Tag Archives: Theology

Education without life is certainly dangerous…

SadhuSundarSingh“I studied theology in a theological seminary. I learned many useful and interesting things no doubt, but they were not of much spiritual profit. There were discussions about sects, about Yesu Christ and many other interesting things, but I found the reality, the spirit of all these things, only at the Master’s feet.

 “When I spent hours at his feet in prayer, then I found enlightenment, and God taught me so many things that I cannot express them even in my own language. Sit at the Master’s feet in prayer; it is the greatest theological college in this world. We know about theology, but he is the source of theology itself. He explains in a few seconds a truth that has taken years to understand. Whatever I have learned has been learned only at his feet. Not only learning, but life, I have found at his feet in prayer.

“I do not condemn theologians wholesale, but it is unfortunately the fashion in Western thinking to doubt and deny everything. I protest this tendency. I never advise anyone to consult theologians, because all too often they have completely lost all sense of spiritual reality. They can explain Greek words and all that, but they spend too much time among their books and not enough time with the Master in prayer. It is not that I oppose all education, but education without life is certainly dangerous. You must stop examining spiritual truths like dry bones! You must break open the bones and take in the life-giving marrow.”

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929?), an Indian Christian mystic

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey

The sad thing about living in a Western influenced culture is that we rarely have the opportunity to hear and learn from our brothers and sisters in the East.

Kenneth Bailey, an American Presbyterian minister/professor who spend 60 years (1935-1995) in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus, tries to remedy this issue with his book “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies In The Gospels.”

“Middle Eastern Christians have been called the forgotten faithful. The world knows that across the centuries there have been Jews and Muslims in the Middle East. For the most part, however Middle Eastern Christians evaporated from Western consciousness after the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. Few are aware of the existence today of more than ten million Arabic-speaking Christians who possess a rich heritage of ancient and modern literature. Speaking a Semitic language, these Christians are a people who live, breathe, think, act and participate in Middle Eastern culture; they are rooted in the traditional ways of the Middle East. Their voices, past and present, need to be heard in biblical studies.” (Preface, pg 11-12)

Accordingly Bailey draws from a collection of Syriac, Hebrew/Aramaic and Arabic commentaries, Bible translations and other writings to bring a fresh look at the message of Jesus.  It is this connection to our Eastern family that makes Bailey’s book so refreshing and welcoming.

In other words, this isn’t a novelty book full of ‘new’ theological ideas. Nay, a lot of what he says is similar to what I’ve heard before or has worked out myself with the Lord. The genius of the book is Bailey’s reliance on the Church Fathers of the East who illuminate the culture around the life of Jesus.

Continue reading Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey