Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have received in my ministry over the years and via email for this column.
Dear father Paul: One of my professors claims that Jesus went to India as a young man and there learned most of his teachings from Hindu gurus. Did he? — M.W.
Dear M.W. Your professor is seriously mistaken.
First, the obvious. Jesus’ teachings about God were all “mono-theistic.” (there is only one God), in keeping with Judaism, not “pan-theistic,” (everything is God) as is taught by Hindus. Jesus never cited or quoted from Hindu Vedas, but in every single case he taught from the Hebrew Old Testament which proclaimed the “mono-theistic” God of Judaism.
Second, Jesus was and is God in the flesh. As such he is “omniscient,” (all knowing). And while I am sure that as a boy and a man he learned many things ... his father’s skill at carpentry, for instance, as-well-as the Old Testament scripture, see Psalm 1:2 ... he could never gain any new wisdom from a divine perspective, since, again, he was already all knowing.
Third, Jesus’ teachings, unlike the teachings of Hinduism, clearly distinguish creation from the creator, i.e., the things God created, from God himself.
Lastly, the core of Jesus’ teaching was man’s need for redemption from sin and death ... not reincarnation and enlightenment.
There is absolutely no evidence that Jesus ever studied in India or even went to India. Your professor friend no doubt leans to “eastern religious mysticism,” and is simply seeking to promote his own “new age” (non-Christian) beliefs.
Dear Father Paul: I have looked in vain in this area for a really good, nearly perfect church for me and my family. I’m talking about a church like we find in the New Testament. We frankly have given up finding one and are just staying home on Sunday and watching a church service on T.V. You probably don’t agree, but what’s the harm? — E. K.
Dear E. K.: You are right, I don’t agree, but not for the reasons you might think.
Wow. You have discovered that the church isn’t perfect, and is full of sinners. Imagine that.
You mention looking for churches like we find in the New Testament. If you will study your Bible carefully, you will find that almost all of the “New Testament churches” were, in fact, seriously flawed as are today’s churches. Truth is there is no such thing as “a perfect church,” not even my own. Sorry. My church became “imperfect” the day I became its pastor and I expect any local church that you and your family might join will no longer be “perfect” after you join as well.
So you are going to have to make some compromises ... simple as that.
But here’s the thing E. K. All of us church going “sinners” are right where God wants us ... right where we “need to be,” ... in his house ... and in his presence ... every Sunday. In church God meets us on an intimate and personal level. In church he teaches us, he touches us, he ministers to us and allows us to minister to others in his name. In church we experience his love and his encouragement for the difficulties we face every day. Personally, as a weekly church attendee for 62 years now, I don’t see how people make it through the week, let alone through life, without the strength, provision and guidance that regular attendance in a Bible based church affords. Really.
Besides, regular church attendance is not a “suggestion” for Christians. It’s a command. Hebrews 10:25 says this, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another all the more as you see the (judgment) Day approaching.”
See you this Sunday!!
Do you have a question? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer you in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, Sacramental congregation. You are cordially invited to worship with us this coming Sunday. More information, directions and pod-casts of Father Paul’s Sunday messages are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com