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Category: Scripture Centrality

The Book of Heavenly Wisdom

The Book of Heavenly Wisdom

Adoniram Judson believed deeply in the power of the written Word. So firmly did he rely on the power of the Scripture that he printed and distributed his own tracts to a people who were not highly literate. Though the common person had some elementary literacy level, it was uncommon to spread news in general through the printed page. However, Judson still sought to spread the gospel through literature and Bible. Against all conventional wisdom, he was remarkably successful in his tract distribution. Having seen the amazing conversion fruit of tract distribution in Burma, he penned this poem, relishing the Word and its power to draw souls to Christ.

He never saw

The book of heavenly wisdom, and no saint

Had told him how the sinner might be saved.

But to his hut

A little tract—a messenger of love,

A herald of glad tidings—found its way.

The hue

Of death was on his cheek.

His burning brow

Told of the pain he felt.

Still no saint was near

To tell of joys to come.

No man of God

Stood by his bed to soothe the final hour;

But he had peace.

“When I am dead,” he saith, “put ye the little book

Upon my breast, and let it go with me

Down to my sepulcher.  It taught me all

That I have learned of God, and heaven, and hell.

I love the man who wrote it, and that God

Who brought it to my home.”[1]

 

[1]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 288-289.

The Influence of Secular Spirituality in SE Asia

The Influence of Secular Spirituality in SE Asia

It’s quite an insight for me to realize how quietly, subtly and effectively has been the influence of the secular viewpoints on spirituality in our society in general and in our Christian churches, in particular.  The way the secularists define ‘spirituality,’ for instance, indicates that it is a power potential (or an energy, a force, or an inner and unquantifiable spark)  that is ultimate and supernatural in nature and it transcends the physical and material reality that can bring about changes in the socio-economic, ecological, political, educational and social structures of societies and nations. In the educational realm, for instance, where I’m heavily engaged—in the last thirty years in the PreK-12 grade levels and up to the undergraduate and graduate school levels—the influence of such secular point of view on spirituality reaches to the core of the educational objectives, academic standards and its educational administrative policies and implementations. As educators, we are meant to ignite this spark and release the child’s power potential to bring about the changes the child—growing into ‘spiritual adulthood’—has been designed to achieve.  Even in Christian schools, such as Chiang Mai International School (CMIS) where I’m currently teaching, they haven’t escaped from the subtle influence of such a secular concept of spirituality. Even in our school’s values and virtues formation education that we used with our elementary, middle school and high school kids, it has not been based from the Scriptures. To put it bluntly, it’s all good deeds and the law (the Buddhist Concept of the Four Noble Truths and the Five Precepts) and all apart from the Gospel of grace that is in Christ Jesus. Emphasis on virtues which are based from a very secular point of view of goodness and spirituality but well-covered and well-coated with Christian terms and clothing, sprinkling some Bible verses here and there to make them look like what the Bible has really taught about spiritual growth in Christian character.

The most alarming of all is how this secular concept of ‘spirituality’ has efficaciously crept into our local churches in the Philippines, in the USA and in Thailand. I personally know a few Bible teachers, pastors and lay-preachers who teach some ‘principles of spirituality’ and ‘spiritual growth essentials’ where, at first glance, sound biblical. But with a closer look, one can see that its teachings are all without basis from the Gospel of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught in the Scriptures. The difference between the secular spirituality and the biblical spirituality is sometimes so hair-splitting that any immature Christian who is not rooted in the Word can be easily persuaded and led astray.  Self-help books on the ‘Law of Attraction,’ for example, have been sold by the thousands and the secular viewpoints on spirituality in these popular printed materials have seeped into the teachings in the local churches. These secular concepts of spirituality have inspired sincere believers to ignite the ‘law of attraction’ within themselves and bring about the changes, the prosperity and the success they all desperately want in this life, and hopefully in the life to come.  Who can blame them when these seemingly biblical concepts on ‘spiritual growth and maturity’ have been taught and unchallenged in our churches?

The need to return to the teachings of the Scriptures and the sure and clear grasp of the gospel of the grace of the Triune God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—has never been as obviously as necessary in times like these.