Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Session 02 - Why did God give the Commandments ? - The Use and the Abuse of the Law of God

"The Lord kills and He makes alive". What is the function and purpose of the Law of God?

How does the sinful nature (the flesh) deceive us into abusing the Law of God with catastrophic results and consequences? Israel sought salvation and Life, but abused the Law to manufacture its own self-righteousness and was exposed to God's severe judgement of blinding to this day.

This abuse of God's law by the 'Flesh' leads to a sensual 'spirituality' of touch not, taste not,handle not... which puffs up the fleshly mind with humble pride !

What are the legitimate purposes of the Law ?

One is to restrain transgressions (as against inward sinning) by attaching external and carnal sanctions of reward(blessing) and punishment(curses) to obedience to its commands. Both the rewards and punishments are material and this worldly. This is a temporary provision pending and in anticipation of the full solution to Sin that is provided by the Gospel.

But there is a further and more glorious dimension to the Law. There is a ministry of Death. There is a ministry of Condemnation. There is a ministry of God's Wrath. There is a generation of Christians who have never partaken of this ministry but are found inside Christ's church. This is the ministry of God's Law and it is glorious! Here the Law functions as a school master to bring us to Christ.

A rightful use of the Law of God by the power of the Holy Spirit brings us into a personal and experiential discovery of the knowledge of Sin within. This session describes the devastating process through which this knowledge of my sinful nature as exceedingly sinful and impotent to repair itself is exposed and revealed. Now I know and am convinced that I am wholly evil, and a slave to the principle of SIN that rules me. The end result is that we desperately and earnestly start seeking for a Saviour from Sin (not sins) outside of ourselves for the first time. The Law has precipitated a crisis of Death unto Life. You can download the audio recordings from here

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Sound of Silence ? - Healing Modern Schizophrenia in Public Life

Rationalism applied and universalized into all the institutions of modern society from the university to the workplace results in a secular society which suffocates with no spirit, and hence secular man now runs to a private and pure mysticism to save himself from this breathlessness.
While apophatic spiritualities have their place within genuine faith though at its highest point of response to the manifestation of 'God's unspeakable gift' they definitely do not belong to the first steps of an alternative to the existential vacuum created by the logics of secularism permeating the public spheres of life where we go to work daily.
Schizophrenic modern man having rationalized secularism into all of society and life, lusts after a private but wordless and contentless mystical spirituality to sustain him with meaning and happiness. In India we would say that Brahman is Nirgunan i.e. God Himself is contentless!
The gospel spirituality offers a real alternative. Here we find the Spirit hovering over the primevel chaos to bring a whole universe of creation filled with light and life out of darkness. But Spirit does this by first creating the language that speaks creation and form into being. 'And God said....' (Gen 1). Here is a spirituality of word and spirit melted together.
More still, spanning the yeons, the same Spirit comes to baptize each one of us into New Creation, and in each of us is first created the fire of languages that speaks forth boldly the life of God into New Being. (Acts 2).
In contrast to secular man, in the Man Jesus, we can come into an authentic spirituality that heals this schizophrenic splintering of modern spirituality into the emptiness of private silence (call it Brahman if you want) divorced from the logics and discourses driving public action (call it Maya if you want). This Jesus spirituality heals us by immersing each of us with gifts and languages ablaze with the fire of God's Life so we land up speaking New Life into all the vast spaces of the Public.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Not To Do Theology

"As soon as the Gospels were written, speech without experience began to dabble with the new facts proposed by the existence of the Church...People tried to think the New Life without being touched by it first in some form of calling, listening, passion or change of heart "
-- EUGEN ROSENSTOCK-HUESSEY in The Fruit of Lips Or Why Four Gospels

What is troubling about the new recovery or discovery of the Reformation truths in this generation which were eclipsed in the West for a time and never planted in Indian churches fully any time(acknowledging sparks of exceptions)is exactly captured by Rosenstock's statement above. To get hold of the Reformed faith merely as a system of theology is itself damning. But what i have seen is that there is an avid aversion to the experiental aspects of the Truth by claiming that experience is dangerous and the pinnacle of this arid and powerless rationalism which is birthed more in the spirit of modernity than of Christ is that it dares to redefine faith as mere assent to the system of doctrines.
In contrast to this we must say that the gospel which Paul says is 'The Power of God for salvation' if at all it comes anywhere truly has come only when it does not come in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance. Regeneration is not about just a change of mind though it involves that profoundly but also about an entire New Humanity and a New Creation that ultimately transforms every realm of life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Program of In Depth Discipleship for 2010

This year 2010 is a year of beginning a very innovative and one of its kind program in discipleship to raise and equip sons and daughters of the Kingdom who are called out to manifest the reign of Christ in the public spheres of society especially in Indian mainstream life. The program is a year long initiative and just got kicked off on Jan 17. You will find a draft of the full contents and structure of the discipleship series here here

Session 01 - Sin and Death

For the year 2010 we have started a new series of indepth discipleship sessions with the intention of raising and preparing and equipping sons and daughters of the Kingdom who will serve the full purpose of God in the public realms of mainstream society including manifesting the reign of Christ in the realms of business, economics, politics, arts, humanities, social sectors, higher education, university life and advanced research . You can access the audio recordings of these dynamic sessions from
HERE . The first session begins with 'SIN AND DEATH' i.e. with discovering ourselves before God.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Theological Models for Marketplace Ministry - An Evaluation and New Directions

The following 7 models are currently available and so far tested out broad models for interpreting the role of business and professions in God’s economy as a calling:

1. The Marketplace as a target for evangelism – there are ‘marketplace ministries’ focused on evangelism of business leaders and professional elites.

2. Tent Making – with a focus on sending Business Professionals as Missionaries to difficult to penetrate cross cultural contexts as an alternative to traditional missionaries

3. Business for Missions – or Corporate Philanthropy with a Christian twist to support specifically Christian Mission organizations as donors.

4. Business Ethics approaches stressing ethical business practice based on Christian values

5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approaches that look at a broader purpose to business responsibility to society and the earth. In practice this means donating/ supporting not traditional cross cultural missions but projects of social and community development and environmental causes like the Green Earth project undertaken by the company through its own foundation or usually through a NGO. The triple Bottom line approach of social auditing is a common method for measuring CSR.

6. Business as Missions – Instead of single professionals moving to impenetrable cross cultural settings here an entire business is set up in a cross cultural context for evangelism, discipleship or ‘great commission fulfillment’ ie. Business as church planting but also increasingly for wholistic entrepreneurship/mission – means real business product or service to cater to the community too in addition to evangelism and discipleship priorities.

7. Business for Wholistic Transformation understood under the Mission as Transformation paradigm.
All of these have weight to recommend them at various points and they have much good in them. My experience in marketplace ministry is situated very close to the seventh model. But we must move on deeper as the Spirit leads continually into deeper waters for Kingdom adventure ! Where does this lead us ?
One answer is that the problem area is also defined by the newer academic discourse on economic and political ideologies of capitalism, communism, socialism etc and the corresponding institutions of society. This area relates to the tacit value assumptions Christian entrepreneurs hold regarding the larger issue of the political-economy and the capitalist and market form of organizations. It is assumed this will strongly affect the paradigm or models (from the first section or beyond them) that Christian entrepreneurs will choose to operate under or it may seek to transform current economic organization itself as an eschatological task. It includes the following:

a. Sociology based studies on Sociology of Economic Behavior, economic sociology and post-modern approaches to economics of late capitalism anticipating the post-capitalist society, including recent efforts to move beyond CSR and look at transforming capitalism in secular and Christian forums– including ‘kingdom capitalism’, Arun Maira’s reflection on ‘Transforming Capitalism’ in Indian context etc.

b. Serious recent efforts to approach the realm of economics and the market from a fully orbed theological perspective say using the doctrine of God itself as the starting point for economic reflection instead of a marginal Ethics perspective.

The Symposium on Marketplace Theology that I am helping organize with MIIS in January 3rd to 5th right here in Chennai is a unique effort to enter through the help of the Spirit of Truth into such deep waters in the business and entrepreneurial world. This conference marks a first for Indian theology - there are other efforts to engage economics in India but this one does it in the world of corporate, professional life for living out business as a calling in the Kingdom . So it also marks a first for Indian businessmen and professionals as it is India's first start at a fundamentally theological approach to business. That calls for deep tranformations in 'marketplace ministry'. It goes beyond popular workplace ministries which are the current rage in town . As my friend Benedict puts it so well, we start to learn for first time, the art of ' Theologically enabled Strategizing '! These are exciting and innovative times to live in and seek the Kingdom. You are invited to seek the Kingdom with me!