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Zed urges Vatican Synod for sympathetic look at marriage laws

RELIGION PLAYS AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE LIVES ...

The largest group of Churchgoers are Roman Catholic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindu religious figure Rajan Zed is urging the upcoming October Synod of Bishops at Vatican to exhaustively re-look into the Church marriage laws to make these more relevant to the contemporary society.

The Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will to take place in the Vatican from October 5-19 on the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, requested the Synod to deeply, sympathetically and honestly look into the predicament of remarried and divorced Roman Catholics and complexities of the law governing marriage annulments with a forgiving and merciful attitude.

Quoting a study titled “Modeling the decline of religion” by Richard Wiener (University of Arizona, USA), Haley Yaple (Northwestern University, USA), and Daniel Abrams (Northwestern University), which pointed out that “societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction”; Rajan Zed suggested to organizations and leaders of various world religions and denominations to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging if they wanted to keep the people in God’s fold.

Zed noted that people with “no religion” were increasing and we (religious leaders and organizations) were responsible for their alienation. We as religious leaders should live exemplary lives to add credibility to our preaching. Accept the people who and as they are, Zed added.


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True Religion

15th century depiction of Cain and Abel, Specu...

15th century depiction of Cain and Abel, Speculum Humane Salvationis, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By PK Christian Writer

Now all of us know there are many religions in the world, and each one is further divided into schisms, factions, and sects. Christianity has its denominations, Islam has its sectarian differences, and even Buddhism is divided into different schools of thought.

Moreover, there are tons of ways to classify these religions. So you can have “Eastern & Western religions”, or “Monotheistic & Pantheistic religions” so on and so forth. But I suggest that there are only 2 kinds of religions in this world.

One is the God-centered and the other is the man-centered religion. We also have to name these two religions, so let’s call the God-centered religions the “religion of Abel” and the man-centered religion the “religion of Cain”.

The story of the Cain and Abel is popular worldwide. The Qur’an says:

“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to God): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay thee.” “Surely,” said the former, “God doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.” Sura 5:27

So here are two brothers who both worship the same God. We see that even since the inception of humanity, religion has been a divisive issue where people always have differences in beliefs and practice. But the question is, why did God accept one offering and the reject the other?

The Qur’an does not give us the details. So let us move to the Torah and the books of Jewish scholars. What do we find there?

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. (Genesis 4)

So what was it about the meat that God liked it instead of fruits?

I asked the questions in my Sunday school class and received some interesting answers. I was told that “The fruits were old “and that is why God didn’t like them!

English: Sacrifice of Cain and Abel

Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people even suggest that Cain did not bring the tithe, the 10%. That is why God did not like it. But obviously, scriptures do not provide these details.

The fruits symbolize man’s own efforts, and this is in essence what a man-centered religion is all about. On the other hand, when Abel offered a blood sacrifice, he was admitting the fact there is nothing a man can do that would please the Almighty. In other words, it is not my efforts that make God happy.

Centuries later, Jesus told us a story:

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God (Luke 18)

Those who show God their “fruits” will leave the alter empty handed, but those who admit that they can do nothing to please a Holy God stand justified in His presence.

However, that’s not the only difference between the religion of Abel and the religion of Cain. Man-centered religion is the religion of hate, whereas the God-centered religion works in the best interests on humanity.

Have you ever realized that the first murder in the history of the world was done in the name of faith? What Adam did to Cain is what religious people have doing all the time.

So instead of worshiping God hypocritically, we should rather sing with U2:

She stands with a naked flame

I stand with the sons of Cain

Burned by the fire of love

English: Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4; illus...

Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4; illustration from the Sunrays quarterly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is also interesting to note what the books of Jews says on the Cain-Abel episode:

We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother, The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth (Genesis 4.10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race, but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race.(Mishnah Sanhedrin, 4.5).

This is the value the God-centered faith places upon human life. Someone asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?”, and he replied:

‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12

So what is the true religion? That we don’t boast of our own religiosity, but rather serve humanity in love.

If you liked this article, subscribe to the blog for free. 

©PK Christian Writer 2012-2014

Author bio:

I am a writer who creates content for clients (and myself as well). I think, read, and surf a lot. My strong areas of research and writing include religion, history, literature, and online content creation (especially blogging and ghostwriting).


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The story behind The Bible

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mini review: An Introduction to the Bible by J. W. Rogerson

This introduction to the historical aspects of the Bible should be required reading for every religious person who talks about “The Word” without ever really thinking about what they mean.

Shows how the Bible was put together by (mostly) men over the centuries. God may have overseen the entire process, but the Bible didn’t drop down directly from heaven.

Here’s a freely online revised edition, with minor updates to the original >> https://archive.org/details/J.w.Rogerson-AnIntroductionToTheBibleRevisedEdition

—MC


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He suffered under the Pontius Pilate

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...

Antonio Ciseri’s depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By PK Christian Writer

It is simply amazing what you learn as you read, study, and share God’s word. While discussing the Apostle’s Creed with my youth group, I came across some interesting tidbits about this man who surprisingly found his name mentioned along Jesus in the creed of the church.

In fact, how many of you have ever wondered why instead of Abraham, David, Peter, or even satan, only one person is mentioned in this document alongside Jesus and Mary? Was he exceptional in any way? Let start with discussing who he was.

The evangelist-historian Luke tells us the Pilate was the governor of Judea under the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1). However, it is not only the New Testament that talks about Pilate, for we also find references to his existence in the writings of Philo and Josephus (for instance, see Antiquities 18.32f, 35, 39).

Not to mention, a stone was discovered in 1961 that had the name and designation of Pilate.¹ The question is, was Pilate really a bad guy, a villain as the Church remembers him?

While studying Arthur’s Miller “The Crucible” in my school’s literature class, I came across this dialogue “Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this!”, which obviously has a negative connotation.

Before proceeding with a discussion of Biblical texts, let me mention that even going through the secular references to the Prefect show us that he was not a good official, especially when it came to Roman-Jewish relations.

Christ before Pontius Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy,...

Christ before Pontius Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy, 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He provoked the Jews more than once. On one occasion, he brought in idols of Roman emperors into Jerusalem, and it is also said that he once took money from the Temple to complete his administrative projects.

This is what history tells us. But what about scripture? Let’s go through some verses:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, (John 19)

In all this, we actually see Pilate, a Roman governor going to the limit in order to save a Jewish carpenter from the invisible town of Nazareth. To please the Jews, he had Jesus flogged and even tried to let a Jewish criminal (Barabbas) free. Why then do we call him evil? Where did it all go wrong? The passage continues:

but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

What is truth? Deutsch: Was ist Wahrheit? Fran...

What is truth? Deutsch: Was ist Wahrheit? Français : “Qu’est-ce que la vérité ?” Le Christ et Pilate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man who tried to show justice killed his conscious when his authority came under danger. In fear of losing his position, he let a man be crucified, someone he and his wife knew to be completely innocent.

Only in one moment a man becomes the hero or the villain. This holds an important lesson for all of us. It is not sometimes the sum total of our lives that history will count us righteous or evil, it may only be a single critical moment.

When friends, family, and society pressurizes you to do something you know is wrong, remember that if you give in to their demands, the annals of time will come to haunt you.

This brings us to our original question. Why to we remember Pilate while reciting the Creed? The answer is Jesus and not Pilate himself.

Anyone who came in contact with Jesus became immortal, whether it was a young villager who had 2 fish, or the donkey who received a king’s welcome the original Palm Sunday.Time waits for no one and it tramples those who try to stand in its way. But when Jesus collided with time, He broke it into two pieces.

¹ Image via Wikipedia:

An inscription bearing the name of Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea, in the time of Yeshua of Nazareth

If you liked this article, subscribe to the blog for free. 

©2012-2014 PK Christian Writer

Author Bio:

I am a writer who creates content for clients (and myself as well). I think, read, and surf a lot, but my strong areas of research and writing include religion, history, literature, and online content creation (especially ghostwriting).


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Am I Called Or Am I Crazy?

English: Motorola L71 (China Mobile customised...

Motorola L71 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By George Fishburne, Jr.

I remember when I purchased my very first mobile phone in the early 1980’s. It was a beige colored phone and it resembled a block of wood. It must have weighed at least a couple of pounds and its big ear and mouthpieces could be spotted from several blocks away.

Whenever you touched one of the keypads, they illuminated with lime green fluorescence for all to see. I was forced to carry it in my hand, because it could not fit in any of my pockets. Occasionally, I would check my phone to see if it still worked because there were periods when no calls came through. In those moments, I would use my home phone to call my mobile phone and then when my mobile phone rang, I would answer it.

There is an epidemic in the Body of Christ’s pre-ministerial ranks of those who say that God called them, when in fact they called themselves. My pastor often reminded us as young ministers ‘if you just pick up the gospel ministry call on your own, people, problems, and pressures will make you put it back down.’ Throughout scripture, we find evidence that before God calls men and women to a work, they are first called away from a work.

When Matthew (known as Levi) was invited into Jesus’ fold, he was taken away from his lucrative and disreputable enterprise as a tax collector. Luke was often referred to as ‘the beloved physician’ to denote both his reputation and soon to be former occupation. Peter and Andrew were summoned from their prosperous fishing business in order to join the band of Christ. Essentially, you will know its God because God always seems to seek out those who are already busy doing something! God then creatively channels their energy, gifts, and commitment to a stream rolling towards God’s perfect will for their lives.

Those who call themselves run the very real risk of being left to fend for them-selves in times of crisis and calamity.

I can recall after wrestling for months with what I believed was God’s will for my life and sharing that jewel of information with my pastor, Bishop Victor T. Curry, he had nothing to say about it.

After he finally and publicly acknowledged my call, I asked him one day, why he had made me wait so long. He responded, ‘Because God always calls us first to preparation.’ During that waiting period, God was merely equipping me with the tools of patience and integrity, tools that must join forces with the call in order to fortify that very call.

Those who are called into ministry should cherish and make the most of those periods of preparation, allowing them to become thoroughly equipped by the Master. They are then doubly prepared to enter the ministry and mission field God has destined just for them.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/am-i-called-or-am-i-crazy-7060925.html

About the Author

Elder George Fishburne, Jr. (www.georgefishburne.com) is the Senior Consultant of A Higher Calling Consultants and the Managing Editor of The Write Stuff, a writing and communications company which offers an array of text composition and editing services. His talents include ghost writing, resume & cover letter creation, website text content developement and an array of other literary services.

He is also the former Chief Operating Officer of the Elizabeth Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia and is the author of ‘A Higher Calling: Serving God, His Leaders and His People with Excellence’ and the accompanying guide and workbook.


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12 Steps of Faith: a Franciscan path

English: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoa...

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Brother Christopher

STEP ONE is about recognizing the illusion of our separateness

We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from God – that our lives are become unmanageable when separated from the Divine Source of Creation.

We believed God so loved us that he gave his son, Jesus the Christ to the world who suffered, died and rose from death for us. Through this we received the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life as gifts.

‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.’ -Francis of Assisi

STEP TWO is about the birth of faith in us

We have come to believe that a power greater than ourselves will restore us wholeness and in turn freedom from dis-ease.

We receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit to know God better and have a fruitful life and ministry. We received the fruit, the gifts, and the power of the Spirit along with Christ’s authority over the powers of darkness.

‘While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.’ ― Francis of Assisi

STEP THREE involves a decision to let God be in charge of our lives

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the Divine Source, God as each of us understand Him.

We make a covenant to live and serve in the Body of Christ through the teachings provided to us by The Son of Man. We celebrated God’s covenant of love for us through Communion and affirmed our covenant of love for Him through Baptism and the teaching of The Son of Man.

‘Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.’-Francis of Assisi

English: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoa...

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP FOUR involves self-examination

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

We experienced God’s healing power and grace inwardly, outwardly and in our relationships with others.

‘Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love,

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved, as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’

― Francis of Assisi

English: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoa...

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP FIVE is the discipline of confession

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

When we believe in the illusion of our separateness from God we create dis-ease in our self and for others in our life.

‘I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.’ ― Francis of Assisi

STEP SIX is an inner transformation sometimes called repentance

We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Repentance, also called penitence, is a change of mind and of heart with regard to sin so as to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from God or a person who is wronged or sinned against. Repentance is the God-granted attitude of having sorrow for personal sin and the turning away from it towards a new life.

‘It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ‘― Francis of Assisi

STEP SEVEN involves the transformation or purification of our character

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

‘Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can,and the wisdom to know the difference.’ ― Francis of Assisi

STEP EIGHT involves examining our relationships and preparing ourselves to make amends

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

‘No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.’ ― Francis of Assisi

English: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoa...

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP NINE is the discipline of making amends

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

‘We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.’ ― Francis of Assisi

STEP TEN is about maintaining progress in our reconnection to the Divine Source

Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

‘Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.’ ― Francis of Assisi

STEP ELEVEN involves the spiritual disciplines of a practice of prayer and meditation

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Prayer is when you speak to God. Meditation is when God speaks to you.

‘We should seek not so much to pray but to become prayer.’ ― Francis of Assisi

English: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoa...

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP TWELVE is about ministry

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.’ ― Francis of Assisi

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/12-steps-of-faith-a-franciscan-path-7056117.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.

http://www.BrotherChristopher.org


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Religious Americans view others

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

It is only human for most people to think more highly of themselves and the groups (academic, professional, social, religious, political and national) that they identify with, than they think of others. It is only natural to notice more of your own and your own groups virtues than the virtues of others; and it is only normal to to be less aware of your own groups vices and prejudices than those of others groups.

Thus, it is not surprising that a survey last week by Pew Research, found that Evangelical Protestants, who are confident that they are going to Heaven, score a warm rating of 79 with people who called themselves “born-again” or evangelical, but only receive a rating of 52 from others, a 27 point difference.

Catholics also give themselves a similar warm 80 score, while non-Catholics give them a six point warmer score than Evangelical Protestants rating at 58. but that still is a 22 point difference.

And Jews, who do not fear original sin and eternal damnation, rate themselves at a very warm 89, while non-Jews rate Jews as a warm 63, which is 5 points warmer than Catholics, and 11 points above Evangelical Protestants, but still a 26 point difference between self and others ratings.

On the other hand while Atheists gave themselves a 62 rating, others gave them a cool 41 rating, a 21 point difference.

White Evangelical Protestants rank Buddhists at 39, Hindus at 38, Muslims at 30, and atheists at only 25; the lowest score of any group.

Atheists give evangelicals an equally low overall rating of 28. But Atheists give much warmer ratings to Buddhists 69, Jews 61 and Hindus 58.

Americans are somewhat polarized about evangelicals. The survey found that, “roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27 percent) as give them a warm rating (30 percent).”

The most important results for Jews in this study is the very positive views Americans have of Jews and Judaism. Jewish anxieties about religious anti-semitism are greatly exaggerated.

On the other hand, many Jews need to examine their own negative attitudes toward evangelical Protestants who clearly differ with us in as many areas as we differ with them, yet still have a warmer view of us then we have of them.

White evangelicals rated Jews at a very warm 69, while Jewish respondents gave evangelical Protestants a very cool 34. Most people explain this as due to their ‘southern style’ and Evangelical Protestant Missionary efforts to convert Jews; which acts to offset their support for Israel.

Jews and Catholics have warmer views of each other than Jews and evangelical Protestants have because Catholics have no active missionary activities directed toward Jews, and Jews are more likely to know Catholics then they are likely to know evangelical Protestants.

Thus, Catholics are viewed more warmly than evangelical Protestants (58 vs 34), and this is only a little less than the Catholic view of Jews at 61.

These ratings are not a fluke. The Pew results match closely with a similar study in 2007 by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell for their 2010 book, ”American Grace.” The overall order of warm-to-cold views for religious groups is unchanged between the two studies.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com

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