Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Syriac Orthodox, Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Quad Centum (Issue 400) Souvenir Edition

Volume 7 No. 400 March 1, 2017
Malankara World Journal Issue 200 Souvenir published on March 5, 2014 had a foreword that began like this:

"Five years ago, it was just an idea; today we are celebrating a milestone.

This is a historical occasion - at least for me. When I had the gleam in my eyes about doing something to help our family and our young as well as old members of the church to learn more about our liturgy, sacraments, and above all, the Bible, I didn't foresee publishing a Journal. What I visualized at that was to develop a library for information about Christianity, and then organize teleconferences and online study fellowships. I also wanted to push the premarital counseling as well as ongoing post marital counseling where our family can come together and share their experiences, successes and failures and receive help from their peers. Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches do this. Our church has little or none of what I call Pastoral Ministry - helping our people with their problems. Yes, we do realize that the family is the 'cornerstone' of our church."

Now it is March 3, 2017 when I am penning the foreword for Issue 400 Souvenir Edition. So, it is 8 years. I am amazed at what God can accomplish through us! Malankara World Journal is now known all over the globe by its target audience. (Actually, I suspect we are also known by people outside our target audience too; people attempt to hack into our website to insert their slogans. So, obviously, they have a respect to our reach too!!

I am happy that our church realized the importance of ministering to our family. In North America, under the MASOC (Malankara Archdiocese of Syriac Orthodox Church in North America), we have started a Dept of Ministry under the able guidance of Very Rev. Abraham Kadavil Cor Episcopos. Special sessions were organized at the Annual Family and Youth Conference. Last summer's session with young adults and parents to discuss the issue of marriage received lot of questions and had a lively discussion. Kadavil achen is feeble health-wise, especially after the passage of Kochamma in December 2016. Let us pray that achen will be able to continue this important mission.

For the past 4 months, I had been working hard on the Issue 400. This may be a bit rich theologically compared to our regular issues as I know many people are not into theological aspects (unless we talk about priests and deacons - yes, we do have many achens and semmassans in our readership.) Our church does not take the study of bible very seriously. (My opinion, you may disagree.) Also, the concepts like heaven, salvation, sin, grace, forgiveness, etc. important to understand. I wanted to include a chapter on Hell also; unfortunately, I ran out of time. I will do that in one of the regular issues. I hope that you will enjoy reading these articles. I tried to cover these topics from the perspectives of all Christian denominations, not just from Orthodox Church perspective. This is because we can learn a lot from others. Most of the time, the differences are not that significant. But sometimes, can look at the same data and interpret it differently and come to a different conclusion too. We have to be on the lookout for those.

One example is on the discussion on 'instant salvation'. This is based on what happened to the thief on the right side of Jesus. (Truly speaking, we do not know, if the "good" thief was crucified on the right or left side of Jesus; we just believe that he was on the right; it really does not matter where he was. What happened there is well documented in the gospels. One scholar, after discussing the good thief obtaining 'the promise of paradise' from Jesus came to the wrong conclusion. Let us take a look at a segment from "Last Second Salvation" in this issue:

#3 God has made salvation simple so that anyone can be saved.

Consider what we have in this story:

- Salvation independent of the sacraments. This man was never baptized, never took the Lord's Supper, and never went to Confession. But he made it to heaven.

- Salvation independent of the church. This man never went to church, never walked an aisle, never attended catechism class, and never gave his money. But he made it to heaven.

- Salvation independent of good works. This man could not lift a hand for the Savior for his hands were nailed to a cross. He could not run any errands for the Lord for his feet were nailed to a cross. He could not give his money for he had not a penny to his name. For this man, there was no way in but the mercy of God.

J. C. Ryle (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels) says it this way:

Do we want proof that salvation is of grace and not of works? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was nailed hand and foot to the cross. He could do literally nothing for his own soul. Yet even he through Christ's infinite grace was saved. No one ever received such a strong assurance of his own forgiveness as this man.

Do we want proof that sacraments and ordinances are not absolutely needful to salvation, and that men may be saved without them when they cannot be had? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was never baptized, belonged to no visible church, and never received the Lord's supper. But he repented and believed, and therefore he was saved.

He was pardoned before he lived a single righteous day. In one transforming moment, a man who was not fit to live on earth was made fit to live in heaven.

I had the following comments on that under Editor's Note:

Some of our authors are getting too anxious to point their point of view here. The salvation of the thief was an unexpected one; but it was extraordinary too. The thief got "pardon" straight from the Chief Priest. It is like getting the Presidential pardon. It trumps everything.

However, it is worth pointing out that the thief did confess his sins before the Chief Priest:

41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."

42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."

Luke 23:41-42

The good thief did confess his sins and then pleaded to Jesus for mercy. And the mercy/ pardon was granted.

43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Luke 23:43

So, this process is in compliance with our church's procedure for confession, and granting forgiveness of sins.

In case you are wondering, the root cause of the disagreement comes from the Reformation movement under Martin Luther. The reformists believed that only grace counts towards salvation, whereas Orthodox and Catholics believe that both grace and 'works' are counted towards salvation based on the epistle of James (especially James 2:24). I do not want to discuss is in any detail here. (I will never finish this letter.)

Back to Malankara World statistics.

I looked at the elapsed time to publish 100 issues.

We published the first issue of MWJ on April 15, 2011

Since there are 52 weeks in a year, technically it will take 1.92 years (23 months) to publish 100 issues, if we publish it once a week without missing an issue.

With that in mind, here is the actual data.
From Issue  To Issue Elapsed Time (mo)
1 100 16 months
100 200 17 months
200 300 17 months
300 400 18 months

The difference between 23 months and the actual converted to weeks give us the number of extra issues published as specials.

So, you can reasonably assume that, with everything being the same, Issue 500 will be published, God willing,  around September 2018. So, if you want to publish your article in this issue, start writing now! Don't tell me that I did not give fair warning.

Another topic:

One of the many things our parents are worried about their children is that they may be pursuing the wrong career path. When we are in Kerala in the old days, the jobs were very scarce. The best possible way to land a "good" job under that scenario is to study the field of medicine or engineering.

Today the situation is quite different, especially if you are in the US. Lot of good jobs are available in a variety of occupations. Our youngsters want to study those and our parents are not too happy about it. I wanted to feature some people who stood stern in their arguments with the parents and did well on alternate occupations. We have an article by Ann Jacob, whose dad and mom are good friends of mine. I wanted Ann to write her story for the benefit of other youngsters. She did. I hope you like it. We hope to feature others in coming editions of MWJ.

Thank you very much for your support. I want to thank especially a good friend of mine, Philip Scaria from Chicago. Philip was a big supporter of Malankara World from the beginning and promoted it to all of his friends. Now, he has a mission to cure me of my diabetes. I will let you know if he is successful. I am faithfully taking Philip's "Oottamooly" (panacea) - as he calls his preparation. (I do not want to call it a medicine because FDA will be very unhappy about it. We can call it a neutraceutical traditionally passed from generation to generation in India. Philip learned it from his brother in law.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."
- Isaiah 55:8-9


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.