John Calvin: The Human Heart is an Idol Factory

The Great Reformer of the 16th century, John Calvin, along with Martin Luther, were the most influential voices of the Protestant Reformation. After the Bible, Calvin’s systematic theology titled ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’ continues to be one of the greatest literary works which have helped to shape the soul of the church, both then and now. My attempt in this article is to present a summary of what he has to say on the subject of idolatry in general and specifically about its manifestation in the form of ‘veneration of images’ in the Catholic church during those times. I am sure that this will have implications for all of us who live in cultures where idolatry is a very prevalent religious practice, especially for those of us who live in India. And as you think about it, my hope is that this article will inspire some of you to take up this book and start reading it for yourself. Continue reading “John Calvin: The Human Heart is an Idol Factory”

Book Review: ‘Fifty Reasons Why Jesus came to Die’ by John Piper

This is the first book review that I am publishing on this site and it is a joy for me to introduce to you not just the book but also the author, who has had a great impact on my life and thinking. He is John Piper. With 33 years of pastoral experience, he has also been a prolific writer with many books to his credit. Although, my engagement with his writings has been largely limited to articles written by him on his online ministry platform, www.desiringgod.org, the very first books that I read were ‘Five Points: Towards a deeper experience of God’s Grace’ and ‘Does God desire all to be Saved’. And both these books have proved to be major turning points in my life, as they drastically altered my view of God, man and salvation. One of his distinct contributions to Christian life and thought has been the idea of Christian Hedonism, which he often encapsulates through the statement, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him’. You can read up more about it on the Desiring God website. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Fifty Reasons Why Jesus came to Die’ by John Piper”

The Cross, the Spirit and the spiritual disciplines

The Psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” and he answers his own question by saying, “By guarding it (his way) according to your word” (Ps. 119:9). And yet we need only to ask any young man or woman how easy it has been to keep his or her ways pure in accordance with God’s word and most responses would range from simple disappointment to utter despair. They will tell you how difficult it has been to even understand or accept the word of God, leave alone the very ability to walk by it. And the Gospels show us that this condition prevailed among Jesus’ disciples too, before something drastic happened in their lives. And that drastic action was taken by God at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Continue reading “The Cross, the Spirit and the spiritual disciplines”

The Mystery of Jesus

Searching for the true nature of Jesus

Who is Jesus, really? In the Gospel of Mark, the author is keenly interested in answering this question for his readers. And in this article, we will try to see what is Mark’s answer to this very important question. But that is not a novel theme found in Mark alone, for that seems to be the concern of much of the New Testament writing, found in the Bible. In these writings, Jesus identified himself in various ways and many times it was metaphorical in nature. He identified himself as the shepherd of the lost sheep, a physician for sin-sick people, the light for men living in darkness, a messenger of good news for the world and even the true vine whose branches bear fruit. But all those were metaphors, still leaving us with the question about his true nature. Continue reading “The Mystery of Jesus”

The Ultimate Purpose of God

A children’s catechism book that I was using to teach my children, expected them to first answer the questions ‘who made them and why God made them?’. The answer to the first question is obvious, ‘it is God’. But the second answer is not that obvious for many, even seasoned Christians. And the book answers the second question saying, ‘To glorify Him and enjoy him’. And I would totally agree that God’s Ultimate Purpose in creating everything is to display ‘His Own Glory’ so that his creation will also ‘glorify Him’.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”. The beautiful and majestic skies proclaim the glory of God. They are calling out to us, to do the same. And that is why the worship that rises from Heaven is: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Continue reading “The Ultimate Purpose of God”