Fanatics, Extremists, and Religion

The difference between fanaticism and true religion.

Fanaticism is an unhealthy set of principles that takes the letter of the law too literally and avoids compassion or feeling towards self or others. It is found in all faiths and ideologies. It is part of the human narrative.

On the other hand, true religion is one who lives by the higher law of love and commitment to truth. A condition that takes much more effort, patience and sacrifice to achieve than simply following a legal code.

There are good Christians and bad Christians, same with socialists, capitalists, Jews, and also Muslims. History shows that even non-religious systems such as Communism, and the attempted establishment of Western Democratic countries in the Middle East have run into the same problems of fanaticism. The ancient texts and modern history weaves the account that wherever humanity exists, greatness is found, but also the element of corruption and inhumanity always runs in parallel.

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Believer/Unbeliever, Faithful/Infidel, What is best?

A question of properly translating πιστός and ἄπιστος in Byzantine Greek Church literature.

Should they be translated as believer/unbeliever, or faithful/infidel?

The translation of believer is not difficult to accept, though it is a tad ambiguous in today’s English, but unbeliever is too neutral. It does not reflect the intensity ascribed to by the majority of the original writers. Infidel may be better suited. It is a strong word that has near racist implications based on religious grounds, and has especially been propagated by media coverage of radical Islamic actions against those who do not share their beliefs. In reference to some Byzantine Church writings, infidel feels closer to the writer’s intent.

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Evangelicals and Health Care Ethics

How health care ethics need to be ingrained in the fabric of the evangelical mindset.

Technology has introduced great breakthroughs on issues of life and death but has also naturally brought about new ethical issues that the traditional faith has not been prepared to engage in.

Most evangelicals are left with making life or death decisions, not on the basis of religious piety, but the insistence of economics or social convenience. They are game time decisions made in hospitals and doctors offices. These decisions are not considered the role of the church or faith. It is just what has to be done. Faith comes later.

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Thoughts on Ecstasy, Private Revelation, and Prophecy

The use of private revelations, ecstasy and prophecy in the late Medieval European religious vernacular. What these words stood for, the growing opposition, and parallels to modern Christian mystics.

The societal and personal impact of these states has had a tremendous impact on European history. The mystical life was so widespread that contemporary Renewalists (Charismatics, Pentecostals, and Third Wavers) can use this era as a framework both to improve the experience but more importantly guard against excess. The extravagance of the mystical experiences was one of the essential sources for the Reformation and forced a significant shift in European thought and life—an impact still felt today.

All of Europe, whether Protestant or Catholic, was immersed in a mystic lifestyle.

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Why the Evangelical Church is Declining

Candy bar with Jesus name

Outlining how the superficiality and the anti-intellectualism of the Evangelical movement are causing a major decline in membership and the remedy for it.

Churches from numerous types of backgrounds see that their numbers are dropping and are quickly upgrading their style of worship, renovating the church foyer into coffee shops, pressing people into the weekly small groups, producing bigger or better special dramas or shows, or spending on new personnel and equipment to better communicate through the web, apps, video and other burgeoning technologies. These technologies help but there is something far more profound going on.

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Book Review: Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing

Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing: Teachings from the Early Christian East by Jean-Claude Larchet is an examination of mental illness from an Eastern Christian perspective.

It is very well done work on the topic at hand, but it is not intended to prescribe therapeutic solutions for those who are suffering, or dealing with a person struggling with some form of mental illness. One has to read it for the historical value. It is a detailed history on the perceptions and practices by various Eastern Church leaders on the subject.

The author’s knowledge of both modern psychological conventions and Eastern Church practices regarding this subject is finely interwoven. There is some very well documented work here.

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Hebrew and the First Language of Mankind

The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, by Solomon Hart. Italy. 1850.
The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, by Solomon Hart. Italy. 1850.

The history of Hebrew as the first language is a fascinating story that travels through Patristic, Rabbinic, and the Greek worlds. The sacredness of this language has cycled through over 2,000 years of Jewish and Christian literature.

The perception of the Hebrew language in Western literature, especially by the ecclesiastical writers is an interesting theological exploration that seldom is talked or written about. Since it is the language of the Old Testament Bible, it obviously has some kind of reverent status among Judaism and Christianity. How this sacred language is viewed and applied varies. One of them forwards Hebrew as the first language of mankind, another promotes Hebrew as the language which God personally used, and there is an allusion by some to the use of Hebrew with the first Pentecostal tongues outburst recorded in the Book of Acts. It then begs the question, was Hebrew the first language of mankind?

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A Religious Look at Miracles and Mental Illness

Personal and historical observations of mental illness from a christian perspective.

If one reads the Gospels and analyzes the healings that Jesus did, approximately a third involved what is now classified as some form of mental illness. That was a large part of His ministry.

The Gospels were written over two thousand years ago and the mental health statistics have hardly changed. The Canadian Mental Health Association has calculated that 21.3% of Canadians will have a mental health issue in their lifetime.1 It is an important topic for the christian community to address.

What exactly is mental illness and how to deal with it from within a christian framework is a difficult question to answer. Some say it is a demon, others, only biological, and most simply ignore the subject. A large majority of ministers refer the mentally ill to skilled practitioners.

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The Purpose of Prayer

ArtScrollSiddur

A detailed look at the nature and purpose of prayer from a Jewish prayerbook. A definition that sheds any superficiality and uncovers a deep and introspective rite that transforms the soul.

The ArtScroll Siddur contains one of the best definitions of prayer found anywhere. A siddur is a Jewish prayer book that outlines personal and communal prayers for almost any occasion; life, death, loss, birth, success, and everything in-between. It is written from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. The following is an excerpt.

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