative assessments, considering that Jesus has given us permission to tell right from wrong later on in the following verse and chapters (see vv.7, 15-16; 10:11-15; 16:6, 12; 18:17-18).

Whatever the case merits, what is certain is that Jesus is expecting merciful judgment, and if you judge without mercy, you will be judged without mercy (v.2). The immediate context also cautions that one should not judge others more harshly or by a different standard than one judge oneself.  ‘Lest you be judged’ does not mean you will not be judged by God if you do not judge.  The principle is that if you are judging, while you yourself are guilty, you are condemning yourself (see parallels 6:14-15; 18:32-35). Therefore make a more charitable judgment of your brother.

Another commentator stated, ‘to be discriminating and critical is necessary; to be hypercritical or a hypocrite is wrong’ which the immediate context of Jesus’ teaching (vv. 3-5).

The same original commentator then rightly concludes:

Anything that contradicts the truth is a lie—but, of course, to call something a “lie” is to pass judgment. For example to call fornication a sin is to likewise pass judgment—but it’s also to agree with God. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.

So, it appears that we have a standard to evaluate after all. Not that this is going to convince those that deny the existence of moral absolutes. For others at this point of the interaction the common saying that God is a loving God (unconditional) card is played.

However in this context this comment just displays a lack of understanding of God character. So, what does it mean that God is love?

Love is one of the attributes of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony.

Love and Truth

 

 

An evaluation of the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry.

536px-Bloch-SermonOnTheMount[1]An evaluation of the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry

by

Jose de Carvalho

 

 

Before proceeding any further I just want to admit to my ignorance on the topic and assert my reliance on God’s wisdom for inspiration on this research endeavour. Appended are my preliminary thoughts:

Most healing ministries appeal to Jesus’ healing ministry in one way or another, however Continuationists do not offer sufficient clarity in their position as to whether Jesus is the pattern for the Church today or not. This does not necessarily mean cessationism, but it would help clarify the issue of healing miracles in the Church and preclude simply using Jesus and the apostles as models for the contemporaneous Church without further explanation, therefore the question should be on the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry.
The contention that Jesus was fully human and acting under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit, hence believers can be similarly anointed and therefore can also heal, must take into consideration his deity, messianic mission, the distinctiveness of Jesus as a perfect man without sin thus in a perfect relationship with Father.
Preliminary the claim that Jesus acted as a model healer to be emulated today presents significant doctrinal problems as the Jesus presented by the gospel authors ministered distinctively and uniquely. Therefore his followers by definition may function at best only in a limited capacity.
Any assumption that Jesus delegated authority to his followers to function as he did must take in consideration the distinctiveness of his ministry and trace the biblical accounts of the ministry of healing of a) Israel’s divine healer, b) the Messiah, c) apostles and then compare it to that of contemporaneous believers, notwithstanding the fact that even if the Lord’s authority is available to believers this may not equal the similar anointing to heal.
Empirically the historical ministry of healing in the Church in the main does not display the instantaneous, complete healing narrated in the gospels. Modern medical science or God-given providence through medical science cannot replicate the organic healings that Jesus did; therefore what we witness today does not reflect the ministry of Jesus in any form.
This is not denying the possibility of divine healing occurring today, but that it is more appropriate to accept the distinctness and uniqueness of the One gifted to heal and the pedagogical value of his healing ministry. It is however not a model to emulate with expected corresponding results and a standard for ministry today. The crux of the matter is that a Christocentric ministry model needs to guard against a hyper literal, simplistic and I dare say naïve interpretation of what Jesus said and done before promulgating it as praxis. This does not in anyway dismiss Christocentricity as a valuable hermeneutical lens what it is admitting is Christocentricity without Christocomformaty in healing praxis.
At this junction it must be noted that the writer is not advocating an approach judged on the basis of outcomes (Teleological) as believers have an ethical and biblical duty to minister to the sick. Those that appeal to the healing ministry of our Lord as a model for praxis despite the lack of positive, empirical evidence (Rule – Deontologists) should then reflect whether this action has biblical validation.
Jesus’s healing ministry uniquely expresses the ultimate redemptive divine will and desire of God. Although this pattern is what God wishes to display in salvation history, the full benefit of Christ’s atonement is not available now, therefore believers will experience both sides of the promise paradox of the ‘now’ but ‘not yet’ in this side of heaven – in different measures, by different individuals, at different times.

 

The Purpose of Life Part 2

The Purpose of life

by

Jose de Carvalho

 

In my previous post I introduced the following thought: In adding value to the concept (The meaning of life), Christianity’s position has received much criticism from sceptics, who will not accept anything without empirical evidence to justify their lack of belief and are not able to take a leap of faith. Perhaps what I can add to the discussion is that the leap of faith that is required to accept Christianity’s position is not as daunting as one thinks!

The fact is by examining the evidence further you and I can determine beyond reasonable doubt that the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is true by examining extra biblical literature, therefore Christianity is a unique, factual truth, based on indisputable facts.

This is basically what I have already said before – now I want to provide some statements from Jesus to His disciples that add value to the discussion: Jesus appealed to Philip, do you not believe, at least believe, because of what you’ve seen me do. Jesus’ miracle healings, attesting Him to be God, are also recorded and beyond doubt.  What I mean by that is, it is recorded in extrabiblical resouces, even hostile witnesses recorded them. So what did the disciples see: they saw, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers cured, the deaf hear and the dead being raised to life. The apostle John then wrote, “Jesus’ disciples saw Him do many other miracle signs besides the ones witnessed and recorded in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.

 Jesus on Thomas: Thomas insisted on seeing evidence of Jesus’ resurrection when first reports broke out that He was alive.  He wanted evidence before committing. Jesus honoured his wish a few days later. Jesus showed Himself to him saying, put your fingers here and see my hands, put your hands into the wounds,

Don’t be faithless any longer believe!

Jesus said further you have seen, you believed, blessed are those who have not seen yet believe  paraphrased from (John 20:24:31).

  Of course no matter how thoroughly convincing the evidence is, we still must exercise faith. Jesus invited his disciples to have faith.  The key however for me is that the faith Jesus is asking His disciples to have is not blind faith, but informed, intelligent, factual belief.

To reiterate my position: God made man (including you and me) to know Him, love Him, bring glory to Him, and serve Him and others.  My life is about that and the pursuit of becoming more like Him in this life time, until I meet with Him in the after life – “this adds meaning to my life”, And  provides answers to:

Why I am here?

What am I doing here?

Where am I going?

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.

The Purpose of life Part 1

The Purpose of life

by

Jose de Carvalho

 

The meaning of life is a philosophical old age question and I don’t know if I can add anything to the discussion that has not already been theorized by some great minds. Ancient records provide evidence of the debate; Greek philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenist schools of philosophy have pondered the purpose of our existence. Several religious perspectives have played a significant role in how humanity perceives the subject: Western, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and far Eastern. The 20th century has seen radical changes to the concepts due to scientific and medical advancements, thus giving new meaning to the concept of beginnings of the human race, leading to so many revaluating human existences in biological terms. Modern existentialism is asking the question differently, ‘each one creates the meaning of his life.’ One should be set free from the question (what is the purpose of life) as it gives rise to anxiety and dread. In a previous post in the series, I presented Victor Frankl’s work on ‘Man’s search for meaning’.  He said that from a humanistic-psychotherapeutic point of view the question could also be reinterpreted to “what is the meaning of my life?” which translates as one ceasing to reflect when one is engaged in life, then the question should be “what is blocking my ability to enjoy life” this brings therapeutic value.

 Philosophy, science, medicine – all concepts that add value to the question, but what about theology?

All the religions provide concepts to the ‘meaning of life.’ At this junction it is important to state that I am a Christian; therefore I will provide ‘what adds meaning to my life’ from that perspective. In adding value to the concept, religions have received much criticism from sceptics who will not accept anything without empirical evidence to justify their lack of belief and are not able to make a leap of faith. Perhaps what I can add to the discussion is that the leap of faith that is required to accept Christianity’s position is not as daunting as one thinks! First of all, if humanity accepts that there is a God and that faith itself is a gift from God to the serious enquirer, then all that is required is that humanity stops trying to depend on themselves and take the leap of faith into the arms of a loving God. Secondly, the fact that I am a disciple of Christ is not based on Biblical accounts only, but on records of fact that are chronicled in Roman, Christian, Jewish, Hellenist and Greek records. The birth of Jesus, His life, sacrificial crucifixion and resurrection have been witnessed by many and are well attested, not requiring just the Bible to substantiate it and therefore not as absurd as many uninformed may think or at least not as absurd as to think that we live this life without purpose and then we die.

So God made me to know Him, love Him, bring glory to Him, serve Him and others.  My life is about that and the pursuit of becoming more like Him in this life time, until I meet with Him in the after life – “this adds meaning to my life”.

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.

Man’s search for meaning

A book review of Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’

A summary in Précis

By

Jose de Carvalho

 The book is about Viktor Frankl’s story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.

 “It has the power to transform lives” Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks.

 The author “in my living laboratory” was able to observe human behaviour and make some sense of it in the midst of the most horrendous circumstances and state, “we watched some of our comrades behave like swine, while others behaved like saints”. Concluding, man has both potentials within himself; which one is activated depends on decisions, not circumstances.” He alluded to that due to the extreme suffering, psychotic individuals would lose their usefulness, but some would retain the dignity of a human being. Everything can be taken from a person, apart from one thing – the last of human freedom, namely to choose ones own way! Fundamentally therefore one can conclude that if that kind of distinguishable behaviour transpires under those circumstances, any person can decide what shall become of him mentally and spiritually and have the ability to decide whether to retain his dignity or not. This is freedom that cannot be taken away. When one seeks  purpose invariably it is pleasure, wealth or achievement, but not all enjoyment is meaningful. Suffering is an indispensable part of life – without that and death human life is not complete. The way man accepts his fate and the suffering that it entails, the way he takes up his cross, even under the most difficult circumstances adds deeper meaning to his life.

“Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose and therefore no more point in carrying on” (Victor Frankl). 

The author also believes that if anyone utters the words, “I have nothing to expect from life anymore,” he would perish shortly. To him the question one should ask is, “what is life expecting from me?”

Any attempt in the camp to restore man’s inner strength was being shown some future goal giving him the ‘why to live’ for then he could bear almost anything. The moment a man became conscious of the responsibility he bears towards another human being, somebody who affectingly waits for him, or the knowledge that an unfinished work that uniquely and specifically can and must be fulfilled by him alone, added ‘meaning to his life’ to such an extent that he could bear almost anything. He will not throw his life away if he knows the ‘why’ of his ‘existence’ and then will be able to deal with it anyhow.

 Frankl made a very important observation, namely that the crowning experience of all for the overcoming man was the wonderful realisation that after all that he had suffered, he reached a place where he was no longer afraid of anything – the only fear left, was his fear for God.

 The author of the Biblical book Ecclesiastes come to similar conclusion from a different departure, after he had failed to find any value or justice “under the sun” over and above enjoying our lot in life, he begins to conclude that value must then be found transcendent to this life, leading  to reverence and obedience to God, bearing fruit that will stand on the Day.  Ones priorities should therefore not just lie in the things of this life, but also in God. He quoted has follows, “Fear God and obey His commandments for this is the entire duty of man, for God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

 The above although not part of the book review serves the purpose to contrast the two authors, one found meaning in suffering for what was to come still in this life, where the other in his search found none, however he found it in what was still to come in the after life, his philosophy was although man has to put up with his lot in life, all men will have all their deeds assessed, and such adds meaning to life.

 ‘A purpose for more than ourselves and greater than ourselves adds meaning to life’